Vanessa Nutters is a Class of 2010 alumna of the original FACES Oakland program. Raised in East Oakland, California, Vanessa attended Oakland Tech as a high school student and joined the Health Academy to pursue opportunities in health and medicine as a young woman of color. Vanessa went on to be the first person in her family to attend and graduate from an university, where she attained her Bachelor’s degree with a major in Science and Technology Studies and a minor in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Davis. She is currently working to complete her prerequisites for application to an Master of Science in Nursing program.
At present, Vanessa works in service to the Oakland community. She leads student support services for the Health Academy at her high school alma mater, while instructing various science and research related courses throughout the year. Vanessa also leads a community health and leadership program for youth, where she educates students on topics ranging from the rich history of Oakland, health care, and social determinants of health to current affairs. Her students complete research action projects, where Vanessa guides lessons through deep rooted issues plaguing marginalized communities. Vanessa says that through applying knowledge and wisdom, young people and adults alike can begin to heal and mend their communities. A proud FACES alum, Vanessa aspires to continue impacting marginalized communities, both in California and abroad, through means of health practice, education, access and art – the intersection of her passions.
In the future, she will practice as a Registered Nurse in marginalized communities, impacting community health through education combined with clinical practice. She says that when she joined FACES in 2008, she was given a chance at something she might never have known otherwise. Vanessa feels that she was given an opportunity to learn, to nurture, and to begin to see the manifestations of healers – drastically different from the realities accompanying her East Oakland neighborhood. She says “Dr. Magaña and the entire FACES community kept me motivated, provided me a positive and productive outlet, allowed me a safe space, and granted me the opportunity to pursue my education and a profession that would allow me to help re-build my community. FACES opened my eyes to the potential of what I could become and allowed me to reflect on my strength and resiliency. It was my family and my home, when I did not have my own.” Moving forward, Vanessa wishes to continue the tradition, mentoring disenfranchised young people to pursue fruitful lives and do the hard work of healing both themselves and their communities.
Vanessa’s advice to current youth in the FACES program is to always remember where you come from and to be empowered by your story. She says, “sometimes remembering entails learning. Learning your history. Learning the special place you fill in your community. Inheriting tradition and wisdom from your elders so that you can begin to heal and create a new life of abundance. Embracing your struggle and realizing your power.” Vanessa wants young people to know that it is important to remain open to life no matter what experiences you have had, negative or otherwise. Utilize your support systems, your mentors and your resources. Seek a holistic understanding of yourself, your community and nature. She stresses the benefits of gaining exposure to vibrant literature, local art, informative media, universal truths and leaders in the community. Vanessa encourages students to continually document and express their feelings, findings, and thoughts concurrent with their experiences. She says “these will challenge you, inspire you, and lead you to your passions – your very own documentation will show you what truly takes up space in your heart, so that you can intentionally create your future and be a light for others.”