Soaring Toward a Bright Future
January 2023 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Photography (top) by Hope Lindner
Determined is one word that comes to mind when speaking with Maitea Carbajal. This outgoing, fun-loving, industrious 18-year-old, originally from Santa Barbara, California, has planted her heart in the Lowcountry.
Maitea moved to Hilton Head when she was 8 years old, hoping this new beach town would be the last, hoping for positive beginnings and a place she could call home. Fast forward to 2022, Maitea has found her niche in the Lowcountry and absolutely loves it.
Homeschooled since the 8th grade, Maitea has not only had the time to find her passions, but she also has had the support of her family and friends to do so.
During her first year of being homeschooled, Maitea joined the Lowcountry’s Cadet Program of the SC Wing Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an US Air Force Auxillary with a membership of volunteers serving America’s communities, saving lives and shaping futures. Maitea took a fast hold on this group, and now five years later, she still enjoys it as a Primary Cadet, leading her community in almost every endeavor. In her first year of Civil Air Patrol, she went to bootcamp in Florida, where she was taught “team over self,” which as a 13-year-old is a hard lesson to learn. She now lives by this mantra.
“Not only did bootcamp give me a sense of community and teach me core values, it gave me friends that I still talk to now—five years later—almost every day,” Maitea explained.
The training she received and learning experiences she gained through the Civil Air Patrol has helped her grow and mature beyond her years. It became clear to her how very “young” she was when she started, not only in the CAP community, but in the world. However, she has learned skills and character traits that many grown adults don’t even incorporate into their everyday lives.
The Civil Air Patrol instills balance, determination and discipline into the youth of America by teaching them the way of our Armed Services. Learning how to react to emergencies, being able to speak properly on a radio and knowing how to deal with extreme situations are just a few of the experiences these teens get to dive into.
“I know I am young, but I put in the hard work to become who I am today,” Maitea said.
“We have a sister squadron in North Carolina, and their local emergency services were contacted about a missing child. After searching for three days with no luck, the NC sister CAP squadron was called in; they found the child within 14 hours. Like I said, we are young, but the training we are put through really does suffice in situations like this,” Maitea said.
With core values an intricate part of the Civil Air Patrol youth program, members truly have a head start to a successful future. Having this kind of experience is also an impressive resume builder, which is important to Maitea as she is currently applying to colleges for next fall. Looking at Clemson University, Anderson University and Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, she has a future full of opportunity and her eyes are set on one prize: law school.
As a self-proclaimed wordsmith, Maitea is bound to be in a courtroom or two. She has a passion for being articulate, and the determination to reach her goals. With help from the Civil Air Patrol, she has been provided internships where they simulate courtroom law and hearings in The Supreme Court. She got to interact and feel what politicians and lawyers encounter on a daily basis.
The Lowcountry Composite Squadron was one of the largest, most active on the East Coast, making their community even tighter and filled with active experiences. When Covid-19 hit in March 2020, the cadet program was shut down indefinitely. Once mandates were somewhat lifted, many students in the youth program transferred to the Savannah Squadron, but it just wasn’t the same. In January 2022, Maitea and 10 other cadets restarted the Lowcountry Squadron, and they couldn’t be happier. Even though their numbers are lower than normal, as they are still rebuilding, the impact they are making is bigger than ever.
Maitea is optimistic in all she does. When asked if she has words of wisdom she lives by, she responded, “That’s a hard question because there are too many quotes that inspire me. I live by creating memories, good or bad, they help you regardless. They teach you how you want to be and help you find out what you need in life. I say go for it! Don’t be scared and go
Go For It: This past summer Maitea was in Charleston for the Speech and Debate Nationals. As a team bonding activity, her team played soccer. She slipped mid-game and broke her femur. “I honestly look back at it now that I am healed, and I would do it again. I wouldn’t change my summer even if I could.”
Hobbies: Piano, painting and baking and cooking as much as possible. Maitea is a creative mind at heart and loves to experiment with her painting and cooking skills.
Family: Maitea couldn’t do all the things she loves to do without the support of her family. She is loved by her parents, two brothers and their dog!