Maya on Youth Activism and Making an Impact

A passionate young woman with a relentless work ethic, Maya Siegel is an advocate residing in Colorado. She is the Founder of Space to Speak, the Social Media Manager at Gen Z Girl Gang, and the Website Designer at JUV Consulting, all while being a full-time student at Colorado State University. Maya loves utilizing her website design skills to provide assets to companies and organizations with values that align to her own. She finds her power in doing work that she loves while providing for herself. When we sat down with her, she shared her passion for community service and connecting with others. She loves to get involved in new projects, continuing to learn and make an impact across a variety of organizations.

Maya, where are you from and what are you studying in school?

I’m from Evergreen, Colorado. I live in the mountains and love being surrounded by so much beauty. As for school, I attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins and am studying marketing, entrepreneurship, and American Sign Language. 

How did you become interested in sign language?

In middle school, I had a classmate who was Deaf. I thought the language was really beautiful, so I researched it online and practiced with my classmate. Then, in college I started taking classes. For a long time I was really shy, so I was drawn to ASL because it was a way I could express myself without words.

Tell us about your work as an activist. Where did you start?

When Trump was elected, I knew it was time to stand up for what I believe in because the leader of our country didn’t have the same values as me. The first organization I joined was ThinkOcean, an international youth nonprofit that I joined two years ago. I think it’s our responsibility to do our part in restoring and bettering the planet because we aren’t the only ones existing on it. When we take our privilege for granted, we jeopardize the future of our species as well as countless others. That’s how I got involved in the ocean; it wasn’t activism to me, it was simply acting on my passion. I’ve always loved community service and making an impact.

Today I am involved with many organizations, but the ones I dedicate the most time to are GenZ Girl Gang and Space to Speak. Space to Speak is an organization I started, which focuses on reducing sexual violence and dismantling rape culture through education, service, and advocacy. GGG is a community of womxn working to uplift each other.

What do you enjoy most about your work at ThinkOcean?

I love the people I meet. ThinkOcean is unique because it spans so many different countries, so I get the chance to work with passionate environmental advocates from across the world. When I joined two years ago, it was the first time I connected and collaborated with people outside of the US. The ThinkOcean team is amazing; they are some of the most hardworking people I know!

How did you get involved in GenZ Girl Gang?

I started as a community member and, when they highlighted me for Women’s Crush Wednesday, I noticed they didn’t have a website, so I built them one. After it was completed, I reached out to the founder, Deja Foxx, and asked her if she wanted it. I became GGG’s website manager after that! Over the past few years, I’ve built websites for a variety of youth organizations including ThinkOcean, Polluters Out, Dream Equal, and March For Our Lives Colorado. I know it’s my strength, and I know it’s a way I can participate and get involved with causes that matter to me.

What’s your favorite part of your work with Gen Z Girl Gang?

I think my favorite part of the work is interacting with our community members, especially the younger ones in high school. I love connecting with them and seeing their passion; I feel like a mentor sometimes which I love being for these girls! GGG’s mission is to ‘redefine sisterhood for a new generation’ by sharing opportunities, learning and teaching each other, and fostering collaboration. Our power is the amazing diverse community we’ve built, and I love the special bond I have with my leadership teammates; they’re some of my closest friends. I also think the opportunity section is a really unique service the GGG provides because some people don’t know where to find opportunities; it’s just one of many ways we’re trying to uplift our community!

Can you tell us about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it?

One of the things that I’m most proud of is switching sports in my junior year of high school. I was on the varsity team for soccer but I kept getting injured, so I decided to switch to swimming and joined the Jeffco Hurricanes club team in Evergreen. It was the first time I ever joined something knowing that I would be the worst on my team. At my first competition, I placed 350 out of 350. But I didn’t give up, and I worked really hard. The following year (my senior year), I made it to the state competition! Making it to State meant everything to me because I proved to myself how resilient I can be.

What inspired you to launch Space to Speak?

I’m a survivor and I feel like survivors are always put last. In 2019, I co-founded Space to Speak with Alex Hooten because we wanted to create a space dedicated to giving youth a leading voice in the sexual violence preventation movement while also working to further the national conversation on consent. We don’t have a national definition of consent in the US, but we should. Today, Space to Speak has a leadership team 13 strong and is a Condom Collective Safe Site, meaning that we partner with Colorado State University to give out 500 condoms each semester to students on campus. Our work has most recently been highlighted on MTV and Impaction’s 25 Under 25 Social Entrepreneurs list.

What advice would you give to other young adults looking to get involved in more organizations?

Identify your passions because this work takes a lot of time, so you have to love it! After you identify, reach out. I’m a big fan of cold DMs. If someone inspires you, tell them. The worst case scenario is that they say they can’t help at that time. My second piece of advice is to always show your value; show your worth and your passion.


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