PREPARE/ENRICH Certified Facilitator
Licensed Professional Counselor: Georgia LPC009958
National Certified Counselor (NCC)
I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, but I was raised in southern California. Although I lived 30 miles outside of the nucleus of gang violence, the ripple effect of Los Angeles street gangs were often felt in my neighborhood. By the time high school started the patterns for social interactions was solidified. Lines were drawn between Crips, Bloods, Mexicans, athletes, and nerds. Very few people took the route I did and tried to maintain a healthy balance by befriending people from all of these groups.
Needless to say, high school was a bit hectic and this time in life was only made more complicated by my parent’s divorce. By the time senior year came around, inner city life had taken a toll on myself and my peers. A friend of mine was killed by being thrown in front of a train, at the hands of a rival gang. Another friend was handed two life sentences for his participation in a drive by shooting. Several female friends had become single mothers. In the midst of this, I kept my head down and determined that education would be my escape route.
I began my educational journey at the University of California, Berkeley. It was there and in the Bay Area, in general, that I found my sense of self and came into my own. I found a home on college radio within the news department. I was able to witness both the highs and lows of “peaceful” political unrest. I was able to get actively involved in the lives of countless youth and young adults through mentoring and other extra curricular activities. It was the Bay that taught me the values of justice, equality, and speaking up for the voiceless. Unfortunately, it was also in the Bay that I experienced many personal tragedies and great loss. In one year alone, I buried five friends that had been murdered, four of which had been gunned down. This time in life left me very broken and empty, but I vowed to do something about the problems surrounding my community.
In my search for being a part of the change needed in my community, I stumbled upon the field of counseling. It was while working at a residential treatment facility in Oakland, CA, that I realized the need for quality therapeutic services for youth and families of color. While working there, I did not encounter a therapist who came from the same areas or who shared similar experiences as the children living at the facility. My shared experiences (divorced parents, community violence, living in a drug and alcohol entrenched neighborhood) with the kids there allowed for a connection that served me well in building rapport. However, this connection alone was not enough to serve their mental health needs. After seeking educational advice from several therapists, I made the decision to become formally trained and sought to earn a Master’s in counseling.
Along the journey to obtaining my degree, the passion to serve and to heal was further solidified. As a trained professional, my goal is to help heal broken families and individuals, to show love to those whom society has cast out, and to use my education and life experience to better the lives of others. My experiences are many, my passion is helping, and I will fulfill my life’s purpose through my trade, COUNSELING!