Lydia Mays (’01, ’02) was an assistant professor in Georgia State University’s Department of Early Childhood Education when her life hit a speed bump. “My husband and I were introduced to the world of infertility and loss,” she said in a TEDx Talk. This led to sadness and despair, but it also led to the adoption of a new philosophy and the creation of a company to put it into action.
In 2011, Mays created See Beautiful, a philanthropic organization committed to “empowering girls and women to see the beauty they inherently possess and to give to causes creating more beauty in the world.”
Mays graduated from UT with a BS in human ecology in 2001 and an MS in human ecology and early childhood education in 2002, then earned her PhD in early childhood education at Georgia State. As president and CEO of See Beautiful, she has collaborated with humanitarian and philanthropic organizations around the world so that, with each purchase, consumers support sustainable projects of nonprofits.
To date, See Beautiful has donated over $175,000 to more than 100 organizations like Kula Project, New Hope Center, Plywood People, Covenant House, Kids Boost, and Just One Africa. “Thanks to this amazing community,” said Mays, “there is a children’s library in a homeless shelter in Utah, a greenhouse feeding a community in Kenya, and 250 children in the Congo attending school who otherwise wouldn’t have access.”
Mays has also written empowering children’s books The Giving Me, The Listening Me, The Patient Me, and The Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair. “I love being surrounded by books,” she said, “whether writing, reading, or dreaming of ways to change the world through them.”
“My hope for others can sound cheesy or pie-in-the-skyish on the surface,” said Mays in her TEDx Talk. “But what I really want people to take away are three seminal actions: to see beautiful in yourself, see beautiful in others, and create more beautiful in the world.
These three actions contain the life-changing potential to restore confidence from doubt, hope from loss, and happiness from sadness.”