Ellis Twiggs, a recent graduate of University City High School and its NAF Academy, plans on attending Western Missouri University in the fall majoring in computer science. He has a partial scholarship to attend. After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree, Twiggs wants to join the United States Secret Service.
Twiggs has always been an eager student. He grew up in Illinois and was always reading and learning, which was not considered the typical norm in his school. Twiggs stated that “I grew up with people who didn’t like how different I was and bullied me because I was different.” He added that he did not blend in with people of color either.
Later on, Twiggs moved to Missouri to live with his father, where he attended a private school that had a majority of Caucasian people. “I didn’t really have anybody there that I could talk to that was the same color as me that understood what I was going through,” said Twiggs. With the transition to a new school, Twiggs had to work hard to catch up with his peers. “After a while, I got there,” said Twiggs.
At U. City, Twiggs pursued his interested in technology, which was sparked by his grandfather, a blind man. Twiggs stated, “He used to always tell me how he wants to see me and how old I have grown. I always wanted to make a solution for that.” He added that he wants to pursue technology to make real solutions for the world.
In high school, Twiggs was an active member of NAF Academy, where he worked with three different companies — MasterCard, KPMG, and Worldwide Technology — as a paid intern. At those companies, Twiggs would present his ideas and solutions to a problem. His team made an app and won the Best Use of Innovation Award. Twiggs also recently interned with Ayinde Wayne in the school’s technology department for two class periods each day. He fixed Chromebooks, Smartboards, printers, and the Wi-Fi.
With his transition to a new school and a new city, Twiggs also became a resident of St. Louis, a city plagued with deep-rooted issues of segregation and gun violence. Twiggs stated, “You realize that there are people who don’t like you because of your skin color or are afraid of you because of how you look on the outside.”
Twiggs went on to comment on the George Floyd murder and protests. His father, a sergeant for public safety, informed him that in the Police Academy, officers are taught how to use their knee to pin someone down; it goes on the back and nowhere near the neck.
“When he explained to me how they train the police, I realized more that the officer did it on purpose,” said Twiggs. “This has happened multiple times, but the government officials aren’t listening.”
“It sucks that you even have to fear for your life when you are pulled over,” Twiggs added. He went on to explain the dangers of looting. “It’s hurting our community,” he said. Instead, Twiggs suggest that people try to boycott companies so those in power understand that there needs to be change, that George Floyd wasn’t the exception.
Twiggs explained the dangers of the news and how specific groups, particularly African Americans, are portrayed negatively in the media. He concluded with advice he would give to other students: “Don’t let social media nor the news nor what happens around you define what kind of person you are.”
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