Maya Morris has been involved with Girls Inc. of Memphis for a relatively short period of time. The White Station junior started participating at South Park Center as a high school freshman, less than three years ago.
But in that short time frame, Maya’s experience has had a profound effect on her life. Near the top of her list of accomplishments and activities is receiving the 2018 SMART award at this year’s Celebration Luncheon. And she was recently chosen to represent Girls Inc. of Memphis on the national Girls Inc. Teen Advisory Council.
A naturally gifted student, Maya credits Girls Inc. for helping her step up her game.
“When I started at Girls Inc., I was starting high school,” Maya said. “They helped me with my transition from middle school to high school. They’ve all really been there for me.”
Maya has taken the support she’s gotten from Girls Inc. and run with it. She’s taking multiple AP classes and has a 4.6 GPA. She took part in the Memphis Ambassadors program as a freshman and sophomore and has been involved with the college prep programs REACH Memphis and the Memphis Challenge.
Underlying it all is her passion for the written word.
“As a kid I expressed myself better through creative expression,” she said. “Writing has been with me since I was a child.”
In the summer of 2017, she took part in the Sewanee Young Writer’s Conference at the University of the South. And she participated in the Rhodes Summer Writing Institute this past summer.
As if all that weren’t enough, through her involvement with the LITE Memphis entrepreneurship program, she self-published her first book, Rewrite the Narrative, aimed at helping build confidence and self-esteem in middle school girls. The inspiration came in part from her experience at Girls Inc.
“Here at Girls Inc. we have all kinds of discussions about different topics,” Maya said. “When I got into a group of girls talking about body-image and self-esteem it was eye-opening. A lot of girls don’t know what it is to have self-esteem. I want to educate.”
When it comes to her education, she hasn’t started applying to colleges yet, but her studies will likely revolve around writing and journalism or international development.
“I am passionate about helping people who can’t really help themselves,” she says.
In the meantime she’s settling into her new role, representing Girls Inc. of Memphis on the national Girls Inc. Teen Advocacy Council, one of only 10 girls selected from 145,000 across the country. She’s taken part in one video conference so far and says the council’s current focus will be raising awareness of sexual harassment and assault among young girls, as part of the national #GirlsToo initiative.
Underscoring it all is her gratitude for her Girls Inc. Experience.
“Girls Inc. has provided me with a support system,” Maya said. “It’s like a huge extended family.”