It’s a great time to be a girl! The impressive accomplishments and uplifting attitudes of these three local teens are ample inspiration for all of us to work hard and dream big to make those goals a reality.
Paige Hauschild: Athlete
Local water polo fans already know the name Paige Hauschild: she’s been a standout in the pool since she first started playing at age eight and is now one of the star attackers on the San Marcos High School, 805 Water Polo Club and Olympic Development Program teams. At a mere 16 years old, she’s also making a name for herself internationally. Last year, she played in Hungary. This spring, she competed in New Zealand with the USA Water Polo Women’s Senior National Team, alongside Olympic-level athletes, some almost twice her age!
It’s a lot to juggle—along with school work, family and “trying to hang out with friends at Hope Ranch Beach as much as possible”—but Paige does it all with characteristic grace and skill.
Paige Hauschild with local Olympian Kami Craig
She offers this advice for other up-and-coming athletes: “It definitely takes a lot of commitment and, as hard as it always seems, it always gets better. Everything always pays off. I went through a time when I felt just overwhelmed with water polo when I was younger and, as you get older, you kind of accept that it’s kind of what you need to do if you want to play at really high levels—you have to keep playing. You have to be committed. It’s been amazing. All the hard times definitely paid off.”
Indeed they have. She’s already been on college tours of her dream schools UCLA and Stanford) and has set her sights even higher, saying, “It would be a dream come true to go to the Olympics, and I really hope that I get to.”
We’ll be rooting for her all the way.
Aija Mayrock: Author
A victim of bullying in elementary and middle school, 19-year-old Aija Mayrock claimed her power back with a vengeance as the author of The Survival Guide to Bullying, recently published by Scholastic.
“One day, I realized that I had to create a little, yet powerful survival guide that any kid could use as a life-saving device when they were being bullied in the gym, the cafeteria, the locker room, the classroom, the hallways—anywhere. A guide that could be a road map, a flashlight or a friend,” says Aija, who graduated from Anacapa High School and is now a student at New York University.
Aija originally self-published the book, because “we wanted to just help kids. …I wanted it to be as cheap as possible for every kid. But then it was just a dream when Scholastic came along.” The contents—including her original Rap poems or “Roams” at the start of each chapter—are much the same as in Aija’s original book. “They loved it, and it basically is as is; we deleted a chapter and, we added a really wonderful chapter called ‘getting help.’ Then we did a Q&A with myself and an epilogue.”
Aija Mayrock’s book, The Survival Guide to Bullying
She gives much of the credit for turning her life around to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). When she and her family moved to town after eighth grade, she wrote her very first screenplay on the day of the deadline for SBIFF’s 10-10-10 student film competition. It was about bullying.
Aija won that competition and says, “I’m so grateful to them because this book would not be here if I had not found my passion through that competition, which is so incredible because it’s accessible to any kid in this community.” Now, in addition to her college studies, Aija travels to speak to kids about bullying, as well as pursuing her other interests in writing, acting and being an activist.
As for taking center stage and speaking out against bullying, Aija says she’s conquered her fears. “There’s a quote that I now live by. It’s, ‘Everything that you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.’”
Sydney Shalhoob: Singer
Santa Barbara’s 2015 Teen Star winner is hardly new to the stage. Now a 15-year-old sophomore at San Marcos High School, Sydney Shalhoob began singing when she was three years old, with pipes so impressive
that professional sports teams took notice, resulting in invitations to perform the National Anthem for the Lakers, the Kings, the Dodgers, the 49ers, the Sparks and the Angels (for seven seasons)—all while still in elementary school.
“I’ve always loved to sing,” says Sydney, who wowed local audiences at Granada Theatre last spring with a soulful delivery of “Creep,” by Radiohead, to take the top Teen Star honor, which earned her a slew of performing opportunities, a bit of cash to further her musical career and a professional recording session at Santa Barbara Sound Design.
Sydney Shalhoob with pop star Ingrid Michaelson
Although she worked as a professional model from age three to 11, and tried her hand at acting (“I was not the best actor,” she laughs), Sydney has always had a song in her heart and hopes to study voice in college one day. She currently studies under Carolyn Teroka Brady at San Marcos, participating in the A Capella and Enchante singing groups. She was an alternate the first time she auditioned for Teen Star, which Sydney admits, “taught me a lot. We grew up together, and we definitely grew as singers. I think being a part of Teen Star is my biggest accomplishment at this point.”
That may be true, but keep an eye—and an ear—out for this rising star. We have a feeling that you’ll hear a lot from her for many years to come.
Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.