Maya Godfrey is in her first year as a Youth Board Member for the California School-Based Health Alliance (CSHA). She is in her second year of college at Berkeley City College and Merritt College after spending her first year at Howard University. She is focusing on public health and education with hopes of transferring to a UC in the future.
Maya also works as a Project Associate at Youth Radio where she teaches journalism in the Media Education Department. In addition, she serves as Education Committee Leader for Youth Radio’s Youth Advisory Board, which focuses on building the bridge between the youth and adult participants within the organization. Maya has always had a passion for health, education, and advocating for her peers and community.
What made you want to join our Youth Board?
After spending a year in Howard, I returned to California knowing that I wanted to become a part of an organization that focuses on public health and advocacy. As a young person I understand how important it is for us to have adults that support us and can guide us down the right path. CSHA seemed like that type of organization and I wanted to be a part of it.
What has your experience been since joining?
At Youth Radio I work with other youth whereas at CSHA, I get to work with adults who can give me tips to get to where I want to be professionally. I hope to one day run my own non-profit, and CSHA is giving me valuable insight on how an organization is run.
What do you like best about being on the Youth Board?
When I leave our meetings and activities, I feel empowered and I look forward to how and where I will apply my new found knowledge. I’m really lucky to have this organization looking out for me, and people like Molly who support me.
Did your high school have a health center? If so, how often did you visit?
We did. I didn’t go very often but when I did, I always felt safe and comfortable. It took me a while to visit, but people talked about it enough that it made me wonder and so I had to check it out. Some days were quite empty, but there were also days when a lot of students hung around at the health center.
You attended Oakland Technical High. What did you like most about your health center there?
I liked how comfortable it made me feel. Everyone was really nice. A lot of the students that visited seemed to know each other well and I liked that. I felt that if other students felt comfortable enough to spend most of their free time in the health center, than it must be a good place to be.
Why do you think it is important to have a school-based health center?
Access is very important. It’s good to have a place that is for the students. Confidentiality is key, that’s the main thing for me. As a young person, I feel we have the right to keep things to ourselves and only share them with others when we want. Parents don’t need to know everything and we shouldn’t have to ask them for permission regarding our bodies. They’re our bodies. It can get very weird and complicated when they’re around. I guess the confidentiality that school-based health centers offer might be my favorite aspect.
What would you tell a student who has doubts about visiting a health center?
We have to acknowledge there is often a stigma around visiting the health center. I remember in high school, someone would visit and it was assumed that they were getting checked for STDs. It was seen as a bad thing, but it’s not bad because your health matters and it’s important to take care of yourself instead of caring about what others think of you. You could be missing out on something that’s there for you. The health center can help you; you won’t know unless you go.