On behalf of NMAC and our funders – ViiV Healthcare and collaborative partner Advocates for Youth – we are pleased to announce the 2019 Youth Initiative Scholars! This program empowers young leaders in the HIV community with leadership skills and improves HIV and public health literacy to bring back and apply within their communities and organizations.
The 2019 Youth Initiative, now in its ninth year, brings together the next generation of leaders ages 18–25 (known as Youth Scholars) to participate in a seven-month, comprehensive program to help end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. As part of this program, Youth Scholars will gain opportunities to develop leadership, increase their knowledge, and build confidence while integrating key youth-specific messaging in local, state and national HIV/AIDS programs and advocacy agendas.
The Youth Scholars will also attend the U.S. Conference on AIDS (#2019USCA), held September 5-8 in Washington, DC. During the conference, Youth Scholars will participate in sessions meant to advance their leadership skills, build confidence, and learn new ways to prioritize youth within HIV/AIDS programs and policies in their communities.
Congratulations to the scholars for their acceptance into the 2019 Youth Initiative Program!
Brianna R. E. Benjamin is a proud Caribbean native, hailing from the island of Dominica. She is also a recent graduate from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. At the University of Virginia, she majored in Biology. During her time at Uva, she became involved in organizations such as Global Greeters, Soca, the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, as well as Residence Life at Uva, amongst others. Through these organizations, she was able to impact the community and utilize her unique skills and talents to make a positive impact. Brianna is very excited to be a part of the 2019 Youth Initiative at NMAC and to use the knowledge gained to improve her community.
William Blakley is the Outreach Coordinator at Positive Connections in Topeka, Kansas. Prior to working for Positive Connections, he was a Certified Nurse Assistant at a hospital in Kansas City. While working at a hospital in Kansas City, William was also attending nursing school at a local community college. At the end of his first year in the program, William received his own HIV diagnosis in 2017. Since joining Positive Connections in January of 2019, William has been very active in the community. William has shared his journey about his HIV diagnosis and shared the stigma that he received in an effort to help combat the stigma that surrounds those living with HIV, specifically in the North East region of Kansas. William’s goal in the next few years is to return to nursing school and finish his bachelor’s degree before continuing and receiving a Nurse Practitioner degree and working in Infectious Disease, specializing in HIV care.
Miracle Bowles is southern lady living in South Carolina, I am a creator of art, through music, jazz and blues are my favorites. I also create through words of one’s soul, though spoken word. Don’t be put off by my youthfulness for the arts of the past, after-all, I have often been told that I was her before. I love positive things and positive thinkers. I believe in things that are true and just for us all. I want to be a NMAC’s Youth Scholar because, to be honest I am new to thinking of myself as an advocate for HIV. Where HIV is apart of my family story journey, and I have family members that work on HIV, mental health, substance abuse fields and have taught us to understand all of these diseases and to educate our friends on prevention and treatment of them all. As a young women in the arts, I am learning use my art to fight against HIV/AIDS and mental health in my community. I realize I can’t wait for someone else, it’s up me to help address the current view HIV and mental health among my peers. I am building a platform with the hope of shifting the stigma that surrounds HIV and mental health. It’s my plan to amplify the conversations of both of these very stigmatized diseases and other health disparities to throughout south.
Jovana Calvillo joins Youth Initiative as a mental health advocate and community residency counselor at Mclean hospital. She is a recent graduate from Williams College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and public health with interests in HIV, trauma, and chronic mental health issues. She is a member of AFY’s National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program. On campus, she was a member and a leader in a plethora of organizations such as the mental health committee, Williams Catholics, and the minority coalition. In addition to founding the first Queer Students of Color organization on campus, she was a member borders and migration working group. She is passionate about the rights of migrants, refugees and all those systematically marginalized by borders. Within her various roles, she worked on educating Queer Youth about HIV stigmatization, worked on transgender rights, and held a trans day of remembrance. Jovana is immensely excited to be a member of the 2019 NMAC and continue her advocacy for marginalized voices.
Nicholas L. Calvin is a native of Nashville, TN. Growing up in Nashville, Nicholas served on the Mayor’s Youth Council and was a member of several organizations including, but not limited to, East Nashville Magnet School’s Allies, SGA, FCA, and the National Honor Society. After graduating from East Nashville Magnet, Nicholas attended Howard University in Washington D.C. where he completed his freshman and sophomore years. While attending Howard, Nicholas worked in the U.S. House of Representatives for United States Congressman Jim Cooper, served as a co-chair for Howard University’s Women’s Week, and became a member of Howard University’s Society of Collegiate Black Men.
