Emerging Leaders Fellow
Oak Foundation, Chapel Hill, NC
Maya was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019. During her degree she spent time in the classroom studying international relations between the US and Mexico and outside of the classroom leading service-learning trips on food access in rural NC. Maya combined both of these educational opportunities in her honors thesis which focused on youth social mobility in farming communities in southern Mexico. Her research ultimately led to the design and funding of a youth internship program and seed bank that supports young farmers in the region. Through her experience exploring rural North Carolina during service-learning trips, and rural Mexico for her thesis, Maya drew connections between common barriers to economic mobility among young rural populations across hemispheres.
Prior to joining the Emerging Leaders Fellowship, Maya served as a research fellow in Appalachia for Stanford University’s Center for Poverty and Inequality on their American Voices Project, a nationwide qualitative census. Interviews exploring the role of schools in social mobility or lack thereof propelled Maya into her most recent position as a College Advisor in southeastern North Carolina as part of the Carolina College Advising Corps. She hopes to use her career to support inclusive learning both inside and outside of traditional educational environments in rural and other historically and presently marginalized communities.