I grew up in White Plains, New York which is about forty minutes north of New York City; my early life was spent in and around Manhattan which is a very diverse and urban area and has had a very strong impact on my life. My parents come from South America and my family is spread all across Latin America, which has given me the opportunity to travel, live and experience different cultures in a very personal way. I grew up in a multicultural and multilingual household which I think has added to my fascination with diversity, and has allowed me to see the importance of having those experiences. I was privileged enough to be raised in a supportive environment, which encouraged free-thinking, open-mindedness and questioning of the status quo.

            Different events that have impacted where I am today have occurred throughout my life, but I think that the most important happened in my day to day life, that being the opportunity to have dreams and to pursue them without judgment or restriction. Another major help in my intellectual journey was having the experience of changing majors four times, and although it was disheartening and stressful at time, especially when my friends seemed to know exactly what they wanted from the beginning, I am so incredibly grateful to have lived through that. There have been many people who have shaped me into the scholar that I am today, and the person that I am becoming. Those special people have appeared in different forms, whether they be family members, like my great grandmother who founded the first desegregated nursery school in the US, or famous activists, I have always been drawn to people who have spent their life trying to create positive social change. People who have made a difference in their lifetime, and have dedicated their lives to try and improve the society that we live in have always inspired me, and I have known since a young age that that is my goal. Even in my early years I was interested in books and readings about people who questioned and challenged the social norms that were set in place. Observing politics and events that have taken place I have observed that I am not someone that will just follow blindly, but rather I like to research and educate myself on injustices that occur, and learn about what work can be done to address those issues.

            I feel that I have been lucky enough to have been given the space to explore my interests and change the direction of my path, which in a way is Interdisciplinary. My ideology has always been to explore and experience in order to understand. I tried to fit into majors and paths that already existed, but I never truly felt like I belonged or that I was passionate. This wasn’t however the common feeling of not knowing what I wanted to do, on the contrary, I knew what I wanted to do and what inspired me, I was just struggling to figure out what steps to take in order to get to my goals, and interdisciplinary studies finally felt like the right choice.

            Over the years I have taken a large variety of classes, all of the ones that I have taken have been with the purpose of building myself and experiencing new things that may help me in the future. My goal was never to check all of the boxes and be done, but rather to actually learn and be inspired. Whether it was a class about art and activism, or food justice, documentary photography or even animal behavior, I found my interests and my passions through exploring multiple disciplines. Even with being so broad, I found that even the most opposite and obscure classes had relatable themes that intertwined with each other as well as with my life goals. I feel that I am different than who I was five years ago because of all of the experiences that I have had, as well as the knowledge I have gained. But I still hold the same values at my core than I did back then, they have just transformed to include my new knowledge.

admin IDS, Senior Seminar

One Comment

  1. This is a wonderful reflection, Maya. I didn’t realize you have such a marvelous background! I want to know more about your great-grandmother, especially!

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