SCOM Alumna Recognized as Circle of Gold Honoree by the FSU Alumni Association

Maura Hayes (B.S. ‘82) was recognized by the Florida State University (FSU) Alumni Association as one of the newest members of the Circle of Gold.

The FSU Alumni Association’s Circle of Gold recognizes worthy individuals who, through their service and achievements, personify the University’s tradition of excellence.

“The tradition of excellence at FSU is so phenomenal, and I’m so proud to be an alumna and to be honored by FSU for giving back,” Hayes said.

As an alumna, Hayes has enjoyed an over 40-year career at The Walt Disney Company, served on the Alumni Association’s National Board of Directors, in which the Young Alumni Council was formed, and was honored with the inaugural FSU Inspire Award for Women of Distinction.

But her whole journey began as an FSU student switching majors.

“I was accepted into the FSU dance program, but I soon recognized that getting through school would take me longer than it would most other students,” Hayes said. “I reached out to the Dean of the College of Communication at the time, who showed me how my performance skills could translate to a communication degree, thus finishing college in three years.”

Becoming a communication student gave Hayes many more opportunities to pursue her passions and to get involved around campus. Bobby Bowden chose her as the very first Garnet and Gold Girl to represent the university with high school athletes on recruiting visits and was privileged to be selected for the very first Golden Girls dance team. She credits these experiences with helping her land some of her first roles at Disney.

“Don’t be afraid to talk about all the things you did in college during an interview,” Hayes advised. “No matter what job you apply for, many experiences like working on team projects, joining a club and volunteering, unveil a lot about who you are. Brag about it.”

Hayes became a dancer and singer at Walt Disney World starting at the “The Diamond Horseshoe” and later becoming the first lead stunt woman in the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular,” but an injury during a stunt in the early 1990’s would lead her to change her career path.

“I was fortunate enough to hear about a position available at Disney called Film and Tape at the time,” Hayes said. Though she lacked experience ‘behind the scenes’ in film and television, she found many of the communication skills she gained in school helped her get her foot in the door as a production assistant.

She eventually moved into a management role, where she coordinated filming within the theme parks at Walt Disney World, managing production crews and schedules, while developing many business relationships along the way. “It just takes one person to recognize that you have the talent they are looking for”, which is exactly what happened when she was invited to move to NYC 25 years ago as part of the opening team for Time Square Studios, home of ‘Good Morning America’.  She has an expanded role now overseeing Corporate Real Estate’s Client and Production Services for the East Coast.

Reflecting on her journey from communication student to an executive at The Walt Disney Company, Hayes had this to say to current students: “Forming strong relationships is important, along with a lot of hard work and dedication. Get out there and meet people face -to- face and if you are passionate about something ‘go for it’.  Find a company you want to work for, get an interview and tell them why they need to hire you.

Hayes also encourages students to get involved as early as possible. “Get involved in organizations and  in college. Go for every internship you possibly can. Internships are a great way to learn what you want to do, and sometimes what you don’t want to do for the rest of your life. And attend events on campus. If you tell someone you are interested in attending their function and why, it’s likely they won’t say no!”

As an alumna and now Circle of Gold honoree, Maura Hayes continues to stay involved at FSU as a student mentor. All these years later, she still finds many reasons to say, “this is why I picked FSU.”