Maya Murchison

2024 - SAN DIEGO

For the past three years, Maya Murchison, a senior at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California, has represented the voice of Black youth across the state as a senator and current president of the Black Students California United (BSCU). In response to feeling isolated during the pandemic, Maya founded the Black Student Union (BSU) to create an environment where underrepresented African American students at her school could feel a sense of belonging. Additionally, in her junior year, she launched the African American Mentor Program (AAMPed) to connect high school students with local middle schools for mentorship and support, recruiting her peers and training them as mentors. AAMPed aims to foster a sense of belonging and support for Black students by promoting cultural pride and teaching Black history while encouraging dialogue about race through debates on sensitive topics such as the use of racial slurs. To keep things engaging, AAMPed incorporates art projects (like quilting), music and games (such as Black bingo and trivia) into their meetings. At the end of her junior year, Maya organized a one-day conference that brought middle school students to Eastlake High School to celebrate AAMPed's first anniversary. The initial goal was to impact 15-20 students through AAMPed, but by the end of the program's first year, it had grown to include over 100 students. Students participating in AAMPed reported feeling more connected to other Black students on campus and experiencing a greater sense of belonging as a result of their involvement with the program.