About Dekonti Davies

davies dakontiMy name is Dekonti Davies, and I am a graduating senior at Walter Payton College Prep. I live on the south side of Chicago where hopes and dreams are easily crushed. Raised in a community infested with drugs and high school dropouts, I was determined to be different and developed a desire to want a better way of life for myself and my community. Because of my living environment, I was never allowed to play outside with the other children. My weekends and evenings were spent studying science and mathematics. While my peers were getting into trouble in the neighborhood, my mind was challenged and prepared to understand science and math concepts and my body was conditioned to dance. My participation in math and science activities became an integral part of my life. I have always been involved in math and science activities. Currently, I am an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and I have served as the president of the NSBE, Jr. Chapter at Chicago State University. I have been to every NSBE regional and national convention since I was born with the exception of one because my mother could not afford the expenses associated with the event. I had a fit and vowed to never miss another conference. Through NSBE, I found my voice. My passion for math and science was cultivated through NSBE activities. As president of my local chapter, I developed leadership skills and communication skills. I prepared for math competitions and was a member of the NSBE Try-Math-a-Lon team for four years. Try-Math has helped me to handle the difficult math and science courses at Walter Payton College Prep and to earn an ACT composite score of 30. Last year, my team came in third place at the NSBE Regional Try-Math-a-Lon Competition. As a participant in the NSBE Engineering Design Competition, I have spent many Saturdays at Chicago State University working on designing and programming robots. My team and I would start at 9:00 a.m. in the morning solving math problems and stay to the wee hours in the morning designing and programming robots. The robotic competitions have prepared me on how to be professional and how to work as a group. Robotics has taught me a lot about engineering.

I plan to attend the University of Missouri after graduating from high school to major in biomedical/electrical engineering and minor in dance. I also plan to attend medical school after I earn my undergraduate degrees. While there may appear to be a vast contrast between my intended college major and minor, I discovered a relationship between the disciplines. Science and dance taught me discipline and how to process situations one step at a time. These fields of study have helped me to decide on a career in engineering.

In addition to NSBE activities, I was inspired to seek out other STEM related activities. I learned about biomedical devices after participating in a summer research program at Chicago State University. At the university, I studied electromyography (EMG) and learned that EMG signals can be used to help disabled people gain the use of a lost limb with the support of biomedical devices. The summer project was to design a robotic arm that could be controlled by EMG signals. After the program, I continued my research on the topic and found that biomedical engineers were developing technology to assist people with poor eyesight. I became interested in this topic after my Na-Na confided in me that she had been diagnosed with diabetes. Because of my extra-curriculum activities and the love and support of my Na-Na, I had a happy childhood. Na-Na was always transporting me from robotics and math practice sessions to dance classes. She always made sure that I was prepared for my sessions and that my belly was full. As her health started to decline, Na-Na mainly suffered with loss of vision. I witnessed her experience painful eye surgeries that were unsuccessful. I wanted to help Na-Na. I wanted to help her restore her eyesight back to normal. However, the only help I could offer was to write out her checks and help her read the morning paper.

I also have a vision disability as a result of being born two months premature. Nystagmus, an involuntary eye movement, is my disability. I experience limited vision and have trouble focusing. When I get too tired, one eye shuts down and the other eye has to do double the work. Never wanting anyone to treat me differently or notice my eye conditions, I was in denial about my disability. I had a hard time seeing but worked extremely hard to compensate for my short comings. People noticed and I grew up with comments like "Your eyes are moving. You must be lying.” Or "What are you looking at?”

My dreams for my future are to become a biomedical/electrical engineer. My plans are to design biomedical devices that could help people like my Na-Na and myself. I would love to travel to struggling countries where diabetes is prevalent to offer my professional services. My plans are to specifically assist and educate others about diabetes and to create biomedical devices that will assist a diabetic person with their failing eye sight due to symptoms of the disease.

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