Maggie Tucker wore a kind smile as she walked into the Burning B Café. She ordered a chai latte, a personal favorite, and enthusiastically discussed feminism, another personal favorite, as she waited for her beverage.
Tucker is one of three new co-directors of Woman as Hero, an intersectional feminist organization at ASU.
The organization aims to challenge existing ideas of feminism and empower people of all gender identities through solution-based discussions, according to its website.
Tucker, who was bullied intensely in middle school, loves the sense of community and empowering environment that she has found in Woman as Hero.
One of Tucker’s favorite parts about Woman as Hero is the yearly "Womanity" conference the organization hosts. "Womanity" is one of the nation’s largest student-run feminist leadership conferences.
“It is a space for people of all genders to commit their talents, passions, beliefs and interests to changing their communities and influencing systemic change,” WAH’s website said about the conference.
Tucker praised the women she has worked with in WAH, listing co-directors Natasha McLain, 20, and Ellie Dries, 19, as two of her inspirations.
Tucker’s peers hold the same admiration for her in return.
“She’s a fiercely diligent and passionately warm person,” Dries said. “She really only does things she believes in, so she’s 100 percent committed to what she does.”
McLain also spoke fondly of her experience working with Tucker and Dries in the organization.
“It’s been nothing but positive,” McLain said.
WAH is just one of the ways in which Tucker pursues her passions. She is also a prestigious Flinn and undergraduate Fulbright scholar, which enables her to explore her many interests, ranging from geography to feminism to the political landscape of Azerbaijan.
Tucker said that her entire college experience would be totally different had she not won the Flinn.
Now, more than ever, students are struggling to afford college. The average student loan debt hovers around $30,000 per borrower in the U.S., according to studies by The Institute for College Access and Success.
The Flinn Scholarship entirely alleviates the stress of student loans that so many face. It's a merit-based program that is awarded to 20 of Arizona’s highest performing high school seniors each year.
The scholarship, valued at over $115,000, covers tuition, fees, room and board and a minimum of two study abroad experiences.
Tucker encourages high school students to apply for the Flinn even if, like her, they don’t feel like they are the “traditional valedictorian type.”
Since winning the Flinn, Tucker has used her education to empower women and challenge existing ideas about feminism in WAH. One way in which Tucker said she hopes to encourage others is through academics.
It's that time of year again! Womanity 2016 is finally here! This year's conference theme is focusing on centering unheard voices in marginalized groups. We're giving people a platform to speak out against injustices & the opportunity to educate ourselves along with others on a range of topics. Please join us in making this year a great one! RSVP through the link in our bio (: #WomanAsHero
This past summer Tucker studied abroad at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland as part of a four-week long Fulbright program in the U.K.
While Tucker studied abroad, she had an eye-opening experience with sexism by being treated differently as an American woman in a foreign country.
One way in which her experience was different as a woman abroad was that she had a much harder time being taken seriously and being heard in an academic setting, Tucker said.
”Sometimes when I go up to speak, I feel like I get a very different reception from men,” she said.
Tucker’s experience abroad has only strengthened her desire to pursue her academic and career goals.
Coinciding with Tucker’s wide range of passions, she has big plans for the future. Tucker plans to get a Ph.D. in international relations and law. She also plans to write a book about borderlands and pursue research work in Azerbaijan.
“I want to have excellence in my field but also make it more inclusive for others,” Tucker said. “I want to be a better me and help other people.”