Rhonelle Bruder’s story is one of resilience and determination despite
insurmountable obstacles. Adopted at the age of three the Caribbean, Rhonelle grew up in raised by a white family in a predominately-white community. Growing up as the “other” Rhonelle endured years of bullying and discrimination. Although she had a loving family, both her parents struggled with mental illness and therefore where unable to provide the parental support needed to address the serious issues she faced. Hoping to escape her problems, Rhonelle left home and ended up on the streets of downtown Toronto.
As a homeless teen, Rhonelle experienced, poverty, precarious employment, sexual exploitation, teen pregnancy, and threats of violence. As a young teen mom, without a high school education, Rhonelle struggled to provide for her daughter, working multiple low paying jobs. Determined to make a better life for her family, Rhonelle returned to school and relied on the strategies she developed on the like adaptability, positive thinking, mindfulness, and visualization to help complete an Honours Bachelor of Science in Health Administration and a Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Victoria.
To help spread awareness and make a direct impact on youth in crisis, Rhonelle founded the RISE Initiative to inspire, advocate, and empower vulnerable youth who have often grown up socio-economically marginalized, exploited and having survived multiple traumatic events in their lives. Rhonelle leverages both her background in healthcare and academic research to help other young people with a similar experiences by raising awareness and helping to reduce the stigma vulnerable populations face.