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RECAP of Melanin and Medicine


Build 2 Lead hosted it's 2nd annual Melanin and Medicine Event on February 22nd at Thomas Jefferson High School! Melanin and Medicine was designed as part of Build 2 Lead's Legacy Programs to help connect, inspire, and empower BIPOC youth and community members by creating a space for youth and members of the medical community to network, share experiences, and celebrate our community. The Melanin and Medicine Event featured a key note speaker, healthcare and holistic wellness presenters, workshops, the TJHS Black Student Union Talent Show, food, a networking event, and vendors.


Over 100 youth attended the event, with the help of 35 volunteers!


Check out our Executive Director, Jimmy Brown speak about the inspiration for the event in the video!




Workshops and panels were presented by healthcare professionals who aimed to inspire students to consider healthcare careers.  During the our breakout sessions, students were able to participate in the following inspiring and interactive experiences:


Workshop 1A:

"Navigating the American Medical System as an African Doctor and Researcher"

  • Solomon Kassa, Benaroya Research Institute- B203


Workshop 2A:

"Between Doors: Navigating college & setting yourself up for success"

  • Paris Grady, Naturopath Medical Student, Bastyr University- B224


Workshop 3A:

"Beyond the Bedside: Exploring Non-Clinical Careers in Healthcare"

  • Cora Wyche, Healthcare Operations Fellow, Virginia Mason Franciscan Healthcare


Workshop 4A:

"Heart Work: Own Your Story, Shape Your Future"

  • Dr. Brian Garrett, Program Manager Undergraduate Health Science Academy, Morehouse School of Medicine

  • Dr. Rahmelle Thompson, Assistant Dean of Pipeline Initiatives at Morehouse School of Medicine

  • Dr. Ryan Clark, Director at the Office for Educational Outreach & Health Careers at Morehouse School of Medicine


Workshop Workshop 1B:

"Career Connections: Basics of nursing assessments"

  • Josiah Wedgwood, Registered Nurse/Nursing Director, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

  • A.J. Dizon, Registered Nurse at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

  • Denise Mills Registered Nurse


Workshop 2B:

"So you want to be a Doctor, now what" & Suture Clinic

  • Dr. Nkeiruka Duze, MD, Concierge Medicine/Executive Health, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

  • Dr. Barrington Murrell, Resident - Surgery, Graduate Medical Education, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health


Workshop 3B:

"Hands On, Medical Assistant"

  • Alexus Reyes, M.A. Apprenticeship Program Trainer, Health Point

  • Julia Krilevich, Talent Acquisition Manager, Health Point

  • Brandon Benson, Health Point


Workshop 4B:

"Honor your Sanctuary: Helpful tools to relieve stress and anxiety"

  • Trevor Taylor, Yogi, K-12 Educator, Professional Speaker


Events like Melanin and Medicine are critical experience for our youth! Through legacy events like these students are exposed to new career paths and inspired by people who have made and impact in their community. Witnessing and networking with BIPOC leaders can help shift what a student sees as possible or open up a new area of interest. One student said,


“They talked about their experiences and made me feel like good and it was impactful making me kinda want to do something medical. The vibe was cool when we got to do something hands on.”


Without this experience, students who are now considering the medical field wouldn’t have otherwise. As an organization, Build 2 Lead is working to actively develop community-based systems change initiatives within the systems of criminal justice, healthcare, and education through our B2L Legacy pathway.


After the event, Build 2 Lead conducted a post-event survey and here are some of the results:


  • 64% of the participants who answered the survey were between the ages of 16-18. 33% were between the ages of 12-14.

  • 86% of the participants were male and 14% were female.

  • 58% of participants rated their experience at the event a “5” out of a 1-5 rating scale. 29% rated it a “4” and 13% rated it a “3.”

  • 61% of the participants rated their experience in the workshops a “5” out of a 1-5 rating scale. 33% rated it a “4” and 6% rated it a “3.”



The event was a huge success and we are so grateful for the participation and partnership of the students, guest speakers, presenters, panel members, partners, and vendors! Build 2 Lead can't wait to host an even bigger and better conference next year!



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