University of Tennessee, Knoxville | Knoxville, TN
Haslam College of Business
Bachelor of Science in Public Administration, Minor in Political Science
Introductory Business Courses
Intermediate Micro & Macroeconomics (ECON 311/312 - UTK)
Economics Public Finance Expenditure Analysis (ECON 471 - UTK)
Public Budgeting (POLS 441 - UTK)
Public Finance: Taxation and Fiscal Federalism (ECON 472 - UTK)
Business Law (BLAW 301 - UTK)
Photoshop | Visual & Oral Communication | Microsoft Suite | Website & Graphic Design | Budgeting
Honors & Awards
Kappa Alpha Psi National Collegiate Student of the Year, Second Place
Kappa Alpha Psi South Central Province Undergraduate Brother of the Year 2018-2019
Kappa Alpha Psi South Central Province Undergraduate Brother of the Month (December 2018)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Chapter, Social Activist Award (2016-2017 - UTK)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville,Division of Student Life Rising Leader of the Year (2017 - UTK)
Leadership Knoxville Scholars (UTK)
Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society (UTK)
Nashville Civitan Finalist Award (Nashville)
Work Experience & Involvement
Jones Center for Leadership & Service Senior intern
May 2019 - Present
The Jones Center for Leadership and Service is dedicated to facilitating meaningful experiences that exposes students to diverse cultures through community involvement in a broad array of activities that extend learning, foster leadership skills, and promote civic responsibility. We strive to promote a culture of inclusion and a community where diverse opinions, backgrounds, and practices have the opportunity to be voiced, heard, and respected. We are a welcoming, safe, affirming, and nurturing environment based upon cherishing the dignity of each individual. As an office, we celebrate individuals who represent different groups as defined by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, age, disability, national origin and religion.
Pre-College Mentor - Project Grad Knoxville
May 2019 - June 2019
Project GRAD’s Summer Institute hones urban high school students’ academic skills in preparation for demanding college level courses, and exposes them to career paths they can pursue through post-secondary education. This Institute is part of a larger effort, Project GRAD, or Graduation Really Achieves Dreams, a K-12 program based on the recognition that early intervention can keep economically and academically disadvantaged kids motivated and focused on their academic future. The project started in 2001. In the most recent year, the Institute involved 11 graduate teaching assistants, eight faculty members from multiple disciplines, six educators representing three different school districts, 145 high school students, and 12 pre-college mentors.
Knox County Democratic Party Canvasser
October 2019 - November 2018
Through my experience with the Knox County Democratic Party (KCDP), I had the opportunity to campaign for multiple campaign including Tennessee state Senate and House races inside and outside of my district.
Responsibilities included several door to door operations and phone banking focusing on education and engaging voters with the 2018 midterm election. Additionally, I worked to build relationships with potential voters and provide any information they may need regarding voter registration, polling locations, and general election information.
Daily Beacon Opinions Columnist
August 2018 - May 2019
The Daily Beacon is the campus newspaper serving the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and its surrounding community. The paper is editorially independent and is entirely written, produced and managed by students. The Daily Beacon is published