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Remaining Positive Is Best’s Advice

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

“But, in the end of your story, I hope that you can say that you had the greatest adventure ever because that’s what life was really made for.”
– An excerpt from "Adventure," a poem in the book “Strength,” by Elizabeth "Maya" Best

Maya BestVivacious, motivating, unique and inspiring. These words, according to Susan Janik, perfectly describe Elizabeth Best, or Maya as she’s known around the campus of St. Louis Community College-Wildwood.

Best met Janik in 2016 when she enrolled in her first course at STLCC. Since then, the two have spent dozens of hours together, with Janik lending her support as a notetaker and friend.

Best noted three factors that influenced her decision to study at STLCC -- quality, accessibility and access.

“STLCC was a logical option for me because my parents attended the College, as did my older sister, and they all had a great experience,” Best said. “Adding to this, I’m disabled with a condition called Mitochondrial Disease (Mito for short), so I’m in a wheelchair. The Wildwood campus has been a been a good fit for me because it’s accessible as well as close and convenient to my house. I also like the extra help I receive from Susan.”

Although Best is pursuing an associate degree in general transfer studies, she aspires to earn a bachelor’s degree in English or communications.

Ellen McCloskey, professor of communications, believes Best is on a path to success.

“In my Oral Communications class, Maya participated openly and delivered interesting speeches on outstanding topics. She also helped other students to speak freely when giving presentations and offered suggestions for ways they could relax and overcome their anxiety,” McCloskey said. “Maya is a skilled communicator, so if she continues to work hard, I’m confident she will achieve her goals.”

Outside of class, Best devotes time to writing. Over the years, she has read many of her poems during STLCC-Wildwood’s Open Mic Nights. This spring, she also published “Strength,” a collection of works that represents her musings on life and the people and things that inspire her.

Maya Best, Susan Janik and Stephanie Church“I like to write about girl power and loving yourself,” Best said. “Some of my poems focus on the things that I go through with my disability as well as the experiences of my younger sister, Bella, who also has the same genetic disability. Despite the challenges we face, we always try to stay positive and tough. It’s my hope that my writings inspire others and remind them to see bright side of things like I usually do.”

Aside from school and writing, Best enjoys spending time with family and friends. She participates in swimming and dance, and is involved with Team Activities for Special Kids, a nonprofit instructional sports program that provides athletic and social opportunities for kids with special needs.

When asked what advice she would offer others, Best replied, “Never give up on your dreams. While things many be hard, it’s important for you to keep on being who you are because the world will notice.”

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