Growing up, did you have role models that looked like you? How important is it for young people to see successful Black role models in business and science?
My grandfather was a prominent attorney in the Bay Area who showed me how to conduct myself professionally and with integrity. He taught me to be self-sufficient and let others know I deserve respect. From him, I learned that the work you do is most important. I don't want to be judged; just put me in the role and let me do the job. I realize there is prejudice that people of color face in the workplace, but I’m grateful that I haven't experienced it at the Lab.
This year's theme for Black History Month is "Plan of Action." What is your plan for self-improvement or helping others improve in 2022 as a means of obtaining equality?
Now that I've had the opportunity to become more comfortable in my role, I can actively participate in the African American Employee Resource Group. I volunteered for the steering committee and now putting together the speaker series for this month's Black History Month. I enjoy bringing people together, connecting with them. I do that through music when I host the Groove Lounge, and I want to do it through the ERG by sharing our heritage during Black History Month. The Groove Lounge on Feb. 24 at 5 p.m. will feature the contributions of African Americans to music, dance, art, and culture.
You can't spend all of your time at the Lab. What is the one thing we don't know about you that defines you?
Well, you know about my DJ experience, but did you know I used to DJ for some of the local Bay Area tour boats? I enjoy spending time on and in the water because it calms my spirit. I was a lifeguard and swim instructor for many years at the beach and poolside. I have saved at least ten people from drowning while not on duty and had a few more rescues while lifeguarding. My most memorable was at Black Rock Beach in Maui, which is especially treacherous since the volcanic rocks are very sharp and slippery.
Currently, I'm into kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. I'm happy to talk about water sports any time!