We Are First - Maia Laing
Maia Laing embodies the phrase “no limit, no boundaries”. From running the Boston marathon, hiking mountains,following her passion of the arts, teaching children to dance, walking in the women's’ march, to crossing over her passion and energy for giving a voice to the voiceless, Maia is letting her life do the singing.
Born and raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts, a predominantly black neighborhood in a town historically known for its racial divide, Boston. One thing many do not know about Maia is that she was born with Sickle Cell Disease, a genetic blood disorder that causes painful crises and organ deterioration that primarily impacts people of color.
Throughout her adolescence, Maia spent her summers attending academic programs. One of which was Upward Bound Math and Science Program where mornings started with speeches by the director. Thirty minute lectures on the importance of academic excellence and developing a mindset of achievement were delivered to a room of black and brown inner city students. Field trips ranged from college tours to camping in the woods to white water rafting. The motto for the program - “No limit, No Boundaries”
In between summers, Maia attended the first public High School in the United States, The Boston Latin School, founded in 1635. Sumus Primi (we are first) is the motto and reflects the culture of academic excellence that permeates the classics based curriculum. One of the top 20 high schools in the country, students are admitted based on examination scores and grades. In 2001, Maia graduated amongst a class of approximately three hundred students, less than ten percent were people of color.
“Fellow alumni and I still work to unpack racial tension that was thick in the air”, describes Maia, “advisors did not recognize historically black colleges as being options for black students”
It was the summer of 2001 when Maia was informed that she received the academic based Presidential Scholarship to Hampton University, a historically black college located in Hampton, Va. Maia’s older cousin attended Hampton and ultimately her younger brother, a family tradition was born. Days were spent in class and nights were spent in dance practice, Maia was a member of the Terpsichorean Dance Company (a modern dance company). As a student Maia would enjoy attending basketball games or checking out the day parties outside the cafeteria. As an alumni Maia lead the Boston and Baltimore Chapters of the National Hampton Alumni Association. Bringing alumni together and helping to spread the word of Hampton is important to Maia, attending Hampton you learn that you belong to a big Family.
“Some of my closest friends I met my freshman year at Hampton University” says Maia, “I am impressed whenever I find out a person I admire went to Hampton”.
Maia is currently a Senior Business Consultant for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She looks back and reflects on being first generation born american on her father’s side. Her grandmother is the founder of Raising Our Children's Children, member of the first youth bowling team out of Boston to win the state championship, student of the first high school in the country,dancer in a Broadway audition, completer of the 2014 Boston Marathon, graduate of the only all women’s MBA program in the US, supported the founding of the Boston Tap Company, co-founder of the liturgical dance company at Concord Baptist Church of Boston, studying abroad in china, flying a plane and cameo on world star. She sums up her family reflection by saying “At Hampton our school song includes the words – as our lives do the singing”
Maia has a rich heritage of academic excellence rooted in family and community.
“She makes it her personal responsibility”, Says Amber Dickerson, former mentee from the Big Brother Big Sister Program of Boston, “to uplift those around her without expecting anything in return”.