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Article One: Reinventing Herself: Maya Sinclaire, BSc'92

by John Draper

Winter/Spring 2006 Trek Magazine

Maya Sinclaire has always had dreams, and step-by-step goals to achieve them. In her early years, her dreams and goals were aimed at escaping the Communist repression in her homeland, Czechoslovakia. When she finally got off the plane in Vancouver in 1984 at the age of 21, Maya was dumbstruck. "It was like that cartoon you see where the fish cut a hole in the tank and they're now flopping on the table and one is saying to the other, 'Now what?'"

She had picked up a few English words in textbooks in her homeland, but she soon learned they were useless. "They were all British words, like 'lorry.'"

But her goal was to earn her college degree. "When I left, against my parents' wishes, my father yelled at me, 'You'll never make it without us! You'll never go to college!'

"Once in Vancouver, unable to speak English, she found a job at a Czech restaurant, waiting tables. "When Canadians came in they had to point at what they wanted on the menu. They were all making fun of me," she said.

She wasn't able to save any money for college from her minimum wage job, so she took up a loan and went to UBC.

She worked her way through college and earned her degree in agriculture, and set her sites on becoming a veterinarian.

"But I soon realized I was getting too old to end up with huge veterinary school debts. It didn't make any sense," says Maya, now 42.

She got a job as a research assistant at a lab in Vancouver, but her head was still full of her dreams and goals. Maya had always thought of new ways to do everyday tasks - so it occurred to her: she'd become a full time inventor. She was determined to come up with one new idea every day.

Her most successful invention to date, and the one closest to being marketed is the AQUABlanket. "For people who like to relax in the bathtub and maybe read a book, the water gets cold very quickly. There are covers for swimming pools. Why not a cover fora bathtub? So I created this insulated blanket that floats on the top of your bath water. The blanket even supports your reading material."

She came up with the idea, where else? In the bathtub. "That's where I do all my thinking and reading," she says.

She has many other inventions at various stages of the marketing process. For example, the Kite Control Anchor, which can be used to guide up to three kites at Maya Sinclaire shows off her invention, the AQUAblanket. Once a boon for kite enthusiasts and also a potential source of propulsion for ships.

"At first, I thought I needed to invent revolutionary things. Now I see that the way to get ahead is to take something people already use and improve it. So many brilliant inventors died penniless, and then 50 years later their inventions were accepted by society. I'm not going to be poor. I'm going to be a rich inventor."

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