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Meet Our Scholars

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Jenna Smith

Duke University

Political Science



Wells Fargo Scholarship

Jenna grew up in an interfaith household in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. While growing up as one of few black and queer children in a predominantly white community, she often felt out of place in her environment. In her early years, she spoke at diversity conferences, unpacking the experience of navigating predominately white institutions. She soon identified public speaking as her preferred method of advocacy. Accordingly, after being diagnosed with Tourette’s in 2016, Jenna became a youth advocate for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. In 2018, she was selected as a Bioethics Scholar, conducting research on the environmental ethics of prison-construction in highly polluted areas, and exploring the meeting of ethics and policy. In 2019, she was selected for the Herlead Fellowship, where she became equipped with the tools to turn her passion for change-making into reality. She has honed her advocacy skills as captain of a nationally ranked Ethics Bowl Team, Mock Trial lawyer, and competitor in constitutional oratorical contests. From 2018 to 2020, she engaged politically as an intern on the Tom Malinowski for Congress Campaign, member of the Congressman’s Youth Advisory Council, and Governor of NJ Girls State. Throughout 2020-2021, she served as President of her school’s Community Service Committee and headed a Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) mentorship organization. Jenna will attend Duke University as a Robertson Scholar, aspiring to research human rights advocacy through the Kenan Institute for Ethics. She plans to obtain her JD, specialize in constitutional law, promote inclusive & comprehensive historical education, and pursue a career in public service. 

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