Some might say Maya Baza is living a “dream year.” In the day and age of celebrities, with adults and children alike proclaiming living their “best life,” the Oakdale 12-year-old is well on her way.
Maya, an Oakdale Junior High School seventh grader, was named one of six winners earlier this year in a “Dream Big” Competition hosted by Claire’s, a worldwide fashion jewelry and accessory company.
“It was what your dream is when you grow up and how would you achieve that dream,” Maya said of the online competition.
Participants submitted writings based on a list of questions, as well as a video submission.
A total of six young women from thousands of submissions were chosen, three from the United States and three from the United Kingdom.
“My dream is to become a pastry chef,” Maya said, recalling little of what she actually wrote in the spring, but much of what transpired after learning she was a winner.
As reward for her submission and to kick off her position as a Claire’s Brand Ambassador, Maya, along with her mother Sarah Walther were flown to Los Angeles. The all-expense paid five day trip included hotel and accommodations, shopping, fun with her fellow winners, as well as photo shoots and the Claire’s Dream Big Awards.
“It was a private event at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” Maya said of the awards event.
“They paid for everything,” mom Sarah shared of the memorable experience with her daughter. “We didn’t spend a penny.”
“Claire’s also had a pajama party with the six of us and three social media influencers,” Maya stated of spending time with her fellow winners. The event doubled as a photo shoot, which may be used at a later date for promotional graphics on the Claire’s Style Book website or in stores.
In addition to being named a brand ambassador, Maya was also asked to be a part of the Cybersmile Foundation collaborating to prevent cyber bullying.
“I was chosen as one of the Dream Big Ambassadors for the Cybersmile Foundation,” she said, noting that in her writings/blog entries she encourages kids to speak up when bullied.
It’s not all work and no fun for the seventh grader, however. She regularly receives packages of current merchandise from the accessory retail store. Most recently one package contained a mermaid costume and accompanying accessories. The request that came along with the product … simple; bake up three original Halloween-themed cakes, write a blog about her creations and submit to Claire’s with photos for the website.
As both a typical tween girl, as well as a lover of all things baking, this hardly felt like work.
“I just really love baking a lot,” Maya said of the recent assignment, as well as the cakes she created herself.
“My favorite thing to bake is triple chocolate chunk cookies,” Maya shared.
That comes from a recipe she created herself at the age of eight and has “tweeked” a few times. The recipe includes semi sweet, white and milk chocolate chips. She and her mother further shared, nothing is ever written down, but rather committed to memory.
Maya describes the overall experience as both fun and rewarding.
Now with that support, some fun exposure and a bright future ahead of her, the 12-year-old has her eyes set on pursuing her dream.
“I would describe myself as determined,” she said. “I’ve applied for the Kids Baking Championship Show two years in a row now and I keep trying. I’ve been baking since I was four years old and by five I was baking independently.”
Getting to bake as part of her ambassador ‘job’ is truly icing on the cake.
“I feel happy about it,” she said of being selected. “I feel really happy and I feel inspired to go achieve my dream, because I know there’s so many people supporting me now. I also like it because I’ve made some lifelong friends that I’m best friends with now.”