Maya Isiah


Have you ever wondered what would happen if Da Vinci was an Aries?  Then you get Maya Isiah, all-around aspiring artist.  Maya Isiah is a 19-year-old English Lit major in her sophomore year at Cal State Northridge.  Maya was born on March 25, 1994 and is a southern California native who has lived in various cities inside and outside of the San Fernando Valley, including Palmdale, Van Nuys, Encino, and Inglewood.  As the oldest of three children, Maya never formally attended elementary school, but was homeschooled by her mother, where Maya was immersed in classic literature, black history, and art.  Maya, soon, developed an early fascination with art, especially works by Vincent Van Gogh, Diego Rivera, and Varnette P. Honeywood.  Maya’s childhood dream was to start a second Harlem Renaissance.  Despite mother’s encouragement for more creative pursuits,  Maya was in training to becoming a basketball star due to her height.  By the age of 15,  Maya was Junior Varsiety Co-Captain of the Birmingham Girls’ Basketball team, one of the biggest sport schools in the San Fernando Valley.  Her leadership skills and harwork lead her team to placing third in their city division.  However, half way during the season, Maya met these two guys named Calvin and Hugo and they were graffiti writers who taught Maya how to construct letters, pick color combinations, and, even how to not get caught by the police.  Soon, she joined their tagging crew, Te Loco, where they did hit-ups throughout Lake Balboa and North Hollywood until one school night in Sherman Oaks.  Maya and Calvin were planning to finish their biggest place, but they got caught by a local police officer.   Fortunately, the police officer let Maya go under one condition:  she must find a legal way to express herself.  By the end of tenth grade, Maya quit the basketball team and left Te Loco, in order to solely focus on other types of art.  In her senior year of high school, Maya became Chief Editor of her high school’s first literary magazine committee.  On July, 7 2012, Birmingham Community Charter High School published Branches on the Tollway,  with Maya spearheading the project as well as contributing her earliest artwork.  The book was a compilation of essays, poems, short stories, and artwork depicting the emotional landscape of adolescence trying to find human contact in an isolating environment.  At first, the book received mixed views amongst teachers, administrators, and parents; some saw Branches on the Tollway as a vulnerable yet honest anthology of youth  discovering their identity as they try to create and maintain relationships, while the themes of substance abuse, suicide, and sexuality were too mature and inappropriate for most readers.  The praise and infamous of the book laid the foundation for a burgeoning high school tradition that’s popularity has immensely grown in a span of three years. She graduated from Birmingham High School in 2012; unfortunately, her parents divorced a week before the ceremony.   Despite Maya’s prowess as a writer, her literary ability did not translate well as an academic writer.  She was denied college admissions from UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, University of Southern California, and Scripps College.  The only school she was not rejected from was Cal State Northridge, so after much negotiation with her mother, Maya donned the Red and Black and became a Northridge Matador. During Maya’s freshman year at CSUN, she underwent a thriving period where she was surrounded by talented, ambitious students and professors who pushed her to become more than she can be.  During Spring Semester 2013, Maya’s artwork and poetry was published in CSUN’s Pan-African Studies Literary Magazine, Kapu-Sens.  Now, Maya is currently involved in two college animation projects that she hopes to finish before she graduates.  Even though she has not made a set career path,  she hopes to continue honing her skills and growing as an artist and as a person.


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