Hello, I’m Najee Walker. I am a City Academy alumna from the class of 2012 and I am grateful to have the opportunity to receive the Alumni Award from Wells Fargo Advisors, as well as flattered that City Academy nominated me.
I began my journey at City Academy in 2004 and am ecstatic to continue this journey. City Academy is more than a school to me, it is in fact my second home. I never realized the impact of City Academy until I was in middle school and the environment was different. I found myself longing for the loving community but I was aware that City Academy had prepared me well to take on any task presented to me. The lessons I learned here will last a lifetime. One of the key lessons for me was to never to be afraid to stand alone in my values and beliefs. City Academy encouraged and taught me what it means to be a strong and outspoken leader.
The values of strength and leadership provided me the opportunity to join a program called Cultural Leadership. This program is for teens who have the desire to create real change in the world or as Cultural Leadership states create “troublemakers of the best kind”. I participated in this intense yearlong program including over 500 program hours and a rigorous 3-week summer transformational journey in which I met Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Justice Clarence Thomas, Senator Claire McCaskill, and many other influential people. We also visited important historical places such as the holocaust museum in D.C, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where we participated in a slave simulation, and the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Upon graduating from Cultural Leadership, I, along with a group of Villa students, began a long over-due Diversity Club. I was elected President and shortly after, my leadership skills were put to the test after a racially charged incident that took place at Villa. The Diversity Club and I continued to educate Villa’s community and create a safe space for uncomfortable conversations surrounding oppression and privilege. During this time, City Academy mentored and supported me as I supported my secondary school community through these challenging times.
City Academy continues to be ever-present in my life. City Academy alumni programs such as STRIVE for College at Washington University, a program that prepares and helps advance students to college, and the Alumni Student Committee, which is active in the Saint Louis community, have allowed me to stay in contact with peers while being productive and creating change within the Saint Louis community and myself. You can often find me at City Academy in my free time. I frequently volunteer on off days and during the summer. Last summer, I was an employee for City Academy. I can honestly declare it was the greatest first job in the history of first jobs. I am also here every day after school to pick up my sister, as well as being here on special occasions.
Through hard work and determination because of lessons taught by City Academy, tested and reinforced at Villa, I am confident and assured that I will be able to handle new and trying obstacles as I continue my journey to college. Thank you, City Academy and specifically, Ms. Nikki, for being constants in my life. I am privileged to have such an amazing group of educators and administrators in my corner. I would also like to thank Villa for opening my eyes and forcing me out of my comfort zone, while empowering me to be the best scholar and leader I can be. To my family, thank you for the love and constant persistence to strive for my dreams. It takes a Village to raise a child and knowing that this village is supporting me as I aspire to create change while becoming a Congresswoman and future President of the United States, I could not be more hopeful and grateful. Vote Walker 2044. Thank you.