Reinventing the Game: Mya reaches for the stars
By Daisy A. St. Rose for DaMajority
Mya is an up and coming young creative and STEM student who intends to blend two of her passions to create a successful career for herself while making a positive impact on her society and the world. She is a past student of the St. Joseph’s Convent Secondary School in Saint Lucia and received the National award for CXC Mathematics in Form 4 and the National Awards for Physics and Visual Arts in Form 5. At the Antigua State College (ASC), she attained High Honours in all subjects as well as ‘Top Performer in the Science and Mathematics Faculty and Overall Top Performer in the Liberal Arts Department. Mya was also a finalist valedictorian nominee of ASC. Distinctions in her Cape results for Physics, Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics and Computer Science further highlight her passion for Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Alongside her studies over the past two years, Mya managed to cement her place as a published illustrator, first for “Sak Sa”, a local creole activity book, and most recently as one of the illustrators of the Sargassum comic book, an initiative of the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise. Past and current research about girls and STEM reveal a large gender gap due in part to females being pushed away from typically male dominated fields. This young lady intends to change the narrative for women by smashing through the STEM boy’s club to reinvent the game for women in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean and the wider world all while promoting black excellence, black girl magic and girl boss vibes. I met up with Mya to ask her 47 questions.
Daisy (D): Bonjour Mya ek bon fete kweyol (Translation: Good day Mya and Happy Creole day). Sa ka fete? (Translation: How are you today?)
Mya (M): Bonjour ek Bon fete Kweyol Madam. Mwen bien merci. (Smiles).
Daisy: Thank you for being here and it brings me great joy to interview you today with 47 questions. Your first question is ‘On a scale of 1 -10, how excited are you about life right now?
M: Thank you for having me, It is my pleasure to be here. To answer your question, I I would say an eight. I wake up every morning very aware of the blessings I have. I have a roof over my head, good food to eat, being with my family. But at the same time, there are so many ideas and projects I have in the back of my mind that have yet to come to fruition. So, I think that is what leaves me pretty dissatisfied.
D: Describe yourself in a hashtag.
M: [Laughs] Hashtag ‘girl-boss’
D: Awesome! What would you say is your biggest weakness?
M: My biggest weakness would be that I hesitate before I start something at times.
D: Okay, and what would you say is your biggest strength?
M: My biggest strength would be that once I start to gain momentum, there is no stopping me.
D: What is a cause that is important to you?
M: I would say…umm—do I have to say it in an artistic light or a scientific light?
D: Any one is fine.
M: Okay. Sustainability is a cause that is important to me. I always look for ways in which I can practice it. It could be through my art or the work I do as a STEM student that can contribute to the sustainability movement. That is something I want to be apart of in the future.
D: When would you say you are most inspired?
M: I feel most inspired in nature—hence why I feel it is important to protect and sustain our environment. I also feel inspired when I browse the internet. I have unlimited access to inspiration from across the globe at the click of a button.
D: Sweet or savory?
M: Neither! Sour [laughs]
D: What song can you listen to on repeat?
M: Oh gosh! Since I’m in the Jounen Kweyol spirit, any kweyol song gets me moving.
D: What makes you smile the most?
M: Doing fun things like this interview [giggles]
D: What is the one thing people don’t know about you?
M: Hmm…that’s a hard one. I am generally a private person, but once I consider you to be in my close circle, I’m more or less transparent. I feel like I have two sides. People who know me for my artistic side, tend not to know my strong interest in academics and my aspiration to be an engineer. But if you know me for my academic side, you tend not to know I’m artistic. It depends on what side of the coin you’re at. I sometimes feel like I’m living a double life like ‘Hannah Montana’ back in the day.
D: Thank you Mya. What are three things you cannot live without?
M: I cannot live without a pen and paper. I consider that one item. Writing down ideas helps is the first step towards finding the inspiration to bring them a step closer to reality. And then the basics- food and rest.
D: Lip gloss or lipstick?
M: Lip gloss all the way!
D: What is the most adventurous thing you have done in your life?
M: I did these a couple years aback. Ziplining! Zipping through the trees several meters above the ground was a terrifying but exhilarating experience.
D: How would you define yourself in three words.
M: Ambitious, optimistic and creative.
D: Dream country to go to?
M: Japan seems like a fascinating place to visit and because I watch a lot of anime.
D: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
M: You have the power to de-escalate or pacify a situation. ‘A gentle word turns away wrath’ is one of my favorite phrases to live by.
D: What is your pet peeve?
M: Not being genuine.
D: What is one thing you wish people understood?
M: I wish people understood that they have the power to change their situation.
D: Now why did I think you would say that? (smiles) What is your biggest regret?
M: I try not to keep regrets but I would say any opportunity that I let pass by because I doubted myself and my abilities.
D: Your favorite app?
M: Instagram. It connects me with other creators around the world and also inspires me.
D: Secret talent?
M: Playing the guitar.
D: How do you start your day?
