"I overcome human trafficking, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse. But that's not my story! It's what happened after these experiences that changed me in ways, I never could have imagined".
Born in the Caribbean and adopted at the age of three. Rhonelle grew up raised by a Canadian family in a small town. Growing up as the “other” she endured years of bullying and discrimination and struggled with social isolation and anxiety. Unable to find support and hoping to escape her problems, she left home and ended up on the streets of downtown Toronto.
As a homeless teenager and high school dropout, Rhonelle bounced between youth shelters before being lured into the sex industry, working under the control of human traffickers. This life left her exposed to constant threats of physical and sexual violence, which thankfully, she was able to escape. But not long after, became pregnant and struggled to provide for her daughter as a single mother.
Determined not to merely survive but thrive despite her challenging circumstances,
Rhonelle returned to school and went on to complete both an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from New York City College of Technology and a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Victoria. After which, she enjoyed a successful career working as both a researcher and analyst in leading healthcare institutions in both The United States and Canada.
Wanting to see other vulnerable people rise despite their circumstances, in 2018 Rhonelle founded, the RISE Initiative; a grassroots project to help support vulnerable youth, many much like herself, having overcome multiple traumatic experiences. Through RISE, she is able to share her story to help inspire and motivative others but also to help spread awareness and advocate for those who are often overlooked, marginalized and disadvantaged.
Along with her work with RISE, Rhonelle is an active community leader, sitting on multiple boards including: Massey Centre for Women, the Human Trafficking Advisory Committee, and the Black Students Achievement Community Advisory Committee.
As a public speaker and advocate, Rhonelle is an invited speaker to conferences, community organizations, educational institutions, panel discussions. And most recently participated in a roundtable on economic empowerment and entrepreneurship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.