“you’ll be surprised how willing people are to share with you, when you open up to them”

It’s with great pleasure that I announce this new series after a stagnation of blog posting! I’ll be featuring some of my beautiful and amazing friends. Hoping that their stories will shed some inspiration in your life ❤ A brief intro to the incredible Maya Burhanpurkar which won’t do her justice compared to the hundreds of articles and Wiki about her but I’m going to do my best. I heard of Maya’s story when I just entered high school and I was in awe because in that moment I felt empowered to do something without feeling that I was too young to do so. Whether it’s winning in all categories of Google Science Fair, being awarded Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 or the Queen’s Jubilee, she is grounded through her research . Her experiences working at MaRS and the Perimeter Institute and her advocacy for sustainability is truly phenomenal.  She shot this documentary with Chris Hadfield and Margaret Atwood at the age of 13! I really don’t think I could do her story, her accomplishments, and who she is, justice but I’m going to do my best. *Must watch her documentary*


What I admire about Maya is that she is grateful and is able to see any opportunity as a moment for growth. Among various things that I love her for, she continually inspires me. As a thirteen year old, I remember hearing about Maya’s work the first time and I was literally mind-blown by her determination and her ability to positively impact those around in her in the STEM community. At a time when I had just recently been bullied and felt incapable of doing anything, Maya was actually my inspiration who propelled me to believe in myself and believe that despite age, anything is possible. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with Maya a few years ago when I met her at U of T because she is one of the sweetest people ever. Full of humility, humour, kindness, and ambition. I absolutely had to take the opportunity to showcase her story on my blog!

My conversation with Maya transitioned from a catch up to a conversation about tackling challenges and then to her passions which propel her forward.

Maya made a transition from work into university this past year and as we recalled our own experiences of university, she recalls how easy it can be to fall into the obsession of grades. As university students it can be especially relevant because the bigger picture of school can be lost. School can sometimes seem meaningless due to that focus on grades and its personal aspect where grades are something that we do only for ourselves or self interests. Though academics can have its very challenging moments, Maya touches on two aspects that helped her through those moments. First, have a space to talk to people such as having a support group of good friends. Second, find your sense of purpose.

When it comes to connecting with people and fostering friendships, Maya’s words really resonate with me, “You’ll be surprised how willing people are to share with you, when you open up to them.” For Maya, she was quite shy and introverted but this past year she focused on actively creating meaningful relationships where she put aside time to really get to know people. Sometimes we forget how much we can learn from someone when we give them our time and our trust. But once we take that first step to engage with someone, it can unlock a lot of potential. Dr. Kalanthi once said ” life’s meaning, its virtue, had something to do with the depths of the relationships we form.”


So when Maya is going about her daily life or tackling some rougher waters, she draws a lot of strength from her relationships either with those at her college or her relationship with her parents. Her parents have supported her immensely and really helped her rise beyond some experiences that she recalls as challenging but not negative. We both relate to experiences with bullying, but this experience catalyzed her self-sufficiency and ignited her passion to discover new things. The self-sufficiency aspect is crucial because even though people matter, Maya also learned at a young age that friends but aren’t the only things that give a person purpose. And this understanding is crucial for all of us: people around us should never dictate our worth and that we should never change ourselves, especially our values, for our friends because our lives are defined by things beyond our friends as well.

Maya’s discovery of her passion drove her to finding her purpose, which brings us to the second point. Finding that sense of purpose is so crucial in all of our lives because when things get tough it can be that small reminder that there is something out there that matters. For much of Maya’s life, research has kept her going because it has provided her an opportunity to work on something bigger than herself and to do something that one day may contribute to bettering the lives of others. And after a lot of hard work, Maya’s research article that she has spending the past year on is out! Feel free to read her work here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1707.05301

If you asked me five years ago that I would be friends with Maya, I would have laughed because I never knew our lives were meant to pass. But my friendship with Maya has taught me so much even before the moments that we met. Maya has achieved so many things at such a young age and impacted so many lives, but what inspires me the most about her is how she shines with such light. She always makes me laugh and she sees experiences with such gratefulness and positivity that is truly contagious. As cheesy as it may sound, her light ignited mine again after I lost hope in recovery last year. So a parting lesson I leave with you is that may we all use our lights no matter how bright or dim, it’s there, to ignite another so that another light can grow brighter and stronger.

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