Hello, Renrenspeakers! Happy first week of melanin month! I hope yall are as hype as I am to begin the Black is Beautiful mini blog series – health care edition! The first person starting us off for the series is my sis, VICKY! I am going to brag a bit about her before we get into her interview.
I met Vicky in 2015 when I was a little baby freshman at UC San Diego. She was a senior in college, and we were involved in multiple Black organizations such as The Black Student Union and the African Student Association. I always admired her joy, her friendliness, and her ability to make everyone feel included and heard. She would check in with me and ask how I was doing and how she could support me during a rough transition to the university. She went on to do amazing things and overcame so many challenges still smiling and hopeful. So today, I am so thrilled to highlight the lovely Vicky!
Irene: What is your name/pronouns?
Vicky: Victoria Gichohi (She/Her/Hers)
Irene: Give us a quick synopsis of who YOU ARE!
Yes, I’m the Community Engagement Manager for Rocket Doctor & Co-Founder of Black Girls Leadership Academy (BGLA). I’m from Compton, California born, raised & still a current resident. I’m passionate about finding resources to make people’s lives more sustainable and providing efficient health access to all populations.
Irene: Choose three words that come to mind when you define “Blackness”. Define each word in its relation to Blackness. Why did you choose these three words?
Vicky: Multi-faceted. Resilience. Innovative
Multi-faceted – Black folks, (Black, African, Caribbean, the entire diaspora) we all have come from Mother Africa for sure. Yet, we have beautiful shades of our complexion. We speak over 100 languages and even more dialects. We are represented in many fields. So to hear statements like, “Oh all Black people do this or that” is really out of pocket because although we may have similar experiences and upbringings, we still are very much complex. And I believe there is beauty in that too. Your Black experience has been different than mine and I can acknowledge, respect, learn, and embrace it too!
Resilience due to the fact that no matter what has been thrown our way, we come from generations and generations and still have the strength to continue on, which leads to my last word, Innovative. In spite of all the racist tactics and limited resources, we are innovators and pioneers. The majority of the tools and systems we have are due to the mind and imagination of a Black individual and oftentimes we don’t know it, myself included. From STEM to dance, we are truly global innovators!
Irene: What is the MOST beautiful thing about being Black to you?
Vicky: Lol it’s so many things. Our hair, our skin, our swag or juice. We are truly remarkable within our diaspora. Our strength. Our sense of community. Like us Black folks just got a little light and spark within us that I hope we individually do not lose it.
Irene: How has your experience been as a Black person in your respective field thus far?
Vicky: My experience being a Black person has been pretty positive. I haven’t been taken advantage of or felt disrespected. However, I think because of my experience in management, at times, I am disregarded. I have taken sub-comments very seriously i.e. “Oh don’t you have an MPH?” and/or taken for granted in terms of salary because of my MPH. Black women in my field are growing more and more. I believe the pandemic sheds so much light on the hard labor Black women have and are constantly doing for this country (Medical Assistants, Doulas, Physicians, Receptionists, etc…) We are on the front lines and deserve and demand respect at all costs.
Irene: How do you plan on showing up for the people as a Black person in your respective field?
Vicky: Representation is so key! How are we ever going to create an equitable society if we aren’t seeking the positions? If we aren’t at the table then who will be? Who will continue to advocate for our communities like Mari Copeny aka “Little Miss Flint” or Kizzmekia Corbett, the Black woman behind the COVID-19 vaccine? We are leaders, cultivators, and changemakers, grant writers, fundraisers, and rarely get recognition for it.
As for me, I will continuously urge our generation to combat and create equitable measures for all populations that they serve and invite communities to the table on how to make a more sustainable community. With my org, BGLA, we are creating this through mentorship being led by another Black professional and allowing mentees to focus on leadership development in improving disparities that already exist in their respective communities.
Also, I hope to start a clinic back home in my father’s home country of Kenya, specifically Nakuru, and be able to provide access to families that rarely receive the care they need.
Irene: Any advice, gems, or words of encouragement for future Black people who want to pursue your field?
Vicky: The field is growing tremendously! If you have empathy and care about health and providing help to others, this is the field for you. Unlike typical clinical healthcare, you can go into so many areas. You can go into policy, epidemiology, get hands-on experience as a doula, nutritionist, navigator for patients, counselor, investigator, researcher, communications, social media and more. This field is truly a place where you can grow and combine any passion you are gifted with into your work.
Also, NETWORK and be able to be a community advocate. You have to learn how to talk to many people from all walks of life, even having small conversations in other languages. Be consistent and honest. Community Members will not engage if you are not transparent and consistent. They don’t want to see you just for one time and you dip and leave their city or neighborhood. You have to have empathy and be of service to them while also including them in the conversation. Go on the ground. Volunteer. Do the work necessary in order to build and grow.
Irene: What is one of your favorite songs that fit/exemplifies that Black is Beautiful?
Vicky: Wow, great question! There are so many to choose from. If I have to take it back it, would be Lovely Day by Bill Withers, and if I had to speed it up, currently it would be Alright by Kendrick Lamar, Solange’s Almeda and of course Beyonce’s Brown Skin Girl. In my opinion, all four of these songs celebrate Black beauty, Black love in all its forms, and motivate us. In a world where we are scrutinized and taunted, we have to have platforms and songs to remind us of the gems we are, how much we contribute to the world, and that we matter! We really do and I love these songs as anthems!
Irene: How can we support a fellow amazing Black person like yourself? Do you have any projects, businesses, creations, etc. that you are working on that you would like to speak briefly about and/or that we can support?
Vicky: Be sure to check out Black Girls Leadership academy at www.blackgirlslead.org and also on all social media platforms @BlackGirlsLeadershipAcademy
Irene: Can folks connect with you to learn more about you/support you? If so, please drop your social media info down below!
Irene: Anything else you want us to know about you or anything you want to share with the readers? Feel free to drop it down below!
Vicky: I appreciate all the amazing work and efforts you are doing Irene in showcasing and highlighting incredible Black Women in our field and work!
Wow, I hope that you all are as inspired and refreshed as I am after reading about Vicky’s journey and all of the gems she dropped today. It is amazing to see a fellow Black woman breaking grounds in the field of public health. I will say, BGLA is such a beautiful organization that I was able to recently be a part of at the ELEVATE Summit that they hosted late January. If you are reading this and are a Black girl interested in leadership development or professional growth, I highly recommend getting involved! Also, Almeda is a forever anthem, I totally agree!
Thanks for tuning into the blog, Renrenspeakers! Keep that alert button on and stay plugged in on the Renrenspeaks Instagram page for the next post dropping next Saturday for Part 2 of my Black is Beautiful mini blog series – health care edition! Stay unapologetically Black, my Black readers!
Peace and love,