Student Spotlight: Ty’Aaron Ennis
Ty’Aaron Ennis’s (Political Science ’21) family is counting on him to graduate. And, when he does, they expect him to forge an unprecedented pathway to a generation of wealth for his African-American community in Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston. “Chasing the American dream is not the same for everybody,” says Ty’Aaron. “In reality, it is influenced by where you come from and the opportunities you get. I can work harder than anyone, but given the color of my skin, the other person might still have the advantage.”
Ty’Aaron is a first-generation college student at NEC, where he has embarked on a personal journey to change the world. Part of the LGBTQ+ community and of African-American descent, Ty’Aaron finds himself navigating advocacies for Black and Gay rights. “I want to expose inequities across mental, physical, and spiritual spaces. The lessons I am learning at NEC are preparing me to do just that.”
A political science major and an NEC senior, Ty’Aaron has been called mature for his age. This, and diplomatic. He credits his upbringing for these attributes, embracing an ongoing sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of others as well as himself and evolving from the moment he stepped foot on campus. By the time he was a sophomore at NEC, Ty’Aaron had been selected to serve as a Resident Assistant, a peer leadership role that he juggled along with his service as Student Senate Treasurer. He was also involved in a broad range of civic engagement opportunities: participation in NextGen America, a progressive advocacy and political action organization, and CiviCorps, which is part of The Center for Civic Engagement and made up of student volunteers who embody the spirit of Ut Prosim, “that I may serve.”
“I worked with other students to arrange speaker events, presidential town halls, and presentations,” Ty’Aaron says. “What an amazing opportunity! I got to speak one-on-one with people like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.” The Center for Civic Engagement leverages New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status by hosting U.S. presidential candidates, campaign leaders, and election officials.
Also during his sophomore year, Ty’Aaron traveled to Brussels to meet with members of the European Union Council. He and his classmates accessed a series of high-profile events and venues. “The experience changed my life. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do for a career. My favorite courses are international relations and diplomacy. I can see myself doing this for a living. I know I will fit right in with the world community.”
Now in his final year, Ty’Aaron lives off campus with two roommates, which is a learning experience in itself. “We have had to overcome cultural differences in every aspect of our home life. I am from Boston and I love seafood. One of my roommates can’t stand the smell of fish. We have different ideas about energy efficiencies, cleanliness, and simplicity. These things have to be negotiated with a respect for each person’s different background and experience. It is kind of a model for what I can expect in a broader landscape internationally.”
Ultimately, Ty’Aaron considers himself to be an advocate. “I have to be humble, to be a realist,” he says. “I have to be willing and able to look out for others, but also to look out for myself. Without self-care, I won’t be as effective.” Ty’Aaron will graduate in a virtual ceremony in May, at which time he intends to chase his dream to practice diplomacy abroad, a first step in making the world a better place for his family, for others, and for himself.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The New England College Magazine. Ennis graduated from NEC in the spring of 2021.
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