Huntington alum Maya Bengston in Gold Coast, Australia.

Alum Maya Bengston Makes Mark Across the World

Huntington alum Maya Bengston in Gold Coast, Australia.

February 7, 2019

One of the best photographers to ever come out of the Huntington High School program, Maya Bengston has been producing stunning images since she was a teenager. Her audience is much bigger today as the senior social media coordinator for the World Surf League and its 12 million followers across multiple platforms.

During her years at Huntington High School, Ms. Bengston swam, fenced and ran track with the Blue Devils. But she really shined as a photographer, working closely art teacher Pamela Piffard, who also served at the time as the yearbook advisor. Hundreds of Ms. Bengston’s photos appeared in print.

Maya Bengston in North Shore, Oahu.
Maya Bengston in North Shore, Oahu.

“Maya has always been a joy to be around,” Mrs. Piffard said. “She is charismatic, adventurous, kind and creative. There was never a doubt in my mind that she would be successful. I’m so very proud of her and this life she has built for herself.”

Ms. Bengston graduated with Huntington’s Class of 2009. She went on to attend the School of Visual Arts for two years before transferring to Fashion Institute of Technology and obtaining a business degree in advertising and marketing communications. She moved to Los Angeles in January 2015 to pursue her dreams.

“Thanks to all of my internship experience through college, I was able to land a social media coordinator role at the World Surf League back in 2015 and I’ve been there ever since,” Ms. Bengston said. “I’ve gone from coordinator to social media manager to my current position as senior social media manager at the company.”

The World Surf League is the governing body of professional surfing. “Think the NFL or NBA of surf, but on a global level,” Ms. Bengston explained. “Our championship tour travels to eight different countries during a 10-month season to crown a man and woman world champion.”

The Huntington alum has always been exceptionally creative and hardworking. “As the senior social media manager, my role is non-stop,” Ms. Bengston said. “It’s a role that covers so many different responsibilities. I edit daily video, write copy and program content to go live across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube reaching over 12 million followers.”

As a Huntington senior, Ms. Bengson captured the Outstanding Achievement in Visual Arts: Photography Award. She was a standout at the district’s annual art show.

“I build paid advertising strategy and manage campaigns to promote our live events,” said Ms. Bengston about her current position. “I live and breathe social media trends to ensure we continue to be a leading company in social content. Surf is a challenging sport to market, as our event schedule relies on Mother Nature delivering waves. We can’t promote a game that starts at a particular time like traditional sports, which is why our targeting strategies and social media reach is a crucial component contributing to our watch hours.”

Ms. Bengston’s creativity has only grown since her Huntington days. “My favorite part of the job is live promotion and coverage of our events,” she said. “I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world with the Championship Tour and create content with our professional surfers,” Ms. Bengston said. “A significant part of my role is story-telling through social media by conceptualizing, producing, shooting and editing content. I have been able to work with so many incredible athletes, tell their stories in and out of the jersey, and experience new and amazing places.”

Many of the skills the Huntington grad began to refine as a high school student are being put to good use in her position with the World Surf League. Mrs. Piffard is outwardly proud of her former student.

“Storytelling through visual content has always been a part of me ever since I was a photography student of Ms. Piffard’s,” Ms. Bengston said. “Even though I transferred to major in business in college, having a creative background has been a significant part of my success in my job.”

Ms. Bengston is remembered around Huntington High School for her smile and outgoing personality as well as for always having a camera in hand.

“Travel is also a passion of mine and I found a job that requires travel and to incredible places,” Ms. Bengston said. “I’ve been to France, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, lived in Hawaii and Australia for months at a time and have been able to experience the world and get to call it work.”

The Huntington grad’s daily audience on the social media platforms she manages is enormous and certainly much greater than almost anyone else could ever dream of attracting.

“I work with people from so many different countries, backgrounds and skill levels and I get to work directly with the most talented athletes in the world,” Ms. Bengston said. “Being able to do what I love and am passionate about is incredible”.

The Huntington alum shared some helpful advice to those studying at her alma mater today. “I’m grateful for the opportunities and people I met to get me to where I am today,” Ms. Bengston said. “Internships, networking and using time in school to gain experiences across as many fields as I wanted was such an essential part of me ending up where I am now. Try everything, stay humble and know that all experiences have a purpose.”

Here are a few of Ms. Bengston’s fun work examples:

- She produced this shoot.

- She spearheaded, produced and edited this project.

Huntington High School Class of 2009 member Maya Bengston in Bells Beach, Australia.
Huntington High School Class of 2009 member Maya Bengston in Bells Beach, Australia.
Maya Bengston filming a Facebook live surf session in Maui.
Maya Bengston filming a Facebook live surf session in Maui.
Two-time world champion John John Florence with Huntington grad Maya Bengston.
Two-time world champion John John Florence with Huntington grad Maya Bengston.
Huntington grad Maya Bengston in Cascais, Portugal.
Huntington grad Maya Bengston in Cascais, Portugal.