Meet Natalie

Grade 12

Basketball record-breaker.
Social justice advocate.
Student Diversity League co-president.

She levels the playing field on and off the court.

Senior Natalie has racked up 1,000+ points in basketball, but that’s not her greatest score. After finding her voice at Ellis, she is helping build a world that stands up for everyone.
As co-president of the Student Diversity League, she’s a lead planner of the Culture Jam diversity summit that draws students across Pittsburgh. She’s working to change representation in her own school and to address fairness on a bigger scale.

Here’s how Natalie's passion started at Ellis

List of 6 items.

  • Finding her voice:

    In the lower grades, she was a little shy. But now she’s the one who often points to the elephant in the room. ”Now that I’m educated and know how to use my voice, I’m able to explain what I’m experiencing — and why I think it’s not right or not fair. If no one else is going to say something, I might as well speak up!”
  • How a class changed her thinking:

    Unlike most English classes, where she analyzes another author’s work and then writes clear arguments in response, Poetics Of Social Justice focuses on a different story: Natalie’s. “I really like reading and listening to other people’s stories. It helps me better understand other people’s points of view—and also helps me tell my own story. This is the first time that I’ve written, for an English class, purely about myself.”
  • How Ellis builds her confidence:

    Learning to present—and defend—your ideas is an Ellis trademark. “Our teachers treat you like an adult and respect your opinion just as much as anyone else’s. They foster an environment of asking questions, challenging the status quo, and never taking the first answer you get. They always push you to be better. That definitely shaped my expectations of myself—and how much I can do.”
  • How she’s changing the world:

    After Ellis, Natalie intends to study political science in college and continue to play basketball. Then she plans to attend law school and work on human rights issues. But for now, she wants to leave Ellis stronger than she found it. “To me, that means having a bigger diversity of socioeconomic status, religious minorities, racial groups, LGBTQ. I’m hoping that when I come back for an Ellis reunion, there will be more diversity spread through the whole school.”
  • Putting her passion into play:

    She deepens her social justice activism through Ellis’ Student Diversity League, Black Student Union, and Culture Jam, a conference she and other students organize to address topics from code-switching to cultural appropriation. She’s even presented workshops herself: “On the first rotation, I was super jittery and kind of anxious that I might say something that was too controversial. But then as I got more comfortable, it got easier to come out of my shell and not be afraid that someone might challenge my opinion.”
  • Surrounded by role models:

    Natalie says that at Ellis, almost everyone in a position of power—from administrators to student leaders—is a woman. “That’s what I grew up seeing, and it made me more confident in my own voice. Seeing other powerful women being able to use it as well as they do pushes me to use my voice more.”

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