Maya Sheklow - California Interview by Zoe D’Angelo Nomination and Main Photography by Launa Penza Photography Featured in Issue 20 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Maya Sheklow is accomplished and grounded, and beautiful with a heart of gold. She is finishing her gold award having been a girl scout for 12 years and is a volunteer at Club 21 which is an organization that helps kids with Down Syndrome and their families. She is a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, plays lacrosse and volleyball, and was selected to be school ambassador by the principal of Crescenta Valley High School where she has been a scholar athlete all three years.
How did you become interested in being a Girl Scout? What is your favorite thing about it? I started Girl Scouts in Kindergarten when I was five years old. At that time, I thought it would be a fun experience with my friends. However, as I continued Girl Scouts, I realized it was more than a playdate; it was about a commitment to my community and becoming a strong young lady who could learn to become a leader. Over the years, Girl Scouts has brought much joy into my life, including lifelong friendships, and learning the importance of giving back to others.
Tell us about your volunteering opportunities with Club 21 and what you have accomplished. At Club 21, which is an organization that provides support for children with Down Syndrome and their families, I spend my time supervising and assisting the children with activities. I also take pictures to update their website and create a costume box that helps the children with expressing themselves.
Image by Sandy Hesse
When did your careers begin with Lacrosse and Volleyball? If you had to pick one, which would you choose and why? I started playing lacrosse six years ago in 6th grade, and actually did not start playing volleyball until my freshman year of high school. Even though I greatly enjoy playing both, I would pick lacrosse over volleyball because I find the competitiveness and physicality of it challenges and pushes me. I also have developed a great comradery with my teammates, and I hope to continue my career of playing lacrosse in college.
When did your career in Taekwondo start? What made you want to start? I started Taekwondo when I was in 3rd grade to build confidence and strength. I continued to benefit from the classes by gaining flexibility and did achieve more strength and confidence. Therefore, I decided to continue for the next five years, at which point I received my second-degree black belt. Even though I am no longer taking classes, I continue benefiting in the present from the skills I learned in the past.
Are you liking high school? What are your likes and dislikes? Like most teenagers, high school for me has had its ups and downs. For the most part, it has been a great experience- from meeting new friends to having a few inspirational teachers. There are definitely times where I can feel overwhelmed due to the amount of homework assigned. Also, there are classes that I don't necessarily enjoy, but it is all part of what will make me a strong and successful adult.
What is something you want your class remembering about you after graduation? I hope that when I leave Crescenta Valley High School I will be remembered as someone who is kind, and a person who became friends with people regardless of their social status or what their disabilities were. I hope I was able to make people smile and laugh.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? The advice I would give would be to stay true to who you are; to do things you enjoy (not just because others are doing it), and to always smile.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future?
In five years I see myself finishing my MBA and art degree. After I graduate my hope is to start taking over my family’s business, Drawn to Art, which teaches fine art, drawing and painting classes to students, ages 4 to adult.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think that everyone is inspiring in their own way. I hope that when someone is reading my article, they see I can enjoy being a teenager, but also give back to my community, be there for my friends, and still be a scholar athlete.
How do you keep yourself organized with everything on your plate? I keep myself organized by keeping lists and a regular schedule each week. It also helps for me to focus on things that I enjoy doing and that I am passionate about.
What is your favorite activity to pass time that wasn’t in your nomination? To pass time, I enjoy drawing and singing even though I cannot seem to hold a tune.
Who is inspiring? I find my great-grandmother inspiring for many reasons. My great-grandmother is someone who from day one I looked up to. She is probably the strongest woman I know, and never gives up without a fight. Although she is 95 years old, she still has the motivation and determination to keep moving forward. Through hard times she pushed through to give her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren an amazing life - a life she thought they deserved. Without this woman in my life I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the strong, independent, and caring young lady I am today. I am so lucky to have her in my life as she continues to inspire me every day.
Pizza or Tacos? Soda or Water? Cats or Dogs? I would have to choose tacos, water and dogs.
3 things on your bucket list? Travel the world, take over the family business, and have a family.
Maya will be featured in Issue 20 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!