Not many high school students have a resume noting they serve on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit, or a weekday routine that requires a 5:30 wake-up call in order to travel up to two hours to get to school. These are just some of Maya’s responsibilities, and she happily accepts them. Maya is smart, approachable, and warm. She is driven and poised for success. With a full schedule and a handful of extracurricular activities competing for her time, Maya has maintained a 3.1 GPA throughout high school and at 16 years old, her dreams are fueled by a passion to work for the United Nations or UNICEF.
Maya has been participating in Global Kids’ programs for over three years, starting as a freshman. Now a senior at Long Island City High School, Maya participates in the Human Rights Activist Project, and is also involved with planning GK’s annual youth conference, a youth-planned and led event. Helping organize the youth conference takes more than a devoted and committed individual. It takes a leader.
“Strong youth, not afraid to stand up for what they believe in to try to make a change through action. A globally aware perspective, too.”
This describes Maya. This was also her response when asked how a Global Kids Leader could be defined. She is composed, considerate, thoughtfully contributes to discussion, and very much invested in creating positive social change. “By speaking up about things that are important, you can make a difference. Once you say something, people listen and that’s what you really need for a change to be made. Also, you need to be focused, motivated, and confident.”
Maya attributes her perseverance to her mother and Global Kids. “My mom has pushed me to speak up; and Global Kids has strengthened my skills. It’s also taken me places, like London, that I never thought I’d actually go to until later in life. I traveled there to attend meetings held by Peace Child International on climate change.”
While travel and college are her current proposed plans post-high school, Maya is having no trouble filling her time now with three AP classes, basketball, and babysitting on the weekend, and has also taken cello and piano lessons. She confesses, “I also love clothes and fashion.” Maya manages to balance it all though. She attended the Rio+20 conference this June with four other Global Kids students to speak about climate change and how youth can be a part of international change and dialogue. Maya’s message, whether in Rio or in New York City, will be heard.