Brittany Ochoa- Nordstrum is a student, researcher, and activist. Her current work focuses on medical racism and maternal mortality in African American women in Milwaukee. She was elected to serve on the board of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, and has organized marches, demonstrations, and fundraisers to benefit marginalized communities in the city. After time away, Brittany, a Milwaukee native, decided to move back to this community she cares about and felt she could have a bigger impact on.
What are you most proud of? "I'm not sure that proud is the right word, but what I'm happiest with, is the new path I've embarked on in the last few years. I started college in 2007 right at 18 and had no idea what I wanted to do. I dabbled in different areas, but nothing ever stuck. After getting involved in community organizing, I found myself thinking more critically about injustices that plague our community and wanted to find a way to promote change. I wanted to be able to explain the things that I'm passionate about, from an educated perspective, which I know is an absolute privilege. I am lucky to be able to be a life-time student. I found myself back in school, perusing a degree in sociology with an emphasis on social injustice and women's and gender studies. I'm now applying to Ph.D. programs in Sociology and Public Policy across the country in hopes of a Fall 2021 admission. I am happy that I found myself here. I guess I'm proud of that too."
Is there something you’ve stopped doing/caring about at this time?
"I used to be really consumed with what people thought of me. I have always been outspoken, but sometimes I was afraid to speak my truth. As a woman of color in this current political climate, I find it necessary to exercise my voice. I always want to engage in civil discourse, but I also want to challenge people. If it makes you uncomfortable that I'm confronting racist/ableist/ignorance, then ok let's talk about it. I used to be so worried to ruffle feathers and have people get mad at me. But I've learned that if you're mad at anyone that is trying to help you learn to be empathetic and anti-racist, then I can absolutely let go. Speak up, have those conversations. Confront ignorance and learn to grow from there with an open mind. I've also learned to let go of pride. I am more than capable of being wrong. If I'm saying or doing something wrong, I want to know and I want to know right away so that I can work to correct it."
What’s your favorite thing about (or place in) Milwaukee? "I really do love this city. There are so many amazing people putting in work. I used to think I needed to move to a bigger city to find more like-minded people, and I did that when I moved to Manhattan. Ultimately, I ended up back here and I'm happy to be back. This city is capable of much more than a lot of us give it credit for. The people are what make this community amazing. From artists like Zed Kenzo who is real as hell to an inclusive space like Cactus club ran by Kelsey Kaufman-we are so lucky in Milwaukee to have folks who care. I'm loving seeing so many businesses take a stance and put people over profit, like George and Myrica from Company Brewing. I love knowing that the places I support, support the things that I (and many of us) care about. I'm beyond happy to know so many friends, musicians, business owners, and activists who are working tirelessly to make our community inclusive and tolerant, especially in this really difficult time."
You can find Brittany on Instagram @britania