The Places that Shape Us: a Changemaker Profile

2 min read
Nov 1, 2022 10:18:26 AM

At mySidewalk, we have the honor of supporting changemakers all over the country. In this article, we highlight one of those unique champions who inspire us: Nicole Augustine. She's a Public Health advocate, master storyteller, and an all-around joy to know. 

A Champion of Others

Nicole Augustine learned the value of a Public Health safety net when, in one of her earliest memories, she was flung from the backseat of her family car while taking a sharp turn. Of course, it was a different time back then. Child safety seats weren't the norm and no one would look twice at a car full of kids climbing around the back seats. 

She was shaken up, but otherwise unharmed. This was Inglewood, California, in the 1980s, where Nicole spent the first nine years of her life. Her family then settled in Edmond, Oklahoma, a town that couldn't be more different than Inglewood if it tried. Nicole and her family were the only Black residents in their neighborhood. Her grandmother believed that this all-white city would offer more opportunities for the kids. With that opportunity came the tradeoff of being an "other." American residential segregation shapes the landscape of possibilities, and there are complex emotional transactions to be made for people of color seeking a better future. 

Early on, Nicole was a champion for the "others": the band geeks, the theater nerds, and the LGBTQ kids. Spending even ten minutes with Nicole, you immediately recognize that you are safe. Her empathy is obvious. This glow about her is likely why she made such a phenomenal health educator. Like many first-generation college students, Nicole juggled multiple jobs in college (at Cornell, which is a big deal, even if she's super humble about it), including a position as a health outreach leader focusing on sexual health and alcohol harm reduction. 

Like many of us, Nicole started college with pre-med dreams. She soon realized that her passion for health extended beyond the individual and into community movements. She pivoted into Sociology and fell in love, following up her undergrad degree with grad school in Washington, D.C. 

Nicole has an innate understanding of how our places shape us. From the predominantly Black and Brown enclave of Inglewood, to the whiteness of Edmond, to the Black church her grandmother insisted they drive to in Oklahoma, to the Ivy League, and to the natural beauty of North Carolina she finds solace in today — Nicole understands that she is a product of all of it, all at once. 

A Data-Driven Vision

The minute we met Nicole, we knew we had a kindred spirit. She came to us with a vision, fueled by her intellectual curiosity. She wanted to see demographic data for Inglewood and Edmond side by side. In a way, she wasn't just using data to make decisions — she was using data to understand her own journey. Nicole is the ultimate mySidewalker. She is living proof of the power of data and stories. 

A hero is someone who steps up for the folks who need it the most. It takes a lot of bravery to go out on your own and start a business. It's even more impressive that Nicole's firm, Rize Consultants, specializes in helping those who help others. Her team supports substance use prevention professionals as they design more effective interventions, navigate the labyrinth of the grant process, and inspire innovation in the field.

When we get busy over here at mySidewalk, it's easy to lose sight of what all of this work is for. Nicole is just one of the changemakers whose story reminds us that people are the reason. It's not just about the single customer, it's about their constituents, their families, and the generations to follow.

If you're ready to be make a difference in your community, start your data storytelling journey today.

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