Sisters Launch Organization to Fight AIDS, Raise Awareness
June 25, 2015
When Jessica Becerra began the Health Services Administration program in 2005, she didn’t know that just 10 years later she’d be running her own organization. A.J. Drexel always believed that an education should not only be good, but good for something, and Jessica’s organization certainly fits that bill.
SIDA, or Sisters Inspired to Defeat AIDS, was founded by Jessica and her sister Liz in 2011 and offers motivational speeches to high school and college-aged students. Through the narrative of their personal experience with AIDS, Jessica and Liz encourage teens and young adults to rise above peer pressure, focus on education and raise awareness about the consequences of drug and alcohol use.
Jessica and Liz lost their father and mother to AIDS in 1992, but concealed their cause of death due to the negative stigma attached to the disease. Nearly 20 years later, the sisters were ready to share their story with the world in hopes of preventing another tragedy. The mantra of SIDA is “opening the door to an unspoken truth,” and that is exactly what Jessica and Liz do at their speaking engagements.
“I had always wanted to help people, make a difference, share my story and inspire others” said Jessica, and the Health Services Administration program empowered her to do so. Jessica enrolled in the course Non-profits and Health Care during her final year at Drexel, and she cites this as the springboard for SIDA. Jessica remembers an assignment where she had to propose an idea for her own non-profit which initiated her research into AIDS-related organizations. After discovering ActionAIDS, a Philadelphia-based non-profit offering services to individuals and families affected by AIDS, Jessica began networking with the organization and ultimately found a mentor that helped her secure SIDA’s first speaking engagement.
Three years and countless speaking engagements later, Jessica and Liz returned to Drexel to share their journey and future plans with current Health Services Administration students. “Our future plans thus far include venturing to different states to speak and making a significant impact on the Latino community” said Jessica. On June 14, the sisters took their first step towards those goals by traveling to Washington, DC to present at The Capital Congress, a weekend event celebrating Latino culture. They’ve also secured several speaking engagements at various Philadelphia high schools and hope to return to Temple University, Liz’s alma mater, to speak with college students in a course called Death and Dying.
At the end of the day, Jessica and Liz are happy make an impact on students’ lives and slowly erode the negative stigma attached to AIDS. “We want to motivate audiences to value life and empower them to succeed in all aspects regardless of their situation.” They are accomplishing this goal one speech at a time.
For more information on SIDA please visit www.sidanow.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.