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2021 High School Winners

Strengthening Global Health

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Alaina Smith

Mt. Lebanon High School Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Alaina Smith is a senior at Mount Lebanon High School in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. She plans to attend the College of William and Mary where she will study sociology and medicine  in order to meet her future career goal to work in public health policy. Alaina learned of the contest from an online search when it came up on a scholarship website. She was inspired to submit a video because she is interested in how global health relates to population growth. Of the three topics, Alaina chose to address Strengthening Global Health because she is passionate about women’s health and advocacy. The contest was an opportunity for her to tackle her interest in both topics while also addressing the connection to population growth. Prior to creating the video, Alaina learned about the impact of population growth in her AP environmental class. “I learned a lot more about how global health affects population growth and what global strategy we should use to mitigate population growth,” she shares. What surprised Alaina as she dug deep in her research, is “how high maternal mortality is globally.” Regarding maternal mortality rates she adds, “I knew about this issue among Black women in the U.S but I didn’t know how severe the problem is globally, or about what solutions we have and how effective they are if implemented correctly.”

This was Alaina’s first experience with filmmaking. She wanted to use animation in her video because she “enjoyed working with that art form and being able to illustrate all the graphics in that way.” Alaina found it challenging to convey her information in video form and to condense it all into one minute. Alaina has won an award for an essay she wrote on the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She advises future contest participants to write on a topic they’re passionate about because it will make the research and video formatting process easier. For next year’s contest, Alaina recommends linking climate change to a specific global issue as a possible topic.

In her free time, Alaina plays volleyball and is a member of GirlGov, an organization that helps young women learn about advocacy, run by The Women and Girls Foundation of Pittsburg. She also works on many local political campaigns and is a part-time barista at Starbucks. She is a captain of the team “Relay for Life” and they raise money for the American Cancer Society. Alaina shared that her parents inspire her the most because of how caring and supportive they are and how they carry themselves in the world. She also has a pet bunny named Moe!

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