Once he returned to Nashville, Nicholas began working at Nashville CARES, an HIV/AIDS non-profit organization with a mission to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee. For over 3 years, Nicholas has impacted the lives of man by offering HIV testing, serving as a peer navigator, and granting them access to healthcare and personal care services.
In 2018 Nicholas hosted the first Mahogany Honors Empowerment Gala to honor those of color in the Middle Tennessee area who serve on the front lines in the fights against HIV/AIDS and positive LGBTQ+ progressions. The event is now on its second year and had over 100 guests to attend 2019’s gala with more than $1,500 in proceeds to benefit those in the community.
Nicholas hopes to run for public office to initiate further change.
His favorite quote is, “It’s when things seem worse, that you just don’t quit.”
From the poem, “Don’t Quit”.
Ryan Gamble is a 24 year old male who was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He graduated from The University of Alabama in August of 2017 with his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies. He decided to go back to school to start earning his Masters in Couples and Family Counseling at the University of Montevallo. After graduating from Undergraduate, Ryan started working at AIDS Alabama as a Near Peer Mentor to assist newly diagnosed adolescents, emerging adults, and individuals that have fallen out of care. He assists his clients with linkage to care, engage in community resources, job readiness, adherence, mentoring, housing, transportation, and anything to help promote client’s holistic well-being. Ryan has also started a youth support group for clients to have a safe space to discuss life challenges, anything retaining to HIV, and engage in the fun things that Birmingham has to offer and enjoy life.
Quintay Knight was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but currently resides in Miami, Florida. Quintay had to move out and grow up at the early age of sixteen. He took the bus and found his first job at Auntie Anne’s where he worked to keep a roof over his head. Finishing high school was a struggle while adulting. Due to hardships, he wasn’t able to finish high school but on April 27th of 2018 Quintay obtain his G.E.D from Sheridan Technical College. He says being apart of the Build A Brother Institute (BABI) really showed him the importance of reclaiming your time and education. In August of 2018, he attended Hollywood Institute of Beauty and Careers where he received his Full Specialist license March of 2019. Quintay says he’s not stopping there, his next goal is to go to college in August of 2019 and obtain his associates in communication, then his bachelors in communication. Quintay plans to use his communication degree to advocate for all those people who have a voice but just don’t know how to use it.
Michael-Lee Martinez will take part in the 2019 Youth Initiative Program. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at San Antonio where he received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. During his time at UTSA, he participated in numerous events with the University’s LGBTQ+ group where he was able to work towards advocacy, visibility and safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students. Being a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community has allowed him to develop a special passion towards both the community and the field of HIV/AIDS. With a striving passion for the community and the field of HIV/AIDS he was lead towards becoming a health intervention specialist at a local HIV/AIDS organization in San Antonio called BEAT AIDS. The mission of BEAT AIDS is to provide to those that are most affected by HIV/AIDS and to those that lack the resources to seek such services. He has now spent over a year with the organization where he participates in STD testing, mobile and street outreach, community events, and facilitating sexual health educational groups. Michael-Lee is thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to participate in NMAC’s 2019 Youth Initiative Program where he is eager to learn new tools and skills that will be useful in his work among the community.
Quintin Mayfield is 24 years old, HIV positive since birth. Quintin is an Actor, writer, Producer and Property Owner. Quintin is a Huge Fan of Whoopi Goldberg and a bigger fan of his Lord JC. Growing up was tough. Quintin was diagnosed with AIDS at 11 years old. Quintin’s T-Cell count was 14. Today, Quintin is undetectable. Quintin has a strong curiosity to know who else is born with HIV like himself. What can he do to help them grow and how will he continue to grow are questions Quintin asks himself often. In 2011, Quintin was President of the Keystone Club for teens at The Boys and Girls Club of Easton. Also received an award for Youth of the Year in 2012. In 2013, Quintin was the youngest member of Project Teach at Philadelphia Fight also where he received great care. The following year Quintin returned to a group that certified me to teach young adults about HIV and sexual health and Medications. For one semester Quintin was a student at Philadelphia Community College of Philadelphia where he was studying Business and Acting. Quintin has one-year experience with Clinical work at The Perelman Center for Advance Medicine Neuroscience department for Penn Medicine. Currently, Quintin attends classes 3 nights a week for Acting. Quintin really would like to make inspiring, moving impact for everyone through his craft.
