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AU Excellence: Student, Artist, Scientist, and King of the Carnival

Black excellence comes in the embodiment of someone who is willing to use their talents to represent their core values and for the service of others. TreVaughn Ellis, a multi-talented Biology major at American University, is only a sophomore, but he has already made a profound impact on campus by using his talents. Ellis, who aspires to work within the microbiology or genetics field, uses his love of science, his artistic talent, and Jamaican- Black American identity to influence his experiences. TreVaughn set a goal to maximize his time and experiences at AU and has already made contributions to campus and its culture in his first year in person. 

TreVaughn is already achieving his goal by participating in the Caribbean Circle pageant, the garden club, the beekeeping club, and co-president of Brother Brother club–a mentorship organization on campus whose goal is to build an intentional Black and Latinx community on campus by connecting upperclassmen with underclassmen to share knowledge, connections, and brotherhood. Participation in the aforementioned clubs, allows him to infuse all of his talents and identity into campus involvement. The greatest symbol of TreVaughn’s infusion is his mural painting, revealed in Nov. 2021, in the community garden highlights his passion for science and his artistic talent. 

Ellis’s use of shapes and colors within his mural art piece at the garden is one of great artistic ability and it is reinforced through his love of science. As explained by the sophomore student, his inspiration for the piece started off with considering the “seasonality of the painting and the seasonality of the garden.” Additionally, as his planning for the mural continued from one season to the next, He notes that he was “inspired by a lot of the shapes and even the color palette from the garden itself.” The mural painting has a clear saturation and colorful vibration with the use of pink, yellow, maroon, and orange which also contrasts nicely with the green of the garden. Due to Ellis’s love of science, he intentionally used yellow within the mural because he knows that pollinators’ and bugs' love for the color yellow will attract them to it. Essentially through his art piece, Ellis wanted people to view the garden as, “a place where there is intellectual, natural, and scientific thought.”

Ellis’s deep thinking with science and his art is greatly credited to his childhood influences and inherent cultural influences.  From a young age, his Jamaican family instilled a great work ethic and the need to positively affect change within the community he is a part of. His grandmother, in particular, bought him and his brother crayons and colored pencils to color with as she watched them. Even his father, while on a subway train, reinforced his love of science by using different color legos to explain how cells work. All these core memories with family members reinforced his passion for education, science, and art influence Ellis to this day, and thanks to his family, he can use his talents at AU. Another way Ellis contributed his talents to AU is by participating in the Caribbean Circle pageant and being crowned the King of the Caribbean pageant. Ellis explained that “being able to represent the grace, strength, and beauty of Jamaica on the stage was the true honor to [him]. Winning King of the Carnival gave [him] a material crown that joins with the one [he’s] inherited from [his] family.” 

In all, Ellis continuously honors his Jamaican heritage, family, and artistic talents on this campus and he encourages other students to do so.

The Kehinde Wiley-inspired artist implores Black artists, specifically, to “put [their] work out there.” Parting with this very insightful call to action, Ellis through his actions and wisdom truly embodies AU excellence, and he has so much more to accomplish in the years to come.



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