Maya Van Wegenen is only fifteen years old, yet here she is an author on the preliminary list for Truman Award Nominees 2016-17. Years before she was born, her father picked up a book at a thrift store. The cover was faded and torn, but "there was something about it." Paging through it, he discovered it was titled Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide. Written in 1951, it "was full of tips and advice on how to achieve what seemed to be unachievable: improving one's social status." He found himself laughing right there in the store at some of the outdated ideas. He purchased it as an interesting piece of vintage pop culture. It resided in his chamber of curiosities (office) gathering dust in a cardboard box. Cleaning out her dad's office, lead to the book being handed off to Maya "Caretaker of Stuff No One Wants, But Won't Get Rid Of." It was written by a former teen model and was filled with quirky, sixty year old advice. Maya embarked on a grand experiment. Every month of her eighth grade year she would follow Betty Cornell's advice on one of the topics in her book, no matter how embarrassing or complicated, taking notes during the day and journaling at night about the positive and negative things that happened, empowering her in her quest to be an author and achieve popularity - whatever that is. This book is the result.
"Maybe real popularity comes from when you take time to listen to someone. When you actually care about them"
"Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others."
Truman Award Preliminary Nominee 2016-17