Alejandro Muñoz is currently an undergraduate student in Chicago, IL, where he studies Creative Design. He is also a Research Assistant on the #keepingitLITE research study at Cook County Health. Whether at work or school, Alejandro has actively participated in promoting a more inclusive culture for LGBTQ+ employees and students. As a Research Assistant, Alejandro is responsible for the creative design of the study’s print and digital advertisements and overall marketing look and feel. Alejandro is also responsible for managing the study’s social media channels and uses them to post educational and entertaining content for our followers. Lastly, Alejandro manages our at-home rapid HIV test kit mailing system and provides remote HIV triage for reactive cases. Alejandro has previously attended Creating Change, USCA and Youth+Tech+Health, where he has promoted #keepingitLITE and engaged with other youth workers around the country. Alejandro is ecstatic to work at NMAC and help fight stigma and assist in Getting to Zero.
Seandre’ A. Napoleon graduated in the top ten of her graduating class, at Joseph S. Clark High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a youth ambassador for the Media Advocates for Prevention (MAP) at the Institute of Women & Ethic Studies, the program afforded Seandre’ the opportunity to engage, empower, and educate her peers around issues of sexual health. For the past three years, Seandre’ has dedicated her time to volunteer at the Essence Festival HIV testing booth, and for local community-based organizations that focus on HIV prevention in New Orleans. Additionally, she been actively engaged in focusing her interest on amplifying her voice against domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual abuse. Drawing from the medical mistreatment that her aunt received, while battling an AIDS diagnosis, Seandre’ enrolled at Delgado Community College with the hopes of pursuing a degree in the field of nursing. Seandre’ has a longstanding interest in focusing on women’s health, whose healthcare needs are often marginalized by lack of resources and quality care. A vibrant NOLA girl, mother, and Hip-Hop Dancer, she has shifted her role into educating young girls about teenage pregnancy, through mentorship. Seandre’ is often regarded as a humble flower, and lives by her mother’s quote. “Love is like a beautiful painting. It makes you feel warm, and gentle. It stirs the soul, and always welcomes the viewers.” Just like that quote, Seandre’ lives her life in a state of offering warmth, and an open arm of love for individuals in need. Seandre’ is excited to join NMAC Youth Ambassador Program.
Tiffany Newsome is the CEO and founder of “Blossoming In Red Inc.”. A certified phlebotomist; public speaker; direct support professional; community health professional; and patient care assistant. She is also pursuing her degree in Business of Administration. Tiffany is an advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS. She is here to bring her community the knowledge that it’s lacking. Also, to significantly expand access to women and men who are in need of therapy, or who wants to know more about their rights. Furthermore, to expand the understanding of the structure of the government and how federal policy is developed, implemented, and funded. Lastly, to build and maintain relationships with policy makers and stakeholders who have influenced over the advocacy process.
Jacundo Ramos joins NMAC as a youth scholar. Jacundo is a current Biology student at The University of Texas at San Antonio on the Pre-Med route. Jacundo was diagnosed with HIV early February 2017 and has since hit the ground running in advocacy work. Jacundo is currently President of Health Justice Youth Council, a member of End Stigma End HIV Alliance (ESEHA), and started his own support group for individuals on campus living with HIV which turned into Jacundo now working on starting his own non-profit which focuses on the mental health aspects of people living with HIV. Within Jacundo’s roles in these organizations he has been able to uplift and inspire many youth to become active in the LGBTQ+ community and inform and educate themselves on HIV. Even though it comes with hardships Jacundo can proudly say HIV has been a blessing in my life. Jacundo is honored and thankful to be a partner in the fight to end HIV/AIDS and hopes to inspire many throughout his journey.
Elise Rivera represents the aloha state of Hawai’i. She is a 24-year-old, Puerto Rican – Chinese, living on the island of Oahu. She graduated from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa with a BS in Biology and certificate in Tropical Medicine. Her passion for medicine and patient care began as an undergraduate, while working as a medical scribe in the Emergency Department. As a volunteer at free mobile clinics, she learned the importance of patient engagement, outreach and evidence-based interventions. Now as the clinical coordinator and medical assistant at the Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center, the oldest and largest AIDS Service Organization in the state of Hawaii, she works with those disproportionately affected by social determinants of health. She is eager to be a voice in NMAC’s 2019 Youth Initiative and strives to collaboratively foster support in the community to eliminate the structural barriers that affect those living with HIV and their communities. Thank you for offering this opportunity to another young leader from Hawaii. We are always grateful to be included in NMACs Leadership Pipeline.
Sabrina Sloan is an undergraduate student at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. She majors in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. She is also studying International Relations as her minor. Sabrina shows her advocacy online as the Social Media Coordinator for a community-based organization called Positively U, Incorporated. She is learning how to become a better advocate online and offline. Sabrina Sloan participates in student-led organizations to reinforce her pursuit of making a change such as Sexual Health Alliance Revolutionizing Positivity, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund at FIU, Public Relations Student Society of America and a few more. In participating in these organizations, this has helped her to be socially conscious at a global level for her future career endeavors. Sabrina Sloan is ready to gain more knowledge from the USCA conference to find innovative techniques to help bring more HIV/AIDS awareness to neighborhoods around her.
