The Importance of Kindness, Ambition, and Keeping an Open Mind According to Class of 2019 Valedictorian, Maya Fuchs-Bortolami

Maya Fuchs-Bortolami, a skilled photographer and rising star in the art world, will always remember her proudest moment at York Prep. This moment took place when she delivered her class of 2019 valedictorian speech after Lin-Manuel Miranda’s York Prep commencement address. In addition to this crowning moment, Maya also looks back at some other highlights from her time at York Prep. Read on the learn more!
What school did you attend before York Prep?
I attended the Studio School, also on the upper west side. 
Why did you choose York Prep?
I chose York because of the Jump Start program and what it could offer for me. I came from a school with no grades, and York’s structure was necessary for me as a transition from my last year of middle school to high school. 

What clubs and/or sports did you participate in?
I was a runner in track and field since eighth grade, and I started the Museum Club as a result of my interest in art. I was also involved in student government, and was a photographer in the photography club. 

Who do you look up to at York?
I look up to some of my favorite teachers that have taught me throughout the years. Each one of them made me curious about whatever we were learning, and encouraged me to accomplish things that weren’t on my radar. Apart from teachers— there were some students in the year above me that became close friends and mentors to a degree. 
What are three characteristics that you aspire to embody? How do you (and did you) apply these characteristics to your student life?
Kindness, ambition, and open mindedness. Being kind is important when you’re around people that you interact with everyday. Being ambitious is the road to being a successful student. And lastly, being open minded is essential when trying to understand someone else’s opinion. 
What was your favorite subject and why?
History and English were my favorite subjects because they were what make me most interested and intrigued to learn more. They also contributed in different ways to my overarching passion for art history. 
Who were your favorite teachers and why?
My senior year, both Ms. Marshall and Mr. Clarke introduced subjects and ideas to me that I had never thought of before. Everyday I was excited to go to class, and that is no exaggeration! From my end, the questions never stopped, and they both always had answers and more. 
What was your best memory at York? What moment/achievement are you most proud of?
My best memories at York are the times when everyone would be in on a joke, including the teacher. I’m most proud of the time I had to give a valedictorian speech after Lin Manuel Miranda’s commencement address and the Chopin piece played by my fellow classmate who happens to be a piano prodigy, Taiki Shen. 
If you could give advice to yourself as a student entering York Prep, what would it be?
The advice I would give to someone entering York Prep would be to accept and embrace the help that this school offers. I learned how to be a student at York, and that is because I took every opportunity of help that was available for me to use and learn from. 
What is/was your favorite spot for lunch?
The açaí bowl at juice generation even in the dead of winter! 
If you recently graduated, tell us about your 5 year plan.
In the next five years I will be attending the university of St. Andrews in Scotland, studying art history. After I graduate I will probably move to London and get a job in the art world (possibly at an auction house!).