Coach/Puerto Rican/Mexican/Italian/Motivator

I am love.

I am difference.

I am resilient.

What ultimately defines who I am is my story of where I am from. I grew up in Redlands, CA which is historically rich community but i grew up on part of freeway that wasn’t rich. I found education to be my safe outlet; my homelife never had the opportunity to feel safe. People in my home were doing  drugs, doing things that were not okay. I did not know a lot of kids going through that or didn’t even think to ask. I used education as a way out. I did a lot of after school extracurricular activities so that I could be on campus and away from home as much as possible. When I was 5 years old, I said I am going to college and will get away. Didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to go. I started to do advance classes, GATE, learning programs.  I was in clubs, played a sport, played an instrument. Did all of this for the A-G requirements to go to California university.

I was first in family to get to college. I said o myself, “Now what? What’s my next A-G list?” I got there and  was asked what I wanted to major in; I had no clue. I was a member of a program called STEP (Students Together Empowering Peers). STEP helped bridge the gap through high school and college for students that were first generation. I wanted to do computer science and business, but my first core class didn’t do well. I was willing to take the “L” and withdraw from the class. I was lucky enough to go to liberal arts college so when I initially registered for classes, I had to register for what some would call elective classes even though they fulfilled my general education requirements. I ended up enrolling up in a few sociology classes and women’s study classes. I liked sociology so much more. I was obsessed. It changed my perspective on how to interact with people, helped map out my lineage of my past and what to bring to my future. I am also a person focused on social justice and this helped make connections as to why my circumstances were the way they were growing up. As a person that used to be homeless as a young kid, this was a big thing for me, being a young person seeing education not highlighted as an opportunity for me.

Junior year came and didn’t know what to do. I was distracted by college stuff, didn’t put effort into life after college. The program, STEP, I was in didn’t really support students after sophomore year. Any first gen student program drops off once students finished with their second year. Which was a big gap of time for me to figure out and plan for on my own. For a long time, I thought I was passionless person roaming around and only doing things that made me happy for a moment.

During this time of roaming, I came across an organization called, City Year. I was placed at a high school in South Los Angeles to support students academically in their core subjects. At first, I was nervous to move to Los Angeles from Redlands. I used to tell myself all of the time that I would never go to LA, and would do the work I care about in my hometown, but I viewed it as a sign to do something bigger than myself. During my one year with City Year, I worked with a number of high school students and started to understand how broken our educational system really is. My students were dealing with personal trauma, were struggling with ways to meet their basic needs, and I was finding it difficult to support them academically. I realized in that moment, that I did not have an authentic relationship with my students, they didn’t know the real me, my background, and I hadn’t included time to check in with them as people as opposed to just as students that need to pass their classes. I started over with them. I shared with them where I grew up, in a similar situation as them, that I dealt with difficulties when I was younger, being homeless, having drugs surround me, etc. I told my students that education is the one key that can open doors and allow for them to change their current situation. Once, I let my wall down, and began to be real with my students, they trusted me and I started to see more an investment in their classes, school work, and education overall. That experience, taught me how important it is to connect with people. That it is very difficult to reach a goal or outcome, if I do not put people first.

Once my 1 year commitment was fulfilled, I still was searching for something for me to do full time and full heart job wise. I worked a lot of odd jobs, 2 -3 jobs at a time, just trying to find what was right for me. During this period, I honestly was not taking care of myself both physically and emotionally. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, and entered a phase of depression. One day, I entered a workout class with Herbalife that I was randomly invited to. Being there really started to help me change my view of what healthy was and the importance of having a supportive community behind you. Ever since I went to Los Angeles, I was finding it hard to find people that I could relate to and build a rapport with.From the beginning, the environment and energy was positive, supportive, and straight up real and honest. I finally felt as though I found a family.

Herbalife not only helped me find my Los Angeles family, but also helped me to identify and embrace my love for helping others. I quickly went from being a member, to then being a coach to other members. I love what I do. I love to see how someone’s confidence, knowledge, and life are strengthened from the experiences that I am able to develop as a coach. When my members win, I win. I will always root them on and be their biggest and loudest supporter because I know how much will, determination, and power have to go into changing your habits, mindsets, and lifestyle.

Another perk of being a coach, is that I can have the time to work on my passion project. For the past few years, I have been developing my business plan for my own non-profit/school. Due to my childhood experiences and that of my students from South LA, I have realized that I want to create a thriving school where students feel supported, safe, and pushed to be our next generation of leaders. When I was younger, I would scream up and down, I never want to be a teacher because the profession is so devalued, but this calling is bigger than myself. My goal is for the students to take on the role of being change agents. The school will bring awareness to issues and wealth within our communities and heighten the students’ critical consciousness. From there, the students will feel empowered to leverage their leadership and enact the change they seek in the world.

I want to use my strengths of connecting with people, coaching others, and social justice orientation to empower and strengthen our Los Angeles community. I plan on getting my Master’s in Urban Education Leadership to help me further hone my craft, vision, and impact in with our youth and educational system.

I encourage other POC to be willing to engage and support other POC. The culture and society we live makes it easy to stand divided. A united nation is one that puts the good of ALL people above the individual. Big changes are the culmination of small and consistent changes over time. We already have a shared and common goal of creating equity for the generations growing behind us. We need to be willing to put intentional, daily action steps in the direction towards achieving our goals. Don’t lose sight of the goal when you reach an impasse or a wall, be innovative, determined and collaborative about getting over it and keep going. Do everything with love.

Want to stay connected to Kayla and her work?

ig: coach_morelove24

Coaching: coachmorelove.goherbalife.com/