A Catalyst for Change: Introduction

  1. Hello everyone! My name is Selam Gillett, and I am a sophomore studying Psychology and Sociology pursuing a certificate in Global Health. Outside of my classes, I serve as the executive secretary for the Black Action Society as well as a Diversity and Inclusion Committee member for the Student Government Board. I work as a Pathfinder for the Office of Admissions, and I am a part-time team member in Dr. Thomas Akiva’s lab working on the Generator Z project. I enjoy trying new restaurants and attending the numerous amounts of cultural festivals around the city.

As an African American woman, I have always been fascinated with the developmental processes that impact how I view race and racism in our society. This past spring semester I had the opportunity to be a directed research student in Dr. Banale’s Cambiar (Challenging Oppressive Actions and Structures Towards Marginalized Communities in Academia and Research) Collective Lab. Her lab examines adolescents’ critical racial consciousness development, or how youth develop beliefs, feelings, and behaviors that challenge racism. As a directed research student, I had the opportunity to conduct a literature review that focused on how black adolescent youth explain the causes of racial disparity in their various environments. Through this project I gained valuable experience that manifested into my proposal for the 2021 Chancellors Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship.

As a student interested in the medical field, I knew that this fellowship would allow me to pursue my passion of understanding the intersections between race and science through an educational lense. I have also been looking for opportunities to be more engaged in the community around Pitt’s campus and continue the fight for social injustices. My mentor Dr. Jennifer Cousins is an Intro to Psychology Professor who works with numerous students to pursue their research projects. Dr. Cousins has been an incredible resource and guide through this fellowship from teaching me how to navigate Canvas as an educator to providing crucial review of my education modules.

This internship will allow me to expand my knowledge on equitable educational practices within the Intro to Psychology course. Through this internship I hope Intro to psych students will build their critical consciousness by being introduced to how the field of Psychology has upheld racism throughout history and what critical steps must be taken to dismantle the racist ideologies for the future. I also plan on emphasizing critical reflection through self-reflection response questions at the multiple points through the semester. My goal for this internship is to provide students with the necessary tools to begin the conversation and implement different ways for students to take individual action towards promoting anti-racism work in the field of psychology

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