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#MyMagisMessage: Maya Williams '21

Our #MyMagisMessage for the week comes from Maya Williams, a senior Environmental Science and French major from Cleveland, OH!

At which service sites / community partners have you served or been a student liaison?

I have served with Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility, Famicos Foundation, Fatima Family Center, and St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School.

If you had to state your life mission off the top of your head, in one sentence, what would it be?

Follow the things you are truly passionate about no matter what anyone says because passion is what helps us find our purpose and helps us find the beauty in the things we do best!

I have always been a very passionate person, whether it was my passion for fighting climate change or fighting my bad habit of procrastination. However, there was a time when I lost passion for everything that I cared about. There were times where I felt lost, broken, and no matter how much I wanted to care about being the change I wanted to see in the world, my world was crumbling before me. All I could focus on was what I had lost rather than what I still had or what was yet to come.

Luckily, I was set up to go on an immersion in Cleveland, and that lit a spark in me because I was able to forget about my own worries and hear from others following their own passions and fighting for what is right. Something I love about immersions is that you can feel so far away from the world, yet home is only 20 minutes away. I was also able to create incredible friendships along the way and make memories that I will never forget. I heard incredible stories from others, learned about and saw the injustices surrounding homelessness, and went to places that I did not even know existed in Cleveland. Coming back from the immersion, I felt refreshed again. I started to find my passion because I was surrounded by others who inspired me to want to make a difference again. Even though my worries were still there when I came back, I was in a much better place to deal with them. Unfortunately, when I was ready to face my hardships we went into the pandemic and I felt like I was spiraling out again because I was stuck alone with my thoughts and nothing was there to distract me. However, there was more to come for me. Throughout summer, it was a bumpy road. There were good days and a lot of bad days. I had to navigate dealing with my mental health and it was incredibly hard to do, but as time passed I grew stronger everyday.

With all that being said, I am living the magis by being patient and understanding with myself and knowing that I cannot control everything in my life. I learned a lot about myself this summer, even though there were a lot of downs. I had to understand that it is okay not to feel your best all the time. I had to understand that it is okay to let yourself feel all the emotions and cry when you need to. Most importantly, I had to understand that I needed to heal before I could focus on anything else. This is where I learned that some things were just out of my control. You cannot just snap back into your old life and feel better all of the sudden. I was holding myself back by not letting myself feel the necessary emotions I needed to process through. As I let time and love from family, friends and myself help me heal, I began to focus on what I still have in my life. I had an internship that I loved over the summer. I have family and friends that cared about me. I made new friendships along the way. I still have my bad days, but when I look back to how I was dealing with my pain six months ago, I feel proud of myself for how far I have come.

My favorite site that I have gone to is St. Thomas Aquinas. I was able to do a French tutoring service there and I was always excited to go back and teach others something that was a big part of my life. Language is so important and learning a new language can be incredibly fulfilling and vital. Everyone deserves to have access to learning something that connects you with more parts of the world and it opens up more doors too. Being surrounded by the students at St. Thomas Aquinas and seeing their excitement to learn a new language was incredible. There was a lot of laughing and silliness as we tried to pronounce French tongue twisters. As we learned new words and tried out pronunciation, there was so much determination and passion shown from the students. Their eagerness and liveliness always kept me going and wanting to do better. This service allowed me to find joy in things I did not always appreciate, like education. It made me grateful for all that I had in my life and made me realize how important finding your passions are. Passions are what bring me joy and even though I felt that passion fade away at one point, I was able to bring it back. The students I worked with at service continued to show up and always had a willingness to learn. They brought so much joy into my life. They showed true perseverance, even when some pronunciations were harder than others.

Now that I am a senior, I hope to continue to follow my passions, even though I may struggle on my path towards them. I want to also continue to never forget the people I met or the stories I heard from my service and immersion experiences by always sharing their stories with others. Since their stories inspired me, I think it is important that other people are able to be inspired by them as well and can find hope when they feel like it is lost during certain hardships in their lives. I know many of us are feeling hopeless right now and feeling like our worlds are falling apart, but I want everyone to know that you are not alone. Changes are going to happen in life whether we like them or not, but it is what we learn from them that is important. It is also important to take time for yourself when you need it most and let yourself feel all the emotions. As we all continue through the uncertainty, remember that you must follow the path that feels best for you that will ignite important change. Lastly, remember to always #TreatYoSelf!


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