Tabitha Willis studies Medical Anthropology and Biology at Ohio State University. Growing up in the south side of Chicago with 12 other family members, her father was the sole breadwinner of the household and worked three jobs just to make ends meet. Due to an audio processing disorder and other learning difficulties, she attended over 10 schools as educational institutions weren’t adequately equipped to help her unique learning needs. Yet, her father inspired a love of science, converting the living room into a second ‘classroom’ at night after working long hours to ensure she did not fall behind, but rather excel in her studies.
The recipient of multiple scholarships and academic prizes, Tabitha has campaigned for STEM inclusivity on local and global scales through different media to increase the diversity in STEM careers and especially empower women of color.
As a Champion for the Disney Dreamers Academy program with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine she has worked to empower, inspire and motivate teens from across the country through mentoring with celebrity guests and co-hosting the Disney Dreamers Academy in Disney World.
Facing struggles as a black woman in STEM, she has strived to create opportunities for those who come after her by working with the Malala Fund as one of 24 trailblazers in different fields in her 2022 anthology release of stories to empower young women from across the world. Tabitha was hand selected by Malala and her team for her story of resilience and drive to help others.
As a member of the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps Tabitha helped promote mental health resources in communities of color by working to break down stigma in minority underfunded schools and providing windows to support services.
And, as a co-founder of ServUS Volunteering, winner of $50,000 in startup funds from the President’s Buckeye Accelerator, Tabitha has been developing a platform to connect non-profits with undergraduate students who want to engage in service to increase the social good of non-profits and create professional development for students.
As the leader of Pay it Forward Tabitha has also addressed food insecurity, environmental sustainability and educational access by coordinating and sending over 3,000 volunteers to service sites across Columbus Ohio while coordinating food drives, and mentoring organizations in constructing their own service initiatives.
She was also a founding member of Amplify Chicago which was a joint effort between ten teens from across the largest science institutions in Chicago to address the large gaps in getting minorities involved in STEM from across Chicago.
Moreover, she has also been developing a new tech platform that seeks to innovate how people engage in social good by becoming a network for volunteering, giving, community organizing and networking to make change that will be launched later this year in the fall.
She dreams of a multifaceted interdisciplinary future where she is a physician, a bestselling author, an advocate and a persevering change maker.