By Sophia Seda
Brentwood High School
Maya Ratner first became interested in journalism at a young age when she constantly heard people say to her, “You are just a little girl! What do you know about life?”
The Ukraine native who is now a 17-year-old rising senior at Leaders High School in Brooklyn, used these snubs as fuel to learn as much as possible to debate and prove her views to others. But it was her aunt who helped channel her interest in world affairs to journalism. And it was the death of her grandparents that converted her to an atheist lifestyle and persuaded her to take her writing seriously.
One of Maya’s greatest struggles is organizing her words. “I have a lot of passion,” she said, “and it’s challenging to not include my own emotion or bias when creating a piece.” Her inspiration is Georgina Wolf, a British novelist who led a large feminist movement that challenged the way women were perceived in journalism.
Her best friend, Nika Tatoshvili, first learned about Maya’s writing talent “when I first read her essay on Georgian literature lessons.” He added that “she is the person who exists by helping other people.”
Maya hopes to be accepted by an Ivy League college and major in communications and anthropology. After graduation, she plans on becoming a writer or journalist. Her main priority is to share important information with the world, “creating works that are more than just engaging but also deep and philosophical.”
Other than writing, Maya loves singing and theatre. She directed an original play that was performed at her school, and won an award for it.
If she had any advice for her future self, it would be “find a way to be yourself” and “stop judging yourself so much.”
After Maya took a career exploration class, her teacher recommended for her to apply to the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists at Stony Brook University. When filling out her application, she submitted original poems and her play. “I was excited and surprised to be accepted.”
Maya’s advice for other aspiring journalists would be “don’t be afraid of being yourself. Writing should be a way to calm and accept yourself. If you were born to do this, you will do it your whole life.”