When I first started peer educating I was shy and unsure of myself, but now, as many will tell you, I have blossomed into a person who stands up for what she believes, isn’t shy to speak, and has developed a passion to make change rather than sit back and wait for change to happen
Ryan is a member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council.
I grew up in a predominantly black community where it seemed children were always getting into trouble, skipping school, gambling on the corner, smoking, drinking, and talking about sex. I’ve often asked myself, "What is wrong with this picture?" Why are black men always getting arrested, why are teen mothers getting younger and younger, and with all the information available nowadays why is HIV/AIDS so rampant among my people?
Of all the social ills in my community HIV/AIDS is the one that has personally impacted my life the most. When I was seven years old my uncle died of AIDS. I have three other relatives who are living with HIV. Everyday I hear about the growing number of those infected. In 2007, South Florida was number one for the highest HIV/AIDS cases, and now in 2010 South Florida is number one again. Being a resident of South, this motivated me to join a local group called MotherWit, a program for young women of color to act as peer educators to not only their peers, but their community as well. I later became President and dedicated myself to educating people about how to protect themselves, stay healthy and free of HIV/AIDS and various STIs.
As a result of being involved with MotherWit, I also joined the Young Women of Color Leadership Council (YWOCLC) which I have been a part for 3 years now. Along my journey, I have learned so much, and am still learning. I’ve learned more by educating than any student can learn in school. The ideas, experiences, discussions, and lifestyles of the people I educate has allowed me to grow into the person I knew I could be─ a person of purpose, dedication, motivation, and inspiration. When I first started peer educating I was shy and unsure of myself, but now, as many will tell you, I have blossomed into a person who stands up for what she believes, isn’t shy to speak, and has developed a passion to make change rather than sit back and wait for change to happen. And I give that to my community, in hopes that I can be that inspiration to another girl or boy to take a stand and make their mark, too.
Aside from my community work, I am a sophomore at the University of Miami, where I am double majoring in Biology and Psychology on a Pre-med track. I plan on pursuing a Masters in Public Health, and going to Medical School to be a physician. Most of all, I enjoying living life and discovering what this world has to offer, to take it and make it my own.