They say one number difference in your zip code can drastically change your life, and my life reflects just that. My parents came to the US in 1995, and two years later I was born. My first zip code was housed in South Central, Los Angeles, not the kindest of cities. From gang violence, to poverty, and tons of crime, it isn’t a city for a child to grow up. Thankfully it didn’t take long for us to move, and three years later we ended up in a couple different zip codes and ended up in Pomona. My Y story begins in Pomona, with my parents taking me to the Pomona YMCA to get me swim lessons. I eventually joined the Jr. Lakers, joined swim teams, and never wanted to leave the YMCA. To me the Y was a big part of my childhood. In 2005, my sister was born and months later we found ourselves in Avondale, AZ. It was our first big move and sadly a Y wasn’t in the area at the time until the South West YMCA opened up and my family moved to Goodyear, where I spent the next ten years of my life at, the longest time I ever was able to call a zip code mine. My high school experience is when my nonprofit passion began with a ton of volunteer work with local nonprofits and charities. High school for me was a time of discovery as I had no idea what I wanted to do, and after graduating in 2015 from Desert Edge with a 3.85 GPA, honors, and a full ride to Arizona State University, I was as lost as ever of what the future had in store for me.

I majored at ASU with a Bachelor of Science in Nonprofit Leadership & Management and on May 9th I graduated with cum laude, 3.56 GPA, and was a certified nonprofit professional ready to change the world. But that wasn’t the case a few months prior where my Y journey truly began. November 2018 I was told my final semester was to be a senior internship, and I scrambled through the hundred business cards and LinkedIn connections I had to find something.

But then the lightbulb lit up and I remembered the impact the Y had on my childhood and figured it was my time to give back. I reached out to the Chandler Y to see if they could squeeze me in for a three-month internship and began my career as a Sports Coordinator. I did the YMCA Leadership Academy, a program founded by the Valley of the Sun YMCA to train graduating seniors in the nonprofit sector to be the best Y professional they can be through hands on training, in branch experience, and top-level leadership taught classes. While the internship was by far one of the toughest experiences I faced, I saw it to the end, graduated both ASU and YLA, and can proudly say I am the Sports Director of the Chandler YMCA, ready to impact my community and give the youth the same opportunities the YMCA gave to me almost 20 years ago.