Learn from Two Students Honored as 3M Scholars in Collaboration with UNCF

Josiah Christopher’s interest in learning how things function began when he was a child and progressed from building blocks and Legos to disassembling home appliances.

“My parents encouraged me to pursue my interest. So I participated in as many engineering camps, contests, automobile construction, robotics, and other activities as possible,” Josiah remarked.

As a junior at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, the natural next step was to major in mechanical engineering.

Damenica Ellis, a sophomore at Howard University, is motivated to share her knowledge with others because she is passionate about learning.

“I want to inform people about what is going on around them and be a voice for underrepresented groups who might not have one,” she said.

Josiah and Damenica are two of 49 3M Scholars who have received scholarships from UNCF (United Negro College Fund) to help them further their studies.

“Here at 3M, we are so inspired by the 3M Scholars who are academically preparing to change the world,” said Michael Stroik, vice president, Community Relations. “This program was created to help transform lives through scholarships and career exploration opportunities and UNCF does an incredible job advancing this work.”

Josiah used the scholarship to support his schooling, and being a 3M Scholar means enduring through anything and everything. He attributes his ability to continue his education to the scholarship.

“I was not doing well in school and had to take a break,” Josiah remarked. “But they still helped me get back on my feet by providing tutoring programs, resources, and individuals who were available to assist. They recognized my need and provided assistance in meeting it.”

Josiah’s long-term goals include bringing science fiction to life and developing technology that allows solid objects to phase through matter.

“I’d like to be part in the creation of something inspired by science fiction, such as teleportation or the ability to walk through walls. I believe that with what we have going on and what 3M is capable of, that is a very real possibility,” he remarked.

STEM has had a significant impact on Damenica’s life, beginning when she was young and her parents gave her the freedom to investigate and explore on her own.

“One Christmas, my mother gave me an experiment kit. It was constructing a circuit to turn on a light, but as I finished the instructions, there were other things you could build and tests to run,” she explained. “My father’s innovativeness had an impact on me, too… He would create something out of nothing; he was a true innovator in his own way. One winter when we didn’t have a sled, he attached some extension wires to the top of a garbage can. I had the time of my life.

When it came to deciding on a college major, the multidimensional Damenica chose one that would combine all of her interests – Media, Film, and Journalism, with a focus on journalism.

Her history in experiments and learning about a variety of topics is useful in her current major, she says, where STEM issues play a larger role than people realize. She is learning how to create websites, graphics, and other digital content so that she can share her experiences and knowledge with a big audience.

What technology is she most enthused about? Advancements in medical technology.

“I was motivated last summer when I spent the day at the 3M Center speaking with 3M engineers. They are doing such vital work for society, but some individuals have no idea what an engineer works. “I want to change that,” Damenica stated.

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