STEMLY teaches kids that technology is theirs for the taking

Devon Rollins is a cybersecurity expert with two computer science degrees and a master’s from Carnegie Mellon under his belt.

But his interest in technology was not originally stoked by any type of formal education. And now he’s trying to pass that on, with STEMLY.

Growing up in Suffolk, Va., “a tech desert,” by his reckoning, he was awed by computers very early on.

“I was pretty enamored by the fact that my mother could type faster than I could read,” he said. “I was transfixed [by] the representation of input and output.”

He spent lots of time fiddling with the family computer. He collected AOL CDs to get more internet minutes, combed through the health files for troubleshooting, and was an early adopter of AIM.

“Education for me was never confined into a classroom,” Rollins said.

Eventually, he made his way into the field of cybersecurity, and currently works as a cyber-economics consultant at Ernst & Young.

His brother Duane Rollins, studied engineering and became a UX designer who once taught evening courses at General Assembly.

With their friend Phillip Stephen, they form the Holy Trinity of the tech industry.

“Phil’s a dev ops engineer, so he’s a builder,” said Rollins. “I’m in cybersecurity, so I’m a breaker.” And his brother Duane — he’s the designer.

“We thought about our own individual places that we occupy in STEM,” said Devon — and how others could “build their own pathway to prosperity.”

That’s where STEMLY comes in.

Launched last December, the nonprofit seeks to unite the groups working to help students in the District see “the world through a STEM lens.”

Rollins wants STEMLY to become a “belly button for people who create STEM-related content” targeted at under-served students.

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