Maia Rose LaskoMaia Rose Gumila Lasko is a 17 year old junior and Honor Roll/Advance Placement student at Warren Township High School where she has earned her first college credits as a freshman. She is the daughter of proud parents, Jennifer Gumila Lasko and Greg Lasko, sister and best friend of Joshua. She is the granddaughter of proud grandparents, Romeo and Corazon Gumila, and Jerry Lasko and Pat L. Cowan.

Maia had the opportunity to travel to seven countries in Europe as a United States Student Ambassador. There she studied world history and international culture as well as volunteered for environmental services in Germany. She recently also travelled to Spain, Italy, Turkey, and China to expand her international experiences. She has been awarded a Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens certificate, received Superior Student Citizenship Awards, and five times Student of the Month Awards. She has volunteered for peer coaching, arts and recreational events, environmental services, Feed My Starving Children, and the Chicago-Philippine Lions Club. She serves with great honor as president of the Chicago Philippine Leo Club.

She loves to swim, read, travel, and spend time with her family and friends. Maia enjoys and loves all of her cousins: Kassi, Elisa, Matt, Colin, Jacob, Amelia, Penelope, Parker, Emme, and Karl. One of the most important things to her is helping others whether or not she gets recognized for it. Maia greatly enjoys doing community service to help others that are less fortunate. She is also very grateful for her family who have supported her in her volunteering and traveling efforts.

Maia says: I greatly admire Martin Luther King Jr. because of the lasting impact that he has had on America. I was born on Martin Luther King Jr. day and from a young age I was fascinated by his quiet strength. He did not need to use violence or force to change the cultural landscape of America. Even today, his spirit lives in many people’s lives. Dr. King stressed peaceful protesting for just causes, an important aspect that I wish all people of every race and ethnicity applied more to their lives today especially in the battle again terrorism.

The violent attacks that took place in Paris, due to ISIS, were devastating and shocking not only to its own citizens, but to the entire world. Unfortunately racism, inequality and religious persecution still exists today involving acts of violence. A fact that I know Martin Luther King Jr. would be saddened and disappointed about, as am I. I am dedicated to living my life for tolerance, acceptance and peace. I hope to inspire others to do so as well, so our differences can be celebrated, not humiliated and our dissimilarities can become similar.

The most important lesson I have learned is to make a daily conscious effort to positively impact other people’s lives, regardless of who they are. I believe this to be the key to happiness. I have had so many opportunities to meet so many amazing people all over the world, and over the years I have realized that there is beauty and light in everyone. I constantly think about the people who have made my life great. I think about those who are alive, those who have passed, and even some who I have never even met that changed my life for the better. I think about how they’ve positively affected me and how I want strive to do for other people what they have done for me.

I see MLK’s spirit in my family’s lives; when my parents and grandparents serve others and treat people kindly. I am grateful for my family who keep their values and do not perform majestic deeds to be noticed, but by simply living their lives with humility and respecting others.