College of Charleston sophomore Jasmine Shabazz lives by the philosophy that every new endeavor is another opportunity to learn, grow and connect with others who can help her on her academic journey.
This approach helps explain why she participates – and excels – in so many different programs and activities across campus and far beyond. As a member of the Honors College and the William Aiken Fellows Society, Shabazz is pursuing a double-major in biology and public health with a minor in Spanish.
She is also a recipient of a Ketner Emerging Leaders Scholarship, a program established by businesswoman, community leader and philanthropist Linda Ketner, which provides financial assistance to students interested in women’s and gender studies as well as social justice, public service and civil leadership.
A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Shabazz says her goal is to channel her interests in social justice issues and science into a career as a physician.
“I plan to enroll in medical school and pursue an M.D./M.P.H. dual-degree program. I want to become a maternal-fetal specialist because of the health inequities that specifically impact Black-American and Latina mothers,” she says. “I also plan to pursue work in reproductive justice advocacy sometime in my career.”
It was her strong interest in health care inequities that prompted Shabazz to recently apply for and win acceptance to a prestigious leadership conference taking place at Harvard University this month. Hosted by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Public Policy and Leadership Conference is aimed at inspiring talented first- and second-year undergraduate students to pursue careers in public policy.
“I hope that this program will give me clarity on how I can bridge the gaps between medicine, public health and health policy as an aspiring physician,” she says.
While it’s hard to imagine how she fits anything else into her busy schedule, Shabazz has already taken advantage of two incredible study abroad opportunities at the College.
As a member of the South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation (SCAMP) program, a four-year enrichment program for minority students majoring in STEM fields, she took part in a First Year Experience course called International Health and Neuroscience, which took her to Copenhagen, Denmark, over spring break of her freshman year.
The summer following her freshman year, Shabazz was accepted into the prestigious U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Summer Institute program where she studied in London for three weeks.
“Many students can’t say that they’ve had an international experience during their first year of college, but I was extremely grateful to have received two,” she says. “CofC has really allowed for me to make the most of my education.”
When she’s not traveling or focusing on her coursework, Shabazz also serves as an officer and diversity liaison with the Student Government Association, working closely with other minority student leaders to help ensure their concerns and ideas are heard on campus.
Given her many interests and academic prowess, it’s not surprising that Shabazz has many admirers across campus. One of them is Kris De Welde, director and professor of Women’s and Gender Studies.
“Jasmine is an impressively visionary student who is committed to addressing inequities that arise from the intersections of health care, gender, race and social class,” De Welde says. “As a Ketner Emerging Leaders Scholar, she is engaged in campus and community activism, leading the way on a range of social justice issues that she cares deeply about. It is an honor to be considered among her mentors, and I know she will shine at the Harvard Public Policy and Leadership Conference. Jasmine is certainly among the best of our best in so many ways.”
By continually exploring new opportunities as part of her undergraduate experience Shabazz has proven that behind every door a new and potentially valuable connection awaits.
“The most important thing that the College has taught me is to apply to every opportunity that interests you because you never know who is going to start believing in you,” she says.