COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Twin sisters, Ani and Malaya Mitchell are hoping to make an impact at Texas A&M as they finish their freshmen year.
The sisters are planning to change the stigma associated with science, technology, engineering, and math.
“A lot of people ask us how long we’ve been involved with STEM and we say since the beginning,” said Ani Mitchell, freshman at Texas A&M University. “Ever since that first STEM Saturday that became the new thing we did all the time together.”
Malaya Mitchell said she remembers the first time she and her sister were introduced to robots.
“The robot that we played was at the first STEM fest,” says Malaya Mitchell. “We played with it so long. We played with it for the whole four hours. We were like we need to bring it home.”
Malaya says receiving an artificial human body is where it all started.
“It has like removable organs, removable bones, removable muscles, and I was hooked after that,” said Malaya Mitchell. “I love taking them out, putting them back in and each organ came with a card that explained what each organ did on a level that I could understand. I still have it till this day because it’s my favorite toy.”
Dr. Calvin Mackie is Ani and Malaya’s mentor from back home in Louisiana.
He is the founder of STEM Nola, a nonprofit organization in New Orleans helping surrounding communities learn about stem.
He recalls the first time meeting the twin sisters on the first stem Saturday.
“I met these two beautiful twins eight-year-olds who was just magnetic,” says Dr. Calvin Mackie, Founder of STEM NOLA. “They were running down the gym and they were building robots and doing all these amazing things. Over the next nine years, almost every STEM Saturday they always showed up and as I like to say, showed out.”
The twin sisters are determined to make a footprint in a world where they have experienced firsthand challenges being African American women in STEM.
Malaya plans to become a surgeon, and ani has dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer.
“Originally, I started in environmental you know save the world against climate change,” says Ani Mitchell. “Slowly, I’ve gained some interest in aerospace, maybe I’ll become an astronaut one day. I don’t really know if that’s in the cards for me. I honestly really have interest in working on rocket ships.”
While Aggieland is now home to the twins, they temporarily lived in the Bryan-College Station area around 18 months old when their family was displaced from Hurricane Katrina.
The Mitchell twins said they owe a huge portion of their success to Dr. Mackie for his mentorship over the past decade.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Ani and Malaya are prepared to conquer Texas A&M and conquer the world and we have thousands of other kids that we’re training every day, providing them with the tools and direction to do the same thing,” says Dr. Mackie.
The twin sisters are wrapping up their first year here at Texas A&M, they hope to have some robots wrapped under the tree this year.