Black alumni recall stories of success, lasting impact of community

Photos from the 2001-2004 Echo yearbooks show black alumni participating in school activities. School portraits depict Miranda McElrath-Conrad and Deja Knuckles. Conrad said, “I feel that being a WGHS graduate taught me how to face challenges head-on.”   Photos from the Echo yearbook

Emily Stisser
Entertainment Columnist

Lindsey Bennett
Print Editor

In honor of Black History Month, the social studies department held a friendly door-decoration competition, complete with the celebration of black activists, athletes, artists, scientists and alumni. Photo by Lindsey Bennett

During the month of February, students walked the halls surrounded by decades of black history and culture.

In honor of Black History Month, the social studies department held a friendly door-decorating competition, complete with the celebration of black activists, athletes, artists, scientists and alumni.

Dana Miller, Chelsea Center advisor and WGHS alum, took to her door to showcase several more recent black successful alumni, emphasizing the importance of sharing their stories.

Deja Knuckles, class of 2003, currently works in Finance and Compliance for the U.S. Federal Government, residing in Atlanta, GA.

Knuckles directly enforces compliance for the banking system and performs financial analysis on quantitative statistics.

Education wise, she attended college at Lincoln University of Missouri, receiving a BS in Marketing in 2007, further receiving a masters in business administration with an emphasis in Management in 2008. Following, in 2013, Knuckles received a masters of science in finance degree from Webster University.

Throughout her time at WGHS, Knuckles was extremely involved in several leadership roles, while continuing to advocate for diversity.

From 2002 to 2003, she served as the vice-president of Student Awareness for Action (SAA). During her junior and senior year, Knuckles was an active participant in DECA, competing at the local and state levels.

When asked to recall the impact WGHS has made in her life and in her peers, Knuckles said, “Diversity and mentorship.”

“WGHS was a very diverse school in the St. Louis area, which allowed me to build relationships with people from all backgrounds. We were all stationed at the same place during school hours, but I later learned that everyone’s lifestyle was impacting their drive, passion or work ethic throughout the day.”

In high school, Knuckles was designated as a mentee to a teacher and a counselor within the WGHS district. Knuckles said, “Their strong influence reminded me that education was important and to always give back and mentor others. They provided me with scholarships for college and guidance on being a black woman in society.”

Knuckles said, “Although my closest friends are from college, I am blessed to be friends with my high school crew. In fact, my best friend attended WGHS with me and is a great friend of counselor Dana Miller. We talk daily and still share the same joy and friendship from the last 25 years,” Knuckles shared.

“The Webster Groves community is one big family and we all share the same unconditional love for the community. I resided within the Webster Groves community, so I was able to appreciate being a resident. One thing I value is our love for sports and the support we give to the Statesmen,” Knuckles said.

Miranda McElrath-Conrad, class of 2004, was born and raised in the Webster Groves community.

In fact, her great grandparents, William and Irma Calvin, as mid-1930s graduates of Douglass High School, began her family’s lasting legacy in Webster Groves. Conrad’s grandmother, the daughter of William and Irma, first attended Douglass prior to integration. Following integration, she attended WGHS.

In Conrad’s words, “Needless to say, I am clearly a Webster Groves legacy.”

During Conrad’s time at WGHS, she was in band, played soccer and ran track. Her senior year, Conrad and her sprint relay team competed in the State Championship Meet on Graduation Day.

Following high school, Conrad attended college at Tennessee State University, located in Nashville, TN. Conrad shared that Tennessee State University is a Historically Black College University (HBCU).

After her time at Tennessee State University, Conrad obtained her Masters from Florida International University in Miami, FL.

Regarding her current involvement in the community, Conrad said, “Throughout the years I’ve stayed in contact with the friends that I grew-up with and also made during my time in the Webster Groves School District.”

Conrad currently works as a special agent for the U.S. Government, working in the Midwest region.

On WGHS’ impact on her values and self, Conrad said, “I feel that being a WGHS graduate taught me how to accept challenges head on. During my high school years, I remember being challenged, and teachers would require us (students) to fight through and figure it out, not just to immediately ask for help or give up, but to use all relevant resources available. I feel that WGHS equipped me with the tools to succeed in college and in my career.”

Reminiscing on her hometown, Conrad said, “The small town feel in a big city sums up Webster. I love being able to walk into the grocery store or the local gym, running into someone that knows me or my family members. During my job, I’ve ran into people that are from Webster or went to WGHS and we were able to immediately connect. One day, I hope my career takes me back to the St. Louis area, because I would purchase a home in the Webster area and I would love for my kids to continue the Webster Groves School District legacy.”

 

Emily Stisser – Entertainment Columnist 

This will be Emily Stisser’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.

 

Lindsey Bennett – Print Editor

This is print editor Lindsey Bennett’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.

 


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