M: Oh! I try to remain in my own personal bubble for as long as possible. I would normally start it with meditation, then move to prayer, then exercise. Probably jot down things in my journal because I try to practice mindfulness. Then get something to eat. Then I’m ready for my day!
D: What is your favorite piece of clothing you’ve ever bought.
M: My black cardigan. It goes with every outfit.
D: What is something you still want to be doing in ten years?
M: I want to be drawing and creating – that make me happy.
D: What is the best thing that happened to you this year?
M: [Face lights up] There are two things. I finally got the opportunity to make my art a profession. I was an illustrator on ‘Sak Sa’, a creole activity book aimed at educating St. Lucian youngsters on the creole language. I also participated in a Sargassum comic book project with the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise, which aims to educate the region about the benefits and uses of sargassum. I was also studying at the time but both projects were very long but very rewarding.
D: What is one thing you had to learn the hard way?
M: Time management. You can never get back lost time.
D: Diamonds or pearls?
M: Diamonds. They are a girl’s best friends.
D: What makes you feel accomplished?
M: Anytime I see the results of my endeavors. Effort in equals results.
D: Favorite food?
M: Anything my mother cooks.
D: Favorite snack?
M: Anything my mother prepares.
D: What is a superpower you wish you had?
M: I wish I had to ability to fly. I would have the freedom to explore the beauty of the world.
D: What is your favorite color?
M: My favorite color is coffee brown.
D: What is something you would like to see happen in our society (for artists)?
M: A million-dollar question. How much we invest in our local creatives needs to improve. I still feel that there is a lack of support for our local creators. I have connected with people from all around the Caribbean whose content can compete on an international stage but the lack of support definitely slows down the rate at which they are able realize their dreams. That definitely needs improvement. Of course, there is the issue of how difficult it is to import materials etc. However, things that are free, like supporting and promoting our own needs work. There is so much potential that is yet to be tapped into in that area.
D: Good! And I agree. What is the most important thing your mother taught you?
M: Among the many valuable life lessons, the one that stood out to me is investing in yourself. You are the one responsible for how far you can go. Ignore the naysayers and just do it! (as the Nike ad says).
D: How would you describe your upbringing?
M: It wasn’t conventionally lavish but I enjoyed it very much. I had a pleasant childhood. I am blessed to have grown up in a safe environment with parents who love me and encourage me to pursue my passions. They support me whether it be cheering me on or providing the resources to explore new opportunities. It has been good!
D: Who is your role model?
M: Why do we always have to chose one role model. I have a growing list which is updated weekly! On a more serious note, a very influential person has been Les Brown. I have been following him for a very long time now and have applied his advice in real life, even to this very day!
D: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
M: Every day I wake up, it’s a new day and I am alive. That is always an opportunity to do something new or do something better.
D: What do you want to be remembered for?
M: I want to be remembered for pushing the—[pause] It is as if when you’re from St. Lucia or the Caribbean, know one expects you to amount to much. I want to go beyond the expectations of what has been set confident that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. I want to be an engineer and an artist.
D: You want to break boundaries…
M: Yeah! For sure! I want someone else to be like, she did that, so I can do it too!
D: What is your biggest fear?
M: My biggest fear is actually planes—I don’t like flying. [laughs]. On a more serious note, it would be the thought of missing an opportunity which I could have used to propel me one step ahead to my goals.
D: How do you define beauty?
M: Beauty is very much what is on the inside, as cliché as it sounds. I see beauty in a person by how he or she treats others.
D: What do you love most about your body?
M: [Without hesitation] I love my skin! I love the colour of my skin as well. And my hair.
D: If your life was a song, what song would it be!
M: [Breaks into Macy Gray’s song ‘Beauty in the world’]… Cause there is beauty in the world. So much beauty in the world. Always beauty in the world. So much beauty in the world. Shake your booty boys and girls for the beauty in the world. It was a song on my mother’s playlist on the car ride to school that we sang out loud each day. I really like that song because it reflects my optimistic personality.
D: Okay, so just two more to go I believe. If you had to make a documentary, what would it be about?
M: I would make a documentary on creatives in Saint Lucia. They or we deserve that. It would highlight the resilience of the creatives, how they make do with what they have, maybe even improvise at times given the limited resources but are still able to create something great. I believe in ‘it’s not the tools you have but rather the ‘how you use these tools’ principle.
D: What makes you laugh?
M: I am very easily amused so the lamest joke or puns make me laugh. I try to find joy in a lot of things.
D: Any last words for your audience?
M: Yes, to recap what I said earlier. You have the power to change your circumstances and, in this day, and age there is a wealth of resources available at your fingertips. Yes, I am referring to you as you read this article on your device! Never doubt that you won’t be good enough, it came your way for a reason. Just give it a try, always try!
D: How do you feel now that we’re done?
M: I feel very relieved and curious as to how the article will turn out. All the best Daisy!
Thank you so much Mya. We wish you every success that is for your highest good. You can follow Mya Instagram@myasymi to view some of her black inspired pieces and black excellence.