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Inspired to Educate
Shaylah Ellis '19
Shaylah Ellis

Shaylah Ellis ‘19, an English graduate, lives by Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Shaylah Ellis knew from an early age that she wanted to become an English teacher. Her mother, Robyn, taught her to love language and stories and encouraged her to read regularly. Shaylah developed a passion for books. In grade school, when students were asked to bring their favorite book to class she couldn’t pick just one and brought a heavy book bag full instead.

Ellis’s teachers also encouraged her passion for reading. She was continually inspired by the great teachers she came across through the years. Their powerful and positive influence on her and her peers showed her that if she wanted to make a real difference in the world she should become a teacher.

When deciding on a college to attend HNU seemed like an obvious choice. Ellis knew she wanted to stay in Oakland— the city she grew up in and loves—and that she wanted to be on a smaller campus with plenty of opportunities to get involved and lead.

Ellis’ first year at HNU coincided with another major life event: she met her biological father for the first time. Unfortunately, their time together was cut short when he passed away in 2018. This loss further motivated Ellis to make a positive impact in the world and do something great for her community.

While attending Holy Names Ellis was involved in a staggering amount of groups and clubs on campus. She was the student body president of the Associated Students of Holy Names University, a peer mentor, resident assistant, sophomore class president, junior class president, community outreach coordinator and president of the Black Student Union, and vice-president of the Gay-Straight Alliance Club called PROUD. She also created a new club to help the homeless community in Oakland.

“By staying active in the HNU community and meeting new people I was always teaching and learning. I believe that everyone is simultaneously a teacher and a student.” Ellis said.

Shaylah Ellis is currently inspiring the next generation as a teacher at her alma mater, Skyline High School.