Professional News

‘What’s Next’: UK alum looking to inspire, challenge others through hit podcast

Photo of Mario Maitland
During his final semester, Mario Maitland took a podcasting class, and from that a fire ignited within. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 3, 2023)  When’s the last time you asked yourself, what’s next?

Acknowledging the next chapter in our personal and professional lives can be daunting.

As children, we’re encouraged to ask questions — to think, explore and be curious. But as we become adults, sometimes, that curiosity diminishes.

Not for Mario Maitland.

From the time he could walk, Maitland remembers being on a court. “We’re a basketball rich family,” he said. “I grew up watching and playing basketball.”

When Maitland wasn’t dribbling a ball, he was still watching, learning and appreciating the game.

Originally from Long Island, New York, and growing up in Daytona Beach, Florida, Maitland had a surprising love for the University of Kentucky. “All the stars go to UK, so I watched them on TV,” he said. “No matter where I was living, UK was always my team.”

Eventually, cheering the Cats to victory became more than a hobby.

As a senior in high school, Maitland was faced with an important question — what’s next? His passionate support for the Big Blue Nation made the choice an easy one.

“UK was always a place where I saw myself — even if I wasn’t playing basketball.”

A campus filled with endless opportunities and possibilities — Maitland saw UK as home away from home. In 2018, the 18-year-old arrived in Lexington on a mission to discover his path and purpose.

“Being able to go to UK changed my perspective on life,” he said. “I was literally living out my dream. I was there — at one of the best universities in the world.”


Maitland’s dream had finally been realized. But once again, he was forced to ask himself, what’s next?

Not unlike most college freshmen, Maitland wasn’t quite sure about his career path. “Going to UK was about me finding my way.”

Initially majoring in biology, he soon learned it wasn’t a good fit. Instead, Maitland decided to pursue a history degree. “History is all about storytelling, and that’s what I love to do.”

Still, as graduation neared, it was unclear what his next chapter would hold.

During his final semester, Maitland took Podcasting and Sound (in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies) as an elective, and from that a fire ignited within.

“During the last semester of college, that’s where I found what I really wanted to do. And that’s what college is about — experiencing different things and figuring it out,” he explained. “I always wanted to start a podcast, but I didn’t know how to do that. UK helped me.”

Now entering his second year of production, Maitland is a graduate of UK College of Arts and Sciences and the creator and host of "What’s Next” podcast, where he interviews “intriguing people in their respective fields.”

According to the show’s description, the focus is to “connect normal individuals with inspiring people who are making a difference.”

“I wanted to make something that was inspiring — that would truly help listeners,” he said. “It’s something that has an impact, and hopefully makes people want to do better for themselves and their careers.”

In his short time producing, Maitland has interviewed an impressive number of guests — from music executive Stephon Dupree to professional athletes, such as former UK women’s basketball standout Rhyne Howard, clothing designers, physicians and more.

“We see a lot of advertisements, shows, news — but what we barely find is authenticity,” he said. “A real story that makes us think, change and better ourselves.”


Maitland admits, he doesn’t know what the future holds for himself or the podcast.

But no one has all the answers. When doubts and fears take over, Maitland refuses to stop challenging himself.

“We all come into college with a plan — thinking we’re set. But you never know what you’re capable of,” he said. “You have to trust God’s timing.”

You can check out the latest “What’s Next” episode with UK football linebacker Keaten Wade here.

Maitland was also featured on an episode of "Behind the Blue," where he talks about his experience at UK, the lessons he learned about taking advantage of opportunities and timing, his advice for current students and young alumni for pursuing their dreams, and more.

More about “Behind the Blue”

"Behind the Blue" is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify. Become a subscriber to receive new episodes of “Behind the Blue” each week. UK’s latest medical breakthroughs, research, artists and writers will be featured, along with the most important news impacting the university.

For questions or comments about this or any other episode of "Behind the Blue," email or tweet your question with #BehindTheBlue. Transcripts for this or other episodes of "Behind the Blue" can be downloaded from the show’s blog page.

To discover what’s wildly possible at the University of Kentucky, click here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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