Saddleback Valley Unified alum aces Advanced Placement drawing exam

Maya Benham

An alumnae from the Saddleback Valley Unified School District aced a college-level Advanced Placement exam in spring 2022. 

Maya Benham, now majoring in art and design at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, was one of only 343 students in the world to earn every point possible on the College Board’s AP Drawing exam

Having loved the arts since childhood, Maya knew she wanted to pursue the field when she entered high school.

“Receiving a perfect score on my exam really helped validate my abilities as an artist,” the recent Trabuco Hills High School graduate said. “It’s one thing for your parents and friends to tell you that you’re a great artist, but it’s an entirely different thing for a group of professionals, who have seen thousands of works of art, to confirm that you have a strong artistic ability.” 

Maya Benham artwork
Former Trabuco Hills High School student Maya Benham created this piece of artwork.

AP Drawing is an introductory college-level drawing course where students refine and apply drawing skills to ideas they develop throughout the program. 

Prior to moving onto college, Benham received the Peter and Masha Plotkin Memorial Foundation Scholarship, which awards donations to visual and performing arts students.

“Maya is a uniquely talented artist,” Principal Alicia Foulk said. “Her work shows a creative lens that professional artists aspire to achieve. We are incredibly proud of this achievement for Maya and her family. She is an outstanding representation of the artists at Trabuco Hills High School.”

The AP program enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both — while still in high school. Through AP courses in 38 subjects, each culminating in a challenging exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue — skills that prepare them for college and beyond. 

Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most challenging curriculum available to them. 

Benham has published several of her pieces on this Instagram account.