I was born and raised in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Moving to the Washington, DC, area in 2002 allowed me to pursue a career in consulting for non-profit organizations, as well as HIV/AIDS advocacy.
Before I became a clinical trial participant at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC), I had been active in the community around HIV/AIDS. I had donated financially to organizations working on HIV/AIDS education and volunteered my time with a number of service organizations, but I didn’t always see or feel the impact of my contribution.
Serving as a vaccine trial volunteer was a very different experience. From my screening visit through each follow-up visit, I could see that I had a tangible role in ending the AIDS pandemic. Each time I visited the VRC clinic, I felt that the entire team was on the same page as I was: being a part of what could one day bring us to a preventive HIV vaccine. The VRC team made sure that all of the clinical volunteers were well taken care of and were aware of the impact they were having.
Along with participating in a preventive HIV vaccine research study, I got involved with the VRC Community Advisory Board (CAB), Capital Area Vaccine Effort. By serving with the CAB, I was able to offer recommendations on future research protocols, engage with other volunteers, and serve as an advocate for vaccine research. “I think the VRC is home to some of the most brilliant minds on the planet working on this issue. To get to know and contribute to their work made me feel like I was a part of history in the making.”