For as long as she can remember, 20-year-old Maya Siegel has been passionate about doing good in her community.
When she started college, she was inspired to transition a life-changing experience, and her passion for community work, into an opportunity to create positive change. “I became a survivor of sexual assault at just 14-years-old and have only scratched the surface of my lifelong healing journey,” she said. “Four years ago, I was still holding shame and guilt that was never mine to hold.”
During her freshman year of college, she wrote an article about rape kits for Gen Rise Media. Its publication marked her first time speaking out about the topic and made her realize she was ready to continue using her voice to do more.
"My goal in all of the work I do is to share my lived experiences while also making space for others."
That same year, Maya started her organization. She has spent each day since fighting for and connecting with survivors so that they don't feel as alone as she once did. "My goal in all of the work I do is to share my lived experiences while also making space for others, empowering them to feel seen and heard," she said.
Maya is a digital strategist, entrepreneur, and founder of Space to Speak, an organization dedicated to giving youth a leading voice in sexual violence prevention. Meeting various organizers in the digital space helped inspire her to start the organization. “I use my voice to further the national conversation around consent and destigmatize mental and sexual health,” she said. “As a survivor, there is nothing more important to me than supporting and empowering other survivors, which is why I started Space to Speak in 2019.”
"Speaking from personal experience is always powerful. Your voice is just as valuable as anyone else's."
Maya was honored for her work in the Mental Health space through The ConversationaLIST, our annual honoree list recognizing exceptional Gen Z'ers making an impact simply by using their voices for good. She also uses her platform to candidly talk about her healing journey and uplift other young leaders' voices. "You don't need to be an expert to speak on a topic," she said. "Speaking from personal experience is always powerful. Your voice is just as valuable as anyone else's."
When she's not working with Space to Speak, Maya enjoys web design, hiking, and watching movies. She also enjoys spending time with her family, who she credits for building her into who she is today. “I hope people remember me as caring, ethical, and hardworking," she said.
Maya is grateful to The Conversationalist for creating a space that allows its members to look past partisan differences and discuss important topics. "As someone who has conservative and liberal friends, I often feel conflicted when people generalize that all democrats or all republicans are a certain way," she said. "I hope that the nation can become less polarized in the future because there is so much more to a person than their political beliefs."
"I hope that the nation can become less polarized in the future because there is so much more to a person than their political beliefs."
Maya hopes to continue to build a unified society in which people have mutual respect for one another. She encourages her fellow Gen Z'ers to move through life ‘with an open heart and mind’ to achieve this.
Thank you to Maya Siegel for using her voice to share her story and empower those around her. Keep up with her on Instagram to learn more about her work and how you can get involved with Space to Speak.