The student news site of Kingwood Park High School


The student news site of Kingwood Park High School


The student news site of Kingwood Park High School


Maya Ortiz, 3rd

Q: What is your GPA, if you know it? 

A: 5.638.

Q: What are your plans after high school? 

A: I’m going to Yale University. 

Q: Why did you choose that school? 

A: Throughout the application process Yale became my dream school. Yale allows me to get a liberal arts education and undergraduate research opportunities. The resources, specifically the libraries, were an offer I couldn’t turn down. The Yale network from their recruiting tactics to their small student-faculty ratio made me confident that I am joining an incredible community of people.

Q: What do you plan to major in? 

A: I plan to major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Q: What career do you wish to pursue in the future? What has inspired you to chase that?

A: I want to conduct biodiversity research. I have wanted to work with animals since I was two years old. I started working at the Houston Zoo when I was thirteen, and it was there that I grew a passion for conservation. My work at the Houston Zoo has been the main inspiration for my future plans.

Q: Have you been in the Top 10 all four years of high school?

A: Yes.

Q: How did your rank look throughout high school and how did it change?

A: I was 4th in the beginning and later moved to 3rd.

Q: What did your schedule look like this year?

A: My class schedule this year is late arrival, AP European History, AP Macroeconomics/AP Government, OnRamps Chemistry, Newspaper, AP Literature and Pre-Calculus.

Q: What are your extracurricular activities? 

A: I am a member/of National Honor Society (vice president of leadership), Société Honoraire de Français, Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (co-president), Rho Kappa, Kappa Rho, Mu Alpha Theta, Science Honor Society and Quill and Scroll. I am the founder of Conservation Club. I am on the UIL academic team, and I am the editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Throughout high school I also participated in Key Club, French Symposium, Model UN and varsity softball.

Q: What do you do outside of school? 

A: I volunteer at the Houston Zoo, and I umpire youth softball games.

Q: What was your favorite class you took in high school and why? 

A: AP European History was my favorite class throughout high school. I really enjoy the subject matter, and the incredible teachers, Coach (Eric) Coovert and Mr. (Alan) Prather, made the class fairly easy by making the material engaging.

Q: What was your hardest class in high school and why? 

A: The hardest class I took in high school was geometry. I don’t understand shapes and how triangles are always applicable. I survived the year by asking Mrs. (Theresa) Robison for help. I could not figure out trigonometry until this year when I took precalculus with Mrs. (Jessika) Wells which explains why physics was my second hardest class.

Q: What teacher had the biggest impact on you? 

A: So many teachers have greatly impacted me through these four years, but I would say Coach Coovert had one of the biggest impacts. In the classroom, he has encouraged me to speak up when I know the answer, he has grown my passion for history, and he has taught me to embrace my nerdery. I also learned a lot from him while covering his battle with cancer for the newspaper. He taught me the importance of asking for help and staying relentless. 

Q: What would you say was your biggest accomplishment in high school?

A: My biggest accomplishment in high school is being named the National High School Photojournalist of the Year two times in a row. I am the only person to have received the award twice, and I won the awards with my freshman and sophomore year portfolios which were my first two years ever taking photos. I love being able to tell the stories of my community through photos, and it is incredible that I was able to get recognition for those photos on a national level.

Q: What’s a moment in high school that stuck out to you and why?

A: One memory that stands out is photographing Emma Yeager breaking the single season girls soccer team scoring record. I had just finished pitching a varsity softball game, and I made it to the end of the girls soccer game. I knew Yeager was set to break the record, so I picked up a camera and photographed the end of the game. I was able to capture the record-breaking goal and her celebration. The celebration photo was part of my first National Photojournalist of the Year portfolio. In many ways, I believe that photo is what started my journalistic success.

Q: If you could give freshman you one piece of advice, what would it be? 

A: Everything will work out. We have a plan, God has a plan, and the hard work will pay off. It was never a long shot.

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