John is a Givebutter Changemaker - an elite group of young movers and shakers around the world that inspire those around them to give back through the incredible work that they do for others. Learn more about Changemakers.
My name is John Forester and I am a Junior at UCLA studying Anthropology. I am originally from Modesto, CA in the Central Valley. I love traveling and taking adventures in the outdoors. Over summer, I work at Foothill Horizons Summer Camp. I have been going to this summer camp for ten years and it is by far my favorite place in the world. It has brought my siblings and I much closer, and has given me some of my best friends in the entire world. I am also the Director of Greek Relations for the Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA. Coming into UCLA, I knew very little about HIV/AIDS. But after participating in a 26-hour dance-a-thon my freshmen year for pediatric AIDS, I began to grow extremely passionate about the cause and I'm devoted to ending mother-to-child transmission and destroying the stigma surrounding the disease. I am also the Vice President of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, a member of Mentorship which serves children in the UCLA area, and Director of Marketing for WAZO, which is a non-profit think-tank at UCLA focused on tackling the problems surrounding UCLA and the community. My group in WAZO is focusing on treating depression among students. I also love coffee and documentaries.
What is the cause and/or organization that you are most passionate about?
Pediatric AIDS Coalition.
Tell us more about your involvement with this cause or organization.
I am most passionate about pediatric HIV/AIDS. My freshmen year, I signed up to participate in a 26 hour Dance Marathon for pediatric HIV/AIDS. I came into college very uneducated on the subject of HIV/AIDS and signed up to dance because it sounded like a lot of fun for a good cause. At Dance Marathon around 4 AM, there is a vigil where children who are either infected or affect by HIV go on stage infant of hundreds of UCLA students and tell their story and how the disease effects their lives. There is also an education segment in addition to the testimonial segment during the vigil. Here I learn the shocking facts of the disease and was shown how little people care about it now. Many people still view it as a “disease of the 80s” yet 700 babies a day are born HIV positive. After this experience at Dance Marathon, I came into Sophomore year wanting to join the Pediatric AIDS Coalition more than anything else. Luckily, I was accepted and became a Dancer Captain and was in charge of over 100 people fundraising before the event and ensuring their fun and safety during Dance Marathon last year. Now I am the Director of Greek Relations and have my own six person committee. We meet at least twice a week and are focusing on more education-base outreach to all sorts of fraternities and sororities at UCLA. We are also trying to at least double the participation of Greek Life at Dance Marathon this coming spring. Together, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition is working to create an AIDS-free generation.
Tell us about yourself.
I am current a Junior at UCLA studying Political Science. My concentration is in International Relations and I am picking up a minor in Cognitive Science. If you were to know only two things about me, it is that I work at a summer camp and I'm apart of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition. I have been going to the same summer camp for 10 years now and it is by far my favorite place in the entire world. Some of my biggest role models were counselors when was a little kid. It has provided me with some of my best friends and given me invaluable skills and experiences. I am also the Director of Greek Relations for the Pediatric AIDS Coalition. Everyday 400 children are born HIV positive even though mother-to-child transmission is completely preventable. Everyone in the Pediatric AIDS Coalition is very driven to wiping out the disease and eliminating the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. Through fundraising and educating, we will create an AIDS-free generation.
Who in your life most inspires you and why?
My dad inspires me the most. He also went to UCLA back in the day and was an incredibly driven and active student. He currently runs his own nonprofit where they give healthcare to the uninsured in our county. He has an amazing work ethic and makes a big difference in his community. He also gives back and donates a lot of the money that he does make. He has taught me important life lessons in life and I hope to be more like him.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right" -Henry Ford
What is your greatest achievement to date?
One of my personal greatest achievements was getting hired to work at my summer camp. It had been a dream job of mine since my first week of summer camp back in 2008. The way that the rest of the 20 person staff and I are able to effect kids within five short days is incredible. Without summer camp, I would not be the person I am today. I have learned invaluable skills from summer camp and hope to give back to camp what I have gotten out of it.
Describe yourself in three words.
Groovy groovy groovy.
What does giving mean to you?
Giving means making a difference. Whether you are giving your time, talent or treasure, you are giving to make a difference in the world. You are taking active steps to improve your community or the world at large.