Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maya Allen: New Places, New Faces and Good Vibes

A room full of college students chewed on some bagels, sipped on some coffee and waited. The group, also known as the 2014 American Society of Magazine Editors summer interns, was excited to kick off the summer in New York City. 

One woman, however, may have been a little more tired than the rest. 

Maya Allen reached the orientation in a bit of an unorthodox way. A bus brought her to New York City from Washington D.C., but it was a plane that dropped her off in the nation's capital – a plane from Ghana, Africa, to be exact. 

Allen spent two weeks in the West African country through a cultural immersion program with Howard University. Sure, she experienced some of the sights of Ghana, fed monkeys and walked on rope bridges, but she also saw a side of the country that changed her perspective.

"That was an eye-opening, life-changing experience," Allen said. "It taught me that we have nothing to complain about [in the U.S.]"

Allen is no stranger to seeing new places or meeting new faces. In fact, she welcomes the unknown. 

She could have stayed in her hometown of Portland, Ore., after graduating high school. But that did't quite suit her fancy. Instead, she packed up and moved to Washington D.C. 

After her first year at Howard University she could have returned home or stayed on campus for the summer, like many people suggested. But, rather, she applied to nearly 100 internships and moved to New York City to intern at O, The Oprah Magazine during the break. 

"I love new experiences," Allen said. "My mantra is that I like to travel and connect with new people and be around good energy and just explore. I'm all about positivity, that's just how I live my life."

Allen, 21, was selected as one of 25 ASME interns this summer and works as a an editorial intern for the home, fashion and beauty departments at Woman's Day.

"I've always been this go-getter and wanted to do what people told me I couldn't do," Allen said.

Allen grew up in Portland with her older sister Taylor, whom she considers to be her best friend. Taylor Allen, who graduated from Spelman College and was accepted to Harvard Law School, believes her little sister will become a professional magazine editor one day. 

"She is extremely vibrant and full of life," said Taylor Allen. "She is very intentional about everything she does, whether it be her goals or her passions or her relationships. Because she's like that, she gives off a very sincere and down-to-earth spirit.

"Whenever she sets her mind to do something, it always has a broader purpose, which is that she likes to be a part of something that is meaningful and significant."

Maya Allen says that her goals and beliefs align perfectly with those of Essence magazine, making the opportunity to intern there after her sophomore year even more special.

"Essence has been my favorite magazine since I could read," Allen said. "I'm that girl that has loved Essence for forever, so that was my dream internship."

Essence has made a major impact on Allen's life and it remains at the forefront of her future plans. 

"I want to be living in New York. I want to be an Editor-in-Chief of a top-notch magazine, preferably Essence," Allen said. "I love that magazine. I feel like I embody the brand. 

"Ultimately, I want to be creating stories, creating content that in some way changes the world. If that changes someone's mind, if it uplifts or inspires them to feel beautiful ... that's my goal."

-- Andy Zunz, University of Central Florida, Field and Stream
Edited by Lauren Masur, Cornell University, Food Network Magazine 

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