Devyn Scott graduated from Rossview high school in 2014. After graduation Devyn attended Volunteer State to pursue Emergency Medicine where he developed a passion for HIV prevention and advocacy. He currently has plans to go back to college and continue his education so that he can be better equipped to help his community. Devyn has also served in the United States Navy for a full 4-year term as an aviation aircraft weapons specialist. In his spare time, Devyn loves to dance, rap, and read about science which lead to his passion to meet new people.
Lia Tewelde joins us as a HIV tester and counselor from Brother United Incorporated. She is a recent college graduate from Indiana University, Bloomington. At Indiana University, she earned a degree in Community Health with a minor in Global Health Promotion. During her undergraduate years, she was involved in many extracurriculars such as the Black Student Union, African Student Association, Union Board- Campus Unity and volunteered as a Peer Health and Wellness Educator on campus.
Lia is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Youth Initiative and looks forward to collaboration and professional development in order to better serve her community in Indianapolis.
Reyan De Verteuil is currently a Junior International Affairs Major, Spanish minor at Howard University, Washington, D.C. She was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago and came to the United States to pursue her tertiary education. Reyan decided years ago that she wanted to pursue her bachelor’s and graduate degrees in the United States because she has always been intent on experiencing new things, cultures and people and broadening her scope of the world. This decision has proven to be fruitful as during her mere two years at University she has been exposed to a plethora of amazing opportunities. Since beginning her matriculation at Howard University, she has been able to complete a semester abroad studying International Relations in Barcelona, Reyan had the pleasure of representing her school at the Model United Nations Conference in Washington, DC, and provided community service at various organizations. With her degree in international affairs, she intends to pursue a career in either law or foreign services- or hopefully find a career that blends both.
Darnell Wallace is 21 years old, born in Detroit MI, where he currently lives. Darnell was born with drugs in his system and moved into foster care. Growing up for him was difficult. Darnell graduated high school and attended Gerald R Ford Job Corps Center where he received his C.N.A. certification. During this time, he was diagnosed with HIV. After Darnell’s diagnosis, he joined the Southeastern Michigan HIV/Aids Council where he helped plan Southeastern Michigan’s Ryan White budget. Darnell also would assist with pride events such as Motors City’s Pride and Hotter Than July pride spreading awareness. Darnell believes that with great minds working together, if given the proper resources and opportunity, we can end the HIV virus. Being a young voice for HIV awareness helps his own journey to have the courage to stand up and speak about experiences someone else may experience.
Natalie Wallenfang is a born and raised Las Vegas native. Natalie is a current Master of Social Work student at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology. Natalie’s background is in substance abuse counseling to women and working with their children to adjust to a new lifestyle. Natalie currently works as a Family Development Specialist at a non- profit Therapeutic Foster Care agency in Las Vegas. She also works closely with the Southern Nevada Health District and Clark County’s juvenile detention center to teach HIV and teen pregnancy prevention programs to incarcerated youth twice a week. Bringing awareness to important topics like HIV and safe sex to at risk and underprivileged youth is something Natalie has been passionate about since graduating high school. Natalie is thrilled to begin the journey with NMAC in this Youth Initiative in helping bring attention to HIV/ AIDS
Kendrick Washington is a recent graduate from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. During his studies at Indiana University Bloomington, he majored in community Health. During his time at Indiana University Kendrick was involved in many organizations such as being a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., College Mentors for Kids, EMT program, and etc. With being an active college student, he was able to leave a legacy on my campus, by being there for the community as a whole. Kendrick also spent time volunteering for Saving Orphans Through Healthcare and Outreach, Timmy Global Health, and Peace Learning Center of Indianapolis. Throughout his volunteer experience he has been able to travel to Swaziland, Africa to gain international experience on HIV/STI education and is very excited to participate in the NMAC Youth Initiative this September at the 2019 USCA.
Michelle Young is a 22 year old activist from Indianapolis, IN, who fights and speaks for the rights of transgender women, especially trans women of color. She went through extensive training to become a certified HIV tester which later emerged her in the HIV field, testing clients and speaking at events educating people on HIV and HIV prevention. She has spoken at colleges and high schools on LGBT issues and matters. She hopes to inspire and change the way people view trans people by being a positive light, intelligent, empowered trans woman showcasing that LGBT individuals deserve a spot at the table just like everyone else.