Interview: Jerrell King
LACM: What is your name?
J.K.: My name is Jerrell King.
LACM: And how old are you?
J.K.: 16 years old.
LACM: What grade are you in?
J.K.: I'm a high school senior at Friendship Tech Prep Academy.
LACM: What subjects do you like most in school?
J.K.: Right now I would say that math is my favorite subject. But my favorite class would be my engineering class, engineering design and development. Because we pretty much have free range to kind of do projects that we actually want to do. It just gives us opportunity just to use all the skills that we learned in previous classes and just kind of have free range with that.
LACM: With your study of engineering, what are your plans for the future?
J.K.: So right now I'm looking to attend either Stanford University or Yale University and study computer engineering or computer science and I'm looking to get at least a master's degree in that field. Once I get some experience, then I'm looking to kind of merge it with business to run my own tech company.
LACM: So, you know about Silicon Valley?
J.K.: Yes. So, over the summer I got the opportunity to go visit Apple through their
engineering technology camp. So I was pretty much right in the heart of Silicon Valley pretty much just at Apple’s headquarters and just being able to be in that area, just seeing how people shake and move down there. It's been really eye-opening. So that's something that I definitely want to be a part of and the future.
LACM: With Silicon Valley, the stats for African Americans in the tech field and IT are very scarce. So how did you plan on changing that?
J.K.: The way I kind of envision changing it is that I just got to get my foot in the door first, and then once I do open the door, that's when I can start bringing in others with me. It's definitely possible for other African American youth to make it to these heights. They just need to see that somebody that comes from the same background or the same childhood or anything like that, that if they're able to do this just by putting in the effort and the work, that that opens up the doors to them as well. So that's kind of why I do what I do now, just to pretty much open up doors for myself as well as others around me.
LACM: I had a question about what advice you would give young people your age, but … um, yeah. So what awards have you won?
J.K.: So there's quite a few. Last year, I was the Google science fair winner for all of Washington, DC, and I've won other local competitions with my project the InSta Laptop 2.0. I got a special award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. That was the year before last, I believe. And I got the opportunity for Apple over the summer, and just recently I actually just found out yesterday when I checked my email, I was nominated for the award for the Top Charter School Scholar in the whole DC area. And actually, today I'm being honored at the Men Impact Change Awards Gala, for being their special honoree for the work that I've done in the community with my Insta Laptop project.
LACM: So with all your accomplishments, what do you like to do for fun?
J.K.: Usually just kind of hang out with friends. That may be playing video games. Or just really just trying to find time to better myself and work on my craft. I'm also a musician as well. So I'm usually kind of just practicing on my music. And I'm in the marching band. So just usually just kind of doing things that I enjoy doing. So if that’s working with technology and music or anything else or just trying to find ways to look for other opportunities that I’m able to reach.
LACM: What instrument do you play in the marching band?
J.K.: I am a lead trombonist in the marching Titans band. We perform at numerous events. We do the Martin Luther King parade every year even though we didn't do it last year because it was freezing below zero. We do the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and we perform at Georgetown basketball and football games. We also do a lot of local community events and parades and things. I have a lot of fun with it. I've been doing it for about three and a half years now. Yeah, this year probably makes it four. It’s been a ride, but I had a lot of fun with it. And all my colleagues did too.
LACM: So you said musician. Besides trombone, what else, as far as your music is concerned, what do you want to do with that?
J.K.: So, you know how I'm interested in Technology and on the side I can also merge that with music, like music production. So over the summer, for the Apple program, I got an iPad and it came with Garage Band. So usually I'm doing that, you know, mixing together beats and sounds, just kind of making your own tracks and having fun with it. So now I've been playing around with that a lot lately, kind of enjoying that. Something that can I use kind of like a side hustle as I'm doing other things in the tech field. I just kind of find it really fun to just make stuff, you know and just mix together different sounds, create something of my own. That's kind of the direction I'm looking towards.
LACM: Last, what would you like the people to know about Jerrell King over all?
J.K.: Pretty much that I'm just always willing to open up doors for other youth besides myself. One key example I can think of is that one of my close friends, Jaden Miller, I’ve known him ever since like fifth or fourth grade and we've been growing up and stuff together. But, he was never one to really compete like, you know, in science fairs or anything like that, but he was always a chill guy. So last year, he and his cousin Jamar Miller, they decided to participate in the DC STEM fair, which I did participate in previous years. So I got the opportunity to kind of, you know, mentor them and just guide them through the process, but because they were able to put in the work and the effort, they actually ended up winning the STEM for all of Washington DC. And then they went on to compete in Phoenix Arizona for the Intel's science fair. So, it's just really heartwarming to see that the work that I do within the school, within the community, now people are actually picking up off that. Just trying to do something for themselves. And that’s just why I stick to the grind as I do right now, I'm just showing others that they can do things that suit them. They just got to put in that effort, you know, put in the dedication. Doors will open up for them and I'm just glad to see that taking root with them at home, school, and in the community.