Original Content by Emma Ross
Many factors drew Rusty and Selena Mau closer together throughout their first few years at NC State: Park Scholarships, a presidential campaign and, of course, Cook Out milkshakes.
“We first met on the Park Scholarships Freshman Retreat,” Rusty said. “Selena couldn’t stand me.”
But by junior year, the pair had become close friends and Selena even helped Rusty with his successful campaign for student body president. They began dating the summer before senior year, their dates primarily pairing NC State functions with post-event Cook Out milkshakes at Lake Raleigh.
Since finishing their years at NC State in 2015, both Selena and Rusty have remained connected to campus through friends, athletic events and philanthropy.
Why NC State
Becoming Park Scholars helped get the couple to campus — but they say NC State’s draw involved much more than that.
For Rusty, it was the warm nature of the Pack that welcomed him in. And opportunities like NC State’s study abroad programs and world-class faculty convinced Selena the university was the place for her.
They each dove headfirst into student activities, organizations and volunteer work — Rusty with the Krispy Kreme Challenge planning committee, Phi Delta Theta, the women’s basketball team practice squad, the Raleigh Wesley Foundation, University Ambassadors and Chancellor’s Aides. And of course, his stint as student body president.
Selena took on Rotaract club, Delta Gamma, NC State Football Recruitment Ambassador and InterAct of Wake County. She also managed to fit in study abroad trips to both Botswana and Nepal.
Although they stayed busy with their activities, they always made time for Wolfpack athletics events. Rusty fondly remembers NC State’s men’s basketball team beating Duke in 2013.
“There’s not much sweeter than beating Duke — except Carolina, which we did two weeks later,” he said.
Meanwhile, Selena recollects a different time that the Wolfpack came out on top. Her Park class was driving home from a fall break trip to Washington, D.C., and had to decide between driving straight through or making a few stops.
“The Wolfpack spirit is strong because we opted to drive straight through to try and make it to the Florida State football game — it was worth it!” said Selena. “We made it back, rushed to the stadium and got there for the second half, which was plenty of time to watch the last-second touchdown to beat No. 3-ranked FSU.”
The duality of making an impact on their community and having fun at athletic events is one of the things the Maus love the most about campus.
“NC State students are down-to-earth. Your neighbor. Your friends. The people you’re excited to introduce your parents to. We tackle tough problems, but have fun along the way,” said Rusty.
In 2015, Rusty graduated from his master’s program in economics through Poole College of Management and Selena finished her bachelor’s degree in international studies through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Since then, they both have gone on to successful and fulfilling careers.
Rusty began working as a quantitative analyst but quickly transitioned to legislative policy while he and Selena lived in Washington, D.C. He eventually realized his career goals met in the middle of these two fields, and now works for local North Carolina governments on budget and management services.
“NC State was a critical foundation for my career and continues to propel me forward,” said Rusty. “The economics program provided me with the technical training and practical experience to chart a career path and find success. But the extracurricular, practical experience at NC State allowed me to pivot, find my niche and thrive in local government.”
Selena has spent her career at SAS, a Cary-based software company. Co-founded by alumnus and former faculty member Dr. Jim Goodnight, SAS mirrors NC State’s mission of Think and Do by analyzing data to solve problems and drive change. Selena currently works on their Data for Good programs, which aim to use data analytics to solve humanitarian crises, from poverty to education to the environment.
“My time at the university fostered my curiosity and my desire to find purpose in the work I do,” said Selena. “Attending NC State, the impact of SAS is evident and its technology is at the intersection of all disciplines.”
With busy careers and a home base near Asheville, several hours from Raleigh, staying connected to their alma mater can be difficult for the Maus. But they’ve made it a priority.
The pair try to attend Wolfpack athletics events whenever possible, but the thing that has kept them most connected? Philanthropy.
We don’t know where the outcomes may lead, but philanthropy at NC State is an investment in the future of our university, community and country.
“Living in the western part of the state, we don’t get to games as much as we’d like,” they said. “We don’t see our Triangle- and Charlotte-based friends as much as we’d like. But giving to the Pack and seeing the stories of current students and alumni gives us a sense of connection to NC State.”
Rusty and Selena are part of the Chancellor’s Circle, a leadership giving group whose members support the university by giving $1,000 or more per year. Chancellor’s Circle donors give to every area at NC State, from athletics to scholarships to building renovations.
The Maus started by giving to the Park Scholarships program, since their own scholarships made such a difference for both of them. But over the past few years they have expanded into supporting their home colleges, NC State University Libraries and, of course, NC State Athletics.
Advice for the Future
Rusty and Selena miss quite a bit about NC State. From the gym and pickup basketball games to the Libraries (and the Howling Cow served inside), the Maus urge current students not to take their time on campus for granted — particularly when it comes to friends. Soon enough, those casual meetups will become more difficult once everyone parts ways after college.
Rusty’s number-one piece of advice for students?
Fail at something.
“What you do today – either great success or utter failure – will not affect you tomorrow,” he said. “The lessons learned along the way are what matter.”
Selena encourages everyone to study abroad and get out of their comfort zone: “Doesn’t matter where or even for how long, but you’re guaranteed to make some great memories.”
The Maus credit their success to the variety of experiences NC State offers, and say that this is only expanding because of donor support.
“Philanthropy allows students to go above and beyond with their college experience, opening up opportunities like study abroad, unique research experiences or other extracurricular activities,” Rusty said.
“The adaptability you can learn at NC State will propel you for years.”
Originally published on NC State News.