By now we’ve all heard the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the brilliant 14-year-old who brought his homemade digital clock to school to show his science teacher, only to wind up arrested.
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that the scientific creativity of a person of color has been mistaken for a threat. In fact, Kiera Wilmot, a 19-year-old model and mechanical engineering major at Florida Polytechnic University, is well-acquainted with the feeling.
Wilmot was arrested in April 2013 at Bartow High School in Polk County, Fla., after her own science experiment went wrong. The then-16-year-old had mixed toilet-bowl cleaner and tinfoil in a water bottle as part of the project. When she demonstrated to her peers what was supposed to happen, there was a "pop" from the bottle and the cap flew off, followed by some billowing smoke.
"No rights read to me; [I was] taken in a police car from school to a juvenile assessment center," Wilmot told WTSP.
Wilmot was disheartened to learn that someone else had to go through what she experienced. "I was thinking, how could this happen again?" the 19-year-old told the news station.
But still, she was amazed at the outpouring of support that Ahmed received in response to the situation. "I think what they did was amazing. How he had all the support behind him, and what took my charges to be dropped within a month took him only a week," she added.
The older teen, according to the news site, had some advice for Ahmed, encouraging him, as many others have, to keep building and keep creating. "I'd tell him he has to keep moving forward and not let the haters get to him," Wilmot said.
Read more at WTSP.