Blazing New Trails and Helping Others
At Widener, Ariana Hurtado-Day '23 has been gaining career-building experiences, making an impact in the community, and honing her leadership skills — all while making a little history along the way.
- College of Arts & Sciences
Since stepping foot onto Widener’s campus in 2019, Ariana Hurtado-Day has been headed for success.
She came to Widener to pursue a degree in physical therapy and felt that with the small classes and opportunities to get involved in civic engagement, Widener would be the perfect place for her to establish her career path.
She believes that not only did the university provide her with many hands-on opportunities to apply her passions and pursue her future career, it also gave her the ability to grow as a person.
When Ariana first came to Widener, she knew she wanted to major in psychology on the pre-physical therapy pathway. Her passion to help people and an injury that she had during her sophomore year of high school made her realize that this is a great pathway to advocate for and assist others.
“One of my big things is helping people. I like to make sure people feel heard and understood and I think by studying psychology, I’ve been able to better understand those around me and their ways of thinking,” said Ariana.
With the pre-physical therapy program, Ariana has been able to get hands-on experience and many internships. Two of those internships were at PIVOT Physical Therapy and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she can interact with the patients and staff.
Also, Ariana works as a secretary at the Chester Community Clinic, a pro bono clinic on campus. She is the first point of contact for patients and assists them while they wait for their sessions. In this role, she can connect with many graduate students who are in the Doctorate Physical Therapy program and is learning how to provide quality care to those who come to the clinic.
“Being able to have these internships and experiences outside of the classroom makes me feel happy because not only am I able to build connections, but I’m getting experience and understanding with the career that I want,” said Ariana.
Outside of the classroom, Ariana serves as a resident assistant, C.R.E.W. orientation leader, Pride mentor, a legacy in the Legacy 56 mentorship program, and works at the mailroom in the University Center. She also is the secretary for Latinos Unidos, and president of the Center for Civic and Global Engagement Scholars Program.
“One of the things I saw was that Widener offered a lot of clubs and organizations that worked with the community and offered a lot of mentorship roles. I saw that the Bonner Program and the Center for Civic and Global Engagement were involved within the Chester community,” said Ariana. “I joined the Pride Mentor (program) because I saw how it was an opportunity to help first-year students get acclimated to college.”
In all of these roles, Ariana can make connections and meet new people that she might not otherwise get a chance to meet.
Her connection with being involved on campus and her desire to help people led to her role as the Center for Civic and Global Engagement Scholar president, originally something she was unsure about. However, with encouragement from LaShanda Patton, director for Civic and Global Engagement, and the leadership coaching she received through the scholars’ program, Ariana felt confident to apply for the position.
“In high school, I was never a president of any clubs. I didn’t see that as me because of my view on leadership. I thought it was just telling people what to do. It was really out of my comfort zone, but with the encouragement I received, I realized that I could determine what type of leader I want to be. I don’t have to be like everyone else,” said Ariana.
The experiences she’s had and the people Ariana has met at Widener have not only allowed her to get involved and get out of her comfort zone, they have allowed her to leave her mark on campus.
In the fall of 2022, Ariana made history by becoming Widener’s first mixed Latina and Black homecoming queen. She was inspired to run by past homecoming queens Arianna McRae and Nia Hayes. Her win marked the third year Widener’s homecoming queen was a woman of color.
“I am Colombian and Black,” said Ariana, “Having alumni and people coming up to me and telling me about how proud they were of me was very surreal. It was just a lot of emotion, but I’m grateful to continue the amazing legacy. I want this to be a pathway for others and let them know that they can become homecoming queens as well."