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New Orleans High School Student Naya Ellis Designed A Stroke-Detecting Watch


At just age 14, a New Orleans, LA, native has created an innovation for the medical field.

When Naya Ellis was 7 years old, she supported her mother who was battling breast cancer, The74 reports. Merging her passion for helping others and for science, she went on to design WingItt, a stroke-detecting watch for adults.

The outlet details that WingItt works to detect nerve impulses and heartbeats to identify strokes apart from the physically visible signs. After learning that the medical condition greatly affects people who are 55 and over, Ellis created the device with that age group in mind. What’s more, she aims for WingItt to be more on the affordable end in comparison to other smartwatches currently on the market.

“I want to do something I’m interested in, that will also change the world,” Ellis said.

The John F. Kennedy High School student’s inspiration for the invention came while attending STEM NOLA’s STEM Saturday. In a last-minute decision, she switched from creating a watch for detecting seizures to one focusing on strokes. As part of STEM NOLA, Ellis also signed up for an eight-week fellowship. According to the nonprofit’s website, its free fellowship was created for low-income students of color in New Orleans who want to pursue STEM careers. Additionally, STEM NOLA provides high school youth with access to professional mentorships, networking, and more. 

Thanks to the support and guidance of STEM NOLA, Ellis became a National STEM Challenge champion. As one of 126 champions, she beat out more than 2,500 applicants nationwide.

In April 2024, she will showcase WingItt at the first-ever National STEM Festival, which will be hosted by the U.S. Department of Education and EXPLR in Washington, D.C. The participating students will additionally receive two months of coding training and four months of class sessions with STEM experts. 

“The Biden-Harris administration is thrilled to have the U.S. Department of Education team up with EXPLR to host the first-ever National STEM Festival,” said Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education, per the festival’s website. “To Raise the Bar in education, we must provide all students with rich and engaging STEM learning experiences that unleash their love of learning and problem-solving skills. This event is an exciting opportunity to celebrate our future scientists, creators, and innovators, and to help more students recognize that they, too, belong in STEM.” 

Along with moving forward with WingItt, Ellis aims to pursue a career in medicine and become an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) once she graduates from high school.

“I love the fact that you’re bringing new life into the world, that’s the coolest thing ever to me,” Ellis shared with The74. “I’m a woman helping women. It can’t get any better than that!”

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