Perseverance. That's what it took for UNT Biological Science (pre-med) major MaiYa Giles and her family to rise above the calamity of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"One day, it was a normal day, like one every year before… I was shopping for school supplies with my mom and getting ready to start school. The next day, I was on the road to Katy, Texas, to get away from the storm," says MaiYa.
MaiYa came to Texas right away with her dad while her mom stayed behind with their belongings to wait out the storm. In transition after Katrina's passing, they sometimes shared living quarters with up to 11 family members. The family stuck together, eventually settling in Texas.
MaiYa will graduate in December with plans to earn a master's degree before heading to medical school. Her desire to help others is fueled by the memory of her family's time in Louisiana and seeing family members and others deal with the devastation, along with hearing stories from people along the way.
"In high school in Katy, I gained so much experience doing clinical rotations in radiology. I can't wait to graduate so that I can help uninsured and under-insured families in and around Houston."
In her spare time, MaiYa loves creating. She makes customized and personalized items such as signs, apparel and gift boxes on Instagram under the handle @madebymai_.