Location: Dallas, TX, United States
- Issues Areas:
- Health Equity
- Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice
Campus: Dallas County Community Colleges - Dallas, TX
Fellowship Class Year: 2009
Blueprint: Increasing Sexual Health in Dallas
Through her Blueprint, Agnes raised awareness of AIDS and advocated for sexual assult victims throuh a support group of her creation, which she launched in order to install a permanent structure at Dallas County Community College to address these epidemics in youth.
Featured Fellow Spotlight
What do you stand for?
I stand for HIV awareness, outreach and prevention and also for the rights of sexual assault victims.
And how did you come to YP4?
The sponsor for my previous student club, called SASA (Student Advocate for Sexual Assault Awareness), nominated me and I filled out the application, I got accepted, and it was one of the best experiences of my whole life. Seriously! Being surrounded by so many intelligent, compassionate and progressive minds was re-energizing!
I hear you were at an Amnesty International conference. Tell me more about that.
Yeah, I recently went to Boston, Massachusetts for an Amnesty International conference, and it was incredible. Of course, Amnesty is a human rights organization and it was a general meeting and we talked about the accomplishments of the last year. One of them was that on day two [of his administration], Obama decided that Guantanamo Bay should be shut down because of the violation of human rights, the torture that went on there. That was a decision that Amnesty International has been working toward since the first reports of torture were revealed.
The campaign that brought me to Boston is The International Violence against Women Act (I-VAWA.Violence against women and girls represents a global health, economic development, and human rights problem. At least one out of every three women worldwide are beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates reaching 70% in some countries. The International Violence against Women Act (I-VAWA) is an unprecedented effort by the United States to address violence against women globally. So we’re going to have a meeting with our state senator and in which are going to be presenting this act on behalf of Amnesty International This will be my is my first lobbying experience, so I am really nervous but excited. With the presence of families of detained immigrants who are caught in the system without trial, Amnesty International organized in downtown Boston to in front of a government center.
It was completely amazing seeing all these activists coming together alongside all the speakers and guests from around the world and human rights movement. Just like YP4 summit I felt so blessed to be involved. I learned so much!
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Well, I would have to say that I have been doing HIV awareness since I was like 14 years old, thanks to my mother. She is a social worker, AIDS Alliance member and community health educator for many years. And I think my greatest accomplishment, I believe so far, is being chosen for YP4, because it was the first time I was actually recognized for my work and that was the first time I felt like I was doing something and making a difference. And being lumped in a group of so many intelligent young activists is just an honor.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by life itself. I feel we are blessed to have each day, each friend, mentor and experience and I do not take it for granted. I want to leave this world with a positive change in even one person’s life.. My work in the HIV/AIDS community is motivated by my late friend Tarquin Lewis who passed away last year and also my mother’s work. Like I said, community involvement is endless, she completely sacrifices her time and comfort for the community, which is completely inspiring.
What is your one main life goal that you want to accomplish? (What is your vision for the world?)
I want to make a difference in the lives of children because they are our future and that’s why I am studying to become a teacher. I am studying early childhood education and I want to go back home to Malawi, Africa where I was born and serve as a teacher. There is a brain drain in Malawi due to the tough and insufficient work conditions for teachers and doctors.
What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work?
Right now I am in the middle of organizing an HIV Awareness Fair at my school and I am planning it for the end of this month. School ends on May 9th. They are too concerned because it’s too close to the end of the year. But I am convinced that this is the best time to do this because HIV Testing Day is in June and at-risk youth are under the age of 30. So it is college students that are mostly affected. The administration is worried about one thing and I am facing that challenge at the moment. And especially leading up to summer, when people are irresponsible sexually, it’s the perfect way to end the year — getting them pumped up with HIV/STI information and also for HIV Testing Day, which is June 26th.
What advice do you have for others dealing with those struggles?
My advice to anyone struggling with the administration Seeing Eye to eye is to keep it respectful and don’t take it personally. It is never your fault and usually it is their inside politics and trying to keep it easy. Don’t burn any bridges either. Just remember to keep believing in what you believe in and don’t burn any bridges. Be steadfast and respectful and stick to your guns. Use your power mapping! The blueprint to social justice is an amazing book! Thank you again YP4!
Any advice for other student activists in your area?
Stay connected! And that’s one of the things I learned from YP4, which is so helpful. I think networking helps out a lot overall and is so powerful and beneficial, so stay connected.
Is there anything else that you want to say?
My YP4 mentor is Morgan Rahi from Baylor University. She is a senior fellow from the class of 2008. She has been so helpful towards me and I just want to publicly thank her for everything.