Belen Yudess ’25
Social Media Manager
Maya Lynch ’22 is a rockstar. Being SAS president is a daunting task any year, but it requires a special person to take on this challenge after returning to campus after a year and a half online. Although there were many new paths to navigate, Lynch always prioritized the well-being of the Scripps community. She is a humble leader, a thoughtful activist, and a genuine person who strives to bring out the best in those around her.
Lynch is originally from Montgomery County, Maryland. A politics major, she first realized her passion for the field her senior year of high school when she participated in a student protest. Lynch co-founded the organization that planned this demonstration, MoCo for Change, which fights for a variety of social justice issues and helped to get police out of schools, which culminated in the largest student walkout in D.C, Maryland, and Virginia history.
During this experience, Lynch was assured of her love of advocacy and working with other like-minded people. “I think I’ve always been lucky to be surrounded by cool people who are working on social justice issues,” she said. “Learning from those around me, I think [that] got me into it before then, but that was probably my first real jump into organizing.”
Although Lynch was not set on a politics major when applying to colleges, Scripps proved to have a passionate and vocal student body that shared her values. “I remember coming to Scripps and there was actually a protest to get Sodexo, which was our previous dining hall service provider, out of Scripps,” said Lynch. “I watched students, specifically protesting when I came to visit and I was like oh, damn. They’re cool.”
This protest also introduced Lynch to the power that an entity such as SAS can have in creating change, citing Niyati Narang ’20, the SAS president at the time, as a contributing factor to the success of the Drop Sodexo Movement.
Lynch did not immediately join SAS upon her arrival at Scripps, but first got involved her junior year when she ran and was elected as class co-president with Madeline (Maddie) Moore ’22. The dynamic duo hosted many innovative events and continued to advocate on behalf of the Class of 2022. “I did a jewelry student artist workshop that I really love[d], which I actually carried into SAS president this year,” said Lynch. “I love working with student artists so much and loved seeing them share their skills with students.”
Following her term as junior class co-president, Lynch was not planning on running for SAS president. The inspiration came from the 2020-2021 SAS President, Safia Hassan ’21. “I had no interest in running for SAS president,” said Lynch. “I knew I wanted to be in SAS again. But maybe as senior class president, definitely not as SAS president. Then Safia actually called me one night and said, I think you should run. And I was like, absolutely not, no thank you. But then after talking with her and thinking about it for a really long time, it felt like a good next step. So I ended up running and here I am.”
After making this decision, Lynch ran unopposed for the position. She campaigned on the basis of uplifting student voices and fighting for the concerns of the community. One of her first major projects as president, on the behest of a student suggestion, was changing the reimbursement system for CLORGs.
“SAS operated on a reimbursement system, which meant if you were leading a club and wanted to buy pizza, you had to do that out of pocket and then wait for reimbursement from SAS,” she said. “Reimbursements are still [an] option, but that was one of the big things that I really wanted to work on because I think it’s such a barrier for lower-income students who are leading clubs.”
To rectify the situation, SAS partnered with PEX, which is a company that allows SAS to give pre-loaded debit cards to student club leaders. SAS was then able to place a CLORG’s budget on the card so all expenses could be directly charged to the SAS budget.
With Lynch’s leadership, SAS has accomplished many other impressive feats this past year. Among many projects, they have been responsible for assisting with transporting students to Ontario and LAX airports for spring break flights, creating a winter break housing program, stocking menstrual supplies in each dorm, and Sunday Snack.
“I love that SAS gives me the chance to act on issues as they are coming up,” said Lynch. “If we get to a break and realize that students need rides to the airport, we can work on getting airport shuttles, or if we realize that students don’t have housing over winter break, we can create a whole housing program to ensure all of our Scripps students are housed.”
Lynch also appreciated SAS’s ability to facilitate community through grants and additions to residential spaces. “I also love that I can work on community building events,” she said. “We’ve got two student murals going up in the student union very soon. We did community grants that I was proud of and I also love that we can have a forward facing outlook, where we’re doing things like ensuring all students have access to free menstrual products or kitchen supplies.”
Looking back on her first day on the job, Lynch reflected on her initial nerves. “I remember our first meeting, I sat down in the student union and was like, I have 17 people who I’m not in charge of, but am supposed to lead — my voice was shaking,” she said. “I didn’t know how to lead a meeting. I had done that a little bit [before], but not on that scale. So even just trying to coordinate 17 different people was stressful and I had no idea how to do it.”
Lynch notes that the passion and endless support of the SAS team have allowed her to become more comfortable in her position and grow as a leader. “One of the things that I appreciate most about Emily [McElroy ’22, current SAS Executive Vice President], but also SAS as a whole is that I feel like I frequently just walk into a meeting with six ideas of things that I want to do, and I’m just like, ‘hey, does anyone want to take this idea on and see if they can make it happen?’” said Lynch. “Frequently that means that I’m leaning on Emily or other people in SAS to be facilitating different projects. Everyone’s so supportive, and always so excited to tackle new projects, which I really appreciate.”
Lynch is not only responsible for connecting and actively working with SAS and the rest of the student body — but she is also a direct mediator for administration. Although this can prove challenging, this experience has taught Lynch the importance of communication and determination.
One part of her meetings with administration includes figuring out COVID-19 policies to maintain an environment that is safe for the community. “In meetings with admin to discuss COVID policies or advocate for students, we think [of events] that are COVID safe and how we encourage a community that cares about all of our students, especially our immunocompromised students in this setting,” she said.
Aside from her duties on SAS, Lynch has spent her final year at Scripps spending time with her friends and enjoying living on campus. This includes off-campus adventures or hanging out with her girlfriend. One of Lynch’s favorite memories from this year involves her suitemates, a bed-couch (or bouch), and H2O. “Me and my suitemates have been watching H2O together,” she said. “And just getting to be exhausted from busy days, coming together and curling up on our couch and watching H2O is really fun.”
As this year comes to a close and next year’s SAS board prepares to begin their term, Lynch expresses her gratitude for this opportunity to make an impact on the Scripps community and work with an exceptional group of people. “This position was scary for me,” she said. “I was worried about compromising my values in this position. I was worried about not being able to do as many things for students as I wanted to. I feel like at every point I have felt fear or stress in this position, Scripps students have shown up, whether it was in telling me that this was a better way to do something and I got to pivot and listen to them, or friends just supporting me through something. Or the SAS board telling me, ‘Maya, that’s a ridiculous idea. This is better.’ I just feel so grateful towards the Scripps community for supporting me, and for letting me lead in a way that I hope has made Scripps a better community for students and made sure that we are centering our most marginalized students and building a community that cares for everyone.”
Image Source: Vivian Monteiro ’23