Growing up in Compton, California, my whole life, I definitely had a unique story.
My father’s origins are Kenyan, or he comes from Kenya, from Nakuru, Kenya.
And he met my mother in the late eighties in Compton, California, of course.
So my origins come from the city, particularly rich in farms growing up and seeing poverty, but also being connected with, like my neighbors who come from El Salvador, who come from Mexico, and trying to bridge the gap between the Black and Brown communities that exist.
Growing up also have the weird dichotomy of going to school in Compton or living in Compton and going to school elementary schools in Culver City and seeing, well, why am I the only black kid in so many of the classes, but then I’m only surrounded by being with my friends from church or from my community and my Latino friends.
So that was like my first time being exposed and also having a history and legacy in Compton.
My grandfather was the former city councilman of, I believe, the third or fourth District.
Fred Cressel, the honorable Fred Cressel and to be able to be connected with the community, helping him with his reelections and his elections in the late nineties, and also being affiliated with a church right around the corner from here called Greater Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Compton, where my uncle serves as a pastor.
Calvin Cressel, my mother, she also I have a unique story.
My mother was my principal from middle school and high school.
So driving, taking my commutes from Compton to Adams and Arlington.
And then our school moved to Sherman Oaks and back to Adams and Arlington.
Definitely unique in like how I mentioned coming from Compton, being exposed as having diversity, to be able to travel to many different places at such a young age, but also being aware of my surroundings and other people’s perceptions of where I come from, my city.
Most people think Compton; they recognize NWA, the gangs, Bloods and Crips, Pirus, Kendrick Lamar, Y.G.of course, Venus and Serena Williams and their father and their mother and their siblings.
But attending UCSD, the University of California, San Diego, all of that kind of got wiped away about my amazing city with the events that happened in winter quarter 2010 of the Compton Cookout.
And I was like, wow, I guess I kind of want to attend the school to kind of show people like greatness does come from Compton.
We’re not just people walking around acting a certain way or having this image portrayed in media and I was able to get heavily involved in the Black Student Union and the African Student Union with both representing both of my cultures, representing and serving as a resident assistant, serving as a student, being able to travel abroad and study jazz in Paris in 2014, and also serving as leadership having leadership opportunities.
As a co-chair of the African Studies Association, secretary of BSU, and with my five years at UCSD, although great things happen, I’ve also had many challenges being the only black girl in my science courses, being the only black girl who have to ask and answer to various microaggression questions from my peers and colleagues and even roommates, but also still making a difference, still making an impact of the students back at UCSD and definitely left my mark.
Coming back home to Compton, I applied for a master’s in public health courses and got accepted at Charles Drew University right around the corner from here in their master’s in public health program in 2016.
And my life kind of got changed after finally graduating.
Ten days before graduating, my mother passed from a heart attack, and that was very challenging.
But definitely being able to rely on my support system, my family, my best friends, my peers, even my faculty, my amazing faculty at Drew and my cohort.
Also helping raise my brother, my little brother at the time, and trying to help my father with his depression in my first time, even going to therapy.
And with that, life changes happened over the course.
Me and my brother, my family, my dad, we also made it through our first year of my mom passing.
My uncle also passed due to substance use and abuse.
And about three months before getting my degree, my master’s in public health, my father passed away due to a stroke.
So my life journey has been very interesting.
Also, getting a new car and representing the organization called St.
John’s Well Child and Family Center.
And to be able to conduct community outreach and engagement with youth in Compton at Dominguez High School, with colleagues living in off of the Slauson corridor.
And to be able to have tangible conversations with them allowed me to branch out in and kind of bet on myself.
I’m the type of person I call myself the plug in the community, but I didn’t take the opportunity I myself to pass on to different resources and took the opportunity to apply for the World Health Organization. WHO.
Yes, the WHO and they had a cohort of young leaders under the age of 35, and I actually applied with that cohort and kind of not only serve my city of Compton, Los Angeles, the second District, but also the U.S., and I was selected one out of 21 with my amazing colleagues from Nigeria, from Pakistan, from Chile, from Australia, the UK.
And all of us attended this conference in Kazakhstan, Astana, Kazakhstan.
So not only that, we were able right before the pandemic in 2019 to attend the World Health Assembly and to be able to be surrounded by ambassadors and very distinguished officials.
And I kind of explain to people, when I went to Geneva, Switzerland, like this is like the Olympics of health, you know, and I’m very proud from where I come from, I’m very proud to be a resident in this district.
I’m very proud to be a resident, born and raised in Compton, California.
And I always tell people, I’m from Compton to the world, to the next destination in my position, I’m actually going to be able to go to Toronto, Canada and gain more leadership and experience in Toronto serving the organization I’m working for Rocket Doctor and taking all that I’m learning back into my home, into my community, into the second District to be able to provide and connect medical and Medicare residents to a more telehealth, efficient system.
So it’s an honor and a privilege. That’s my story.