I was born in Fargo, North Dakota, but moved to my childhood home in St. Anthony, MN when I was two years old and lived there until moving to Columbia Heights in 2020. I come from a family of teachers, with three of my grandparents and both of my parents graduating from college with education degrees. My paternal grandfather was a WWII veteran who fought at D-Day and was one of the first African-Americans to graduate with a Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota, going on to pioneer modern-day special education in Minnesota. My dad followed in his footsteps and has been a special education teacher in the Minneapolis area for over 20 years, and my mom has been a small business owner ever since I was born, running a daycare out of our home for over 25 years.
My parents worked hard to build a good life for my sister and me, but we were faced with the same challenges too many families suffer from. I remember the struggles we faced when my dad was let go from his job right before getting tenure. During this time we were forced to pay for all of our family's medications and healthcare out of pocket, ration what we had, or make the difficult choice to go without them completely. When my dad injured his leg during this time while we didn't have insurance, he was forced to stay home and forego evaluation at the hospital - knowing that the cost of the evaluation and treatment would be substantial.
Growing up, I went to school in the St. Anthony - New Brighton School district. Here is where I originally met my future wife, Keturah (and we had our first class together in 4th grade!). At St. Anthony Village High, I was a three-sport athlete (football, baseball, and basketball), a four-year member in the high school band, a part of the National Honors Society, an honor roll student, and involved with numerous other groups and activities. When I was recruited to play Division one football in college, I chose to attend Hamline University in St. Paul, MN so that I could balance my scientific studies, athletics, and extracurricular activities all while staying close to the community that I grew up in and love.
Initially, I thought that I was going to follow in my parents' footsteps and major in both education and biology, combining two of my passions. Along the way, I was able to shadow a physician, and doing so changed my career trajectory. I realized that pursuing a medical degree could combine both my interest in science and my love for teaching.
At Hamline, I majored in biochemistry, was a four-year starter on the football team as a quarterback, was voted as a captain by my teammates for my junior and senior seasons, a three-time all-conference selection, and was fortunate to set multiple school records. I also had to work hard in order to pay for college - I worked as an undergraduate researcher, a statistician, and with ACR Homes as a Primary Care Assistant to adults with mental and physical disabilities. Despite working these three jobs, I still needed to take out loans with the expensive and rising cost of college. When it came time to apply to medical schools, I knew that my top choice was the University of Minnesota.
Before starting medical school, Keturah and I were married in Taylors Falls in July of 2019. We loved the area we both grew up in and knew we wanted to stay in the community that had given us so much. Together, we decided to buy our first house in Columbia Heights right before the pandemic swept the globe and just welcomed our first baby to the world in March of 2022. COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone in so many ways, and as a nurse, my wife knows these hardships with first-hand experience.
As a future physician, it is pivotal to advocate for patients. I did not always intend to run for political office, but I became interested in public policy when I saw how many laws and regulations directly affect my patients' well-being and quality of life. And this is not limited to just healthcare insurance and coverage - things like affordable housing, the ability to earn a livable wage, climate action, public safety, education funding, transportation, and infrastructure all play critical roles in one's health and ability to thrive. It is important to have elected officials with knowledge of medicine and public health because everything we do must be done through the lens of how it will affect the short and long-term health of our communities. The German physician and anthropologist Rudolf Virchow famously stated that "Medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale."
It is also critical to have public officials who represent our communities. Being biracial, I understand and recognize the racism that has impacted both my family and our community, and I will always fight for racial, social, and economic justice. Historically, younger generations have also not been equally represented in our government. Young people face many barriers in running for public office, including the burden of student loans and smaller amounts of savings available. Despite this, my generation's voices still need to be heard and represented. If elected, I would be the second person of color elected to the Columbia Heights city council and one of the youngest members at 26 years old.
I believe in a better Columbia Heights, and I believe that we can work together to solve today's problems. We can build a better city that works for everyone, but we have to fight for it.