Kamillah Tumakay, MPA

Associate Director, Campus Wellness Education


First day of work at San José State University

February 14, 2022

How did you get here? 

My journey started with my first job at 15 ½ working for Kentucky Fried Chicken. This experience set the humble beginnings of the following opportunities that continued to nurture my skills, passion, and values. I am first-gen and graduated from college here at SJSU as an undergrad in Health Sciences, and at that time I was also a Peer Health Educator, and a sister of Kappa Psi Epsilon, Beta Chapter. The connections with Staff and Faculty throughout that time led me to interning for Asian American Recovery Services where I facilitated Individual and Group level early intervention programming. My first big girl job after graduation was with Santa Clara County developing and implementing community mental health promotion and early intervention programming. There I learned the value of working with community leaders and turning to them as the experts. I then moved on to work for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation where I experienced public health programming that addressed more of the social inequities that communities were facing and worked to fight against health disparities. Here I am now- back where I started at SJSU- now in service to young adults and implementing public health programming in a University setting. All of my experiences both personal and professional led me to this role now where I can lead with lived experience, and be a steward of community health and well-being. 

Who were your role models or mentors?

My role models are my mom, dad, aunties, and uncles. I learned early on the values of hard work and not taking any opportunity for granted. My mentors always seemed to be strong women in leadership positions. At every organization that I’ve been a part of- I’ve had the privilege of being coached and mentored by women in power that have taught me lifelong lessons I still carry with me today. 

What are your tips for getting started in this field?

Do the hard work- not only in academics but out in the field and internally. Self reflection is key in exploring your own personal values and purpose. That information will help guide you along the way of figuring out what you’re meant to be doing. Research organizations or people that are aligned with your values, find the contact information of someone in charge, and reach out to them with authenticity, vision, contribution, and humility. There are many levels of Public Health- choose work that motivates and inspires you and that’s where you start. 

What are your most important habit(s) or resource(s) for staying well?

Self reflection, Lifelong learning, Connecting with others, Music, and most importantly Prayer :)