Alum Spotlight: Vaughn Kimmons
As we start up the latest Wholistic Nutrition Program group, it’s a great time to reach out to our alumni to see what they are up to. It never ceases to amaze us to learn about the variety of interests and passions our students/alumni pursue alongside nutrition. Vaughn Kimmons (WNP3 Alum) is a great example. She reminds us that wellness is created and nurtured in a multitude of ways, from wholistic nutrition to creative expression.
You graduated from the program in May 2015, what have you been up to since then?
Since graduating, I’ve sincerely been thinking about how I can positively impact my community. When I say “my community”, I’m referring to people of African descent in the U.S. I attended The Wellspring School because I feel it is my duty to gather knowledge in order to teach. I believe that our purpose as humans is to help others progress. I set out to take the knowledge I gained and share it with individuals in my predominately Black neighborhood back in my hometown of Chicago. I saw what the lack of proper information on health was doing to my community and I wanted to dismantle the mis-education so others could have a second chance at life. A chance to take control and self-heal. Diabetes and heart disease are not my heritage or birthright. I wanted to teach my community that very thing.
Now, that I’ve graduated, the mission hasn’t changed but the methods have. I am not practicing nutrition, save for the friends and family who want a few tips and suggestions, but my mission is still wellness. My creativity is what fuels my mission now. Currently I am working on projects here in Portland that highlight Black self-expression. Depression in the Black community is often dismissed and is sometimes viewed as taboo within our community, so allowing Black people the opportunity to convey their own stories and express themselves in a voice that is their own is imperative. The tense climate of our society has left Black people feeling fed up, tired, frustrated, intimidated, misunderstood, disrespected, and hated among other things. This can often lead to apathy and depression. One way to combat this is by letting people live and tell their truths. Black Portlanders are able to do this via a monthly celebration here in Portland that is a prioritized space for Black people. This event is hosted by a creative collective of which I am a member. It’s called YGB, which stands for young, gifted and Black. In this space, Black people have the opportunity to fellowship with one another in a town that has left the Black community disjointed and displaced. The joy we see on the faces of participants is reaffirming that we’re on the right path. I also have other creative projects in the works which seek to tell the various stories of Black people. Seeing our reflection in the world can help make us feel whole.
You focused your community project on getting in touch with your roots (as they relate to nutrition) and encouraging others to do the same. Have you continued working with this passion?
Yes, I definitely have. As I said before, it’s not nutrition related but my passion is all about wellness. In addition to the YGB celebration, I also host an event called Sankofa. Sankofa is an Akan term from Ghana in West Africa and it translates as, “reach back and get it”. This concept explains that we must know our past to move forward and progress. We must take the knowledge from our ancestors and use those lessons to make the best future. We must reach back and grab our pride, our self worth, our dignity. So many myths are spread about people of African descent and I feel I’ve been put on this planet to dismantle those lies! Our event, Sankofa, seeks to highlight the influence of Africa on Black self expression via the arts. Sankofa is a showcase of local musicians, artists, dancers and other creatives who convey the diversity of Africa. Africa is more than just traditional music, it is R&B and soul music, it is the martial art capoeira, it is spoken word and breakdancing. It is so much more! We wanna celebrate all that beauty!
Any words of advice to prospective and incoming students who are just getting into the field of Wholistic Nutrition?
I would encourage prospective and incoming students to study with love. Studying with love is envisioning your goal, setting up plans to achieve that goal, but at the same time staying conscious of why you’re on the path. Remember what you’re studying for. One can easily say that they’re attending school just for self, but even in healing self we have the power to heal others. Our positive vibrations trickle to the next soul over. Love is the key.
Thank you, Vaughn! We wish you all the best!