The true meaning of giving back
Wherever she goes, Tracey Mays, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and management, manages to help others with her penchant for community service and entrepreneurial spirit.
Mays, the youngest of four children, was born in Texas and raised in Daytona Beach, Fla. Her father was in the military and taught his children the value of hard work and giving back.
"My father is my biggest influence," Mays explained. "He instilled in me the desire to help people."
This paternal influence proved fruitful for Mays who earned a bachelor's degree from Florida State University, a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix.
Mays managed to complete her doctorate while also facing the challenges of being a military spouse, moving five times from the start of her doctorate to its completion. Moreover, Mays' husband has been deployed four times.
"The life of a military wife is interesting," Mays stated.
The experience of being a military spouse inspired Mays to serve on the board of directors of the Officer's Spouses Club, which provides a social atmosphere for spouses and supports philanthropic efforts, such as raising money for military scholarships. Additionally, Mays serves as a key spouse mentor, providing networking, services and information to new spouses who are acclimating to military life.
"I understand deployments, starting over at a new base and hoping your career will move along with you," said Mays.
Mays is only in her second year as a faculty member in Minot State University's College of Business. However, she already plays an integral role in the development of the entrepreneurship program.
"The staple of the program is a hands-on project that requires students to apply what they've learned to a real business situation," Mays said. "They will walk away with a business plan, a portfolio, market analysis, and financial analysis for their own business or a business that they would like to grow."
The Higher Learning Commission recently approved MSU's entrepreneurial certificate for students that are interested in learning more about growing a business and willing to think outside the box. The certificate requires the completion of 18 credit hours.
"It is truly an entrepreneurial experience," Mays related. "It requires figuring out the key components of running a business and getting people involved.
Mays believes that an entrepreneurial mindset in crucial to anyone looking to create their own business or those interested in contributing to the success and innovation of a current organization.
"Employers are looking for employees with an entrepreneurial mindset," Mays said. "So, that's something that is of great value."
Mays' teaching approach involves bringing the real world into the classroom, presenting her students with real world problems so they learn to create real solutions.
"The students impact me every day," Mays said. "I teach them, and they teach me. It's a give and take."
In her free time, Mays embraces her role as a volunteer in the community. She works with Habitat for Humanity, Delta Kappa Gamma, Young Professionals and Junior Achievement. Following her father's example, Mays often includes her 6-year-old son in these worthy ventures to teach him the value of giving back.
"I care about people," said Mays. "That's the string that floats throughout my life."