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Senior Spotlight: Maya Adel

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19-year-old psychological sciences student and Regents’ Scholar Maya Adel is graduating from UCI with a 4.0 GPA this spring. She will be one of the youngest students to enter the University of Chicago’s School of Law this fall. Adel plans to use her legal education to empower the next generation to pursue and prioritize its education. 

Adel was accepted to UCI as a criminology, law and society major but later switched to studying Psychological Sciences. She spoke with the New University about her journey at UCI, which began at the age of 16.

“I thought it would be really cool to see the intersection between psychology and our [surrounding] environments. A lot of my coursework was on intersectionality and how gender plays a role in how the workplace functions — it’s pretty cool. I love my major,” Adel said.

During her time at UCI, Adel was part of several organizations, including pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta. Outside of UCI, Adel was also an intern with UN Women, which she described as an “amazing experience” that helped convince her to pursue law.

“It’s really nice to have people who are going on a similar path. It’s motivating for sure,” Adel said. 

Adel credits UCI with helping her gain the confidence and skills she needs as a lawyer and individual.

“As I went through the motions and went through college, I became more confident in myself, and I definitely think that’s something that UCI gave me — confidence,” Adel said. “I was a very shy, anxious 16-year-old when I started, and now I would say I’m more confident in my abilities.”

Developing strong relationships with professors was another valuable part of Adel’s experience at UCI.

“I would be at all my professors’ office hours [and] come up with questions to ask them just to be in that room or Zoom call. I would honestly do research on my professors because you’d be surprised how multidimensional the professors at UCI are,” Adel said. “They’re scholars, they do research, they teach. They’re so many different things.”

Looking back on her time at UCI, Adel shared some of her insights and offered advice for incoming students.

“Never compare your day one to someone’s day two. Everyone is on a different path,” Adel said. “I’ve defied a lot of expectations and norms. I’m Egyptian, and in my culture, women are supposed to do certain things at a certain time in their lives — and I never followed that. I did what was right for me, and I didn’t compare myself to anyone.”

She also said that hard work was instrumental to her success and encouraged future UCI students to do the same.

“It doesn’t matter what your age is — it just matters how hard you work and how passionate you are about what you’re doing. I never took on any job, commitment or extracurricular that I wasn’t ready to give my 110% to,” Adel said. 

Lastly, she encouraged other students to participate in organizations and to understand what leadership means.

“I think a leader is someone who strives to make their peers leaders of their own. That doesn’t mean telling people what to do; it’s allowing people to shine in the way that they can,” Adel said.

She looks forward to furthering her love of learning and passion for law and justice at the University of Chicago this fall, particularly through the global human rights clinic and legal writing curriculum. 

“University of Chicago has been my dream school since I was very young […] so it’s definitely a place that I want to be,” Adel said. “[It’s] a place that will challenge me, and it’s full of opportunities.”

Sabrina Henderson is a Campus News Staff Writer. She can be reached at smhende1@uci.edu.