September 7, 2017
This article originally appeared on HIV Equal.
As I sit on the plane headed to Washington, D.C. I can’t help but to reflect on where I started and how far I have come in my activism and in this field of HIV. Two years ago, today, I was headed to my very first conference on HIV/AIDS, the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). And now I’m headed back to participate in this conference. Each year has had a special purpose in my life and each year has made me grow as a person and as an activist in more ways than one.
In 2015, at the age of 20, I attended USCA for the first time as an NMAC youth scholar, and the experience was amazing. I realized the need for younger millennials in this field, and it sparked an even bigger interest for me to want to know more and do more, so that I may better engage and impact my community in a positive way. At this conference, I had no clue that I would be called on in the middle of a presentation to speak and share my experience working on a social media campaign with Greater Than AIDS (SpeakOut HIV). However, I was. And in that moment I was reassured that I had a gift, a natural persona that can command a room and speak in front of strangers and have them listen and value my perspective and ideas. It was also after this conference that I realized how much of an impact that youth can and will make in this field. So, I decided that I would do more and encourage my peers to do more in their communities.