Following EFS, Shahirah attended Miss Porter’s School, a boarding and day school located in Farmington Connecticut, where she held leadership roles in multiple diversity activities and co-founded a multicultural media-discussion group. While a student, she travelled to Deschapelles, Haiti for a service trip, volunteering at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. As a senior, Shahirah was one of two winners of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations for her outstanding work to advance the cause of race relations in her school community.
After high school, Shahirah attended Amherst College where she received a John Woodruff Simpson Fellowship and graduated with a double major in biology and psychology. She continued her studies in trauma-informed care at Drexel University and received her Master of Public Health degree. After graduation, she researched as a Samuel S. Fels Fellow for the Philadelphia Hoarding Task Force. This February, Neighbourhood Amenities and Depressive Symptoms in Urban-Dwelling Older Adults, co-authored by Shahirah, was published in the Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health.
Shahirah is back in Buffalo working as an Outreach and Education Specialist with Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, teaching sexual and reproductive health with ethnic-specific resiliency strategies to youth and adult groups. This summer, she is heading to East Africa to study Afro-centric, promotion-focused health messaging as a 2017 Global Youth Ambassador. The program centers on a three- to four-week learning exchange with a Planned Parenthood Federation partner organization in Africa with the goal of connecting young health professionals with global leaders and experts from different cultures. The program supports sexual and reproductive rights advocacy and education and will culminate in a Buffalo-based service delivery project aimed at youth empowerment for underserved communities and linkage to non-judgmental health care services.
Aligning with her research and community interests, Shahirah also participates in Yogis in Service Teacher Training. The YISTT program was developed in partnership with a research team at the University at Buffalo to provide effective training in trauma-informed, inclusive yoga.
Looking back on her time at Elmwood Franklin, Shahirah fondly remembers, “concerts with Mrs. Peterson, expressing our choreography and re-starting songs during concerts when she knew we could perform better. Also, I really enjoyed Colonial Day with Mrs. McGennis and learning poetry with Mrs. Gordon.”