Keith Richardson, Community Engagement Coordinator
Vanderbilt University CRS, Nashville, TN, USA
Around 2016 when I was working in corporate America doing logistics for a shipping company, I found myself working and living without a purpose. I would go to work and do my 9 to 5 but come home miserable and repeat the same patterns every day. HIV research became an area of interest to me when I attended my first Nashville AIDS Walk and met former Community Educator Vic Sorrell. We had a deep conversation that day about all the work that goes on in the community and throughout the world regarding HIV/AIDS. I became involved the following year and started working for the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program, where I met a wonderful community of CAB members, nurses, physicians, activists, researchers, PLWHA and most importantly our study participants. I knew that my role would be more than just working in an office sitting and talking to patients, but getting to know these individuals and their stories. This work is not about me but for the greater good of humanity and finding resources to help end the epidemic. We must start educating and having more uncomfortable conversations with our peers as well as ourselves. What I love about working with the HVTN community is that you get to meet so many people who are willing to sacrifice their time and energy for a noble cause; these participants and community leaders genuinely care about the work and it shows. I truly feel that all of us have a mission while we are here on Earth. This mission can be identified as a charge and responsibility to pull the next generation up behind you.