Zuri Kent-Smith

     Zuri is a rising senior at Pitt majoring in Africana Studies-Philosophy, a major he created to combine his majorinterests. During the spring semester of his first year, he was first introduced to the interdisciplinary nature of public health, as he worked in the School of Public Health as a researcher studying social networks of foster care LGBTQIA+ youth in Pittsburgh. During the summer following his sophomore year, he expanded his knowledge of public health, by participating in the Summer Public Health Scholars Program at Columbia University. There he interned for NYC Health + Hospitals, creating a cultural competence model for clinical and non-clinical staff to better accommodate LGBTQIA+, minority, and immigrant patients and patients with disabilities. Zuri also completed research on the relationship between private healthcare and cultural competence, culminating into a literature review titled, "The Destruction of Cultural Competence: How the privatization of healthcare is incompatible with the delivery of culturally-competent care." For this work, he earned a presentation award at the 2017 American Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Phoenix, Arizona. His researched deepened his understanding of the role that many forces play in deciding health outside of doctor’s visits, and is particularly interest in the built and natural environment of urban, Black and Brown communities.

     In his junior year he began working for the Pitt Climate and Global Change Research Center as a researcher, highlighting the detrimental effects of climate change and climate injustice on various vulnerable populations. Zuri also works as an organizer for NextGen America, a politically progressive organization aimed at mobilizing young voters around environmental and healthcare policy issues. In addition, he interned for State Representative Ed Gainey through the Institute of Politics, winning the Intern Award for his work inside and outside of the classroom. He also served as Executive Vice President for Student Government Board for the 2017-2018 academic year. During his time as EVP, he is most proud of serving on the Parran Hall renaming committee that ultimately voted in favor of changing the name, starting the first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and participating in the planning of the Inaugural Homewood Community Center Cookout.

     In his final summer as an undergraduate, he is interning at WE ACT for Environmental Justice in West Harlem. This was funded by the Honors College through the David C. Frederick Public Service Award and the OCC Mini Grant. Hisrole at WE ACT is to formulate an advocacy plan for their public housing policy recommendations and situate WE ACT’s work into the greater environmental justice and social justice movement, including reproductive justice, queer justice, criminal justice, and anti-capitalism.