The youngest of three girls growing up in Baltimore, MD, Maya Torain learned from an early age the value of rising beyond set expectations. Deeming them all “smart, pretty girls,” her mother instilled in her daughters a pride in being intelligent, strong women that Maya has carried throughout her life, in and out of the classroom. Though very shy as a child, she has pushed through the boundaries introversion once set for her, striving to get her voice heard.
Maya has never shied away from a challenge, determined to settle for nothing less than her ultimate potential. She has excelled in rigorous academic classes, climbing to the top 5% of her class and receiving the distinction of being a National Achievement Finalist and AP Scholar with Honor. Maya is also an active member of the National, Spanish, and Math Honor Societies. However, in this path to success, she often found herself in the position of being one of the few African-Americans in her classes. This disparity in minority achievement has fueled Maya’s efforts to give back, to pass down to other students of color the opportunities that have been afforded to her. She is determined to live according to the words of her namesake, Maya Angelou: “You shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Along with being a volunteer tutor, she serves as the student coordinator of the Rising Scholars mentoring program at Catonsville High School, helping minority underclassmen with their academic and social development.
Attending middle school in a predominately Jewish area, Maya became aware early of the strained relations between the black and Jewish communities. As a firm believer in the power of diversity, she looked beyond habitual judgments and tried to convince her classmates to do the same. Concern for this issue drew her to the goals of the Elijah Cummings Youth Program. She was chosen as one of ten teens to engage in a two-year leadership program aiming to help foster positive relations between the different ethic groups that compose the diverse city of Baltimore. With the ECYP, Maya embarked on a life-changing, four-week trip to the culturally rich country of Israel. Among many other lessons, she took from the experience the fundamental notion that we are all more alike than we are different.
Introduced to sports by her supportive father at a young age, Maya defines herself as a true student-athlete. She is a three sport varsity athlete, with a passion for basketball and track and field. Maya has earned three State Championship titles in track and field, including one individual gold in high jump. Her record-breaking 1600m relay team placed third in the nation in 2008, earning her All-American honors. Maya is a three-year starter on her varsity basketball team, which has won back-to-back-to-back County Championships. Hoping to continue her athletic career in college, she accredits sports with teaching her the invaluable lessons of teamwork, selflessness, and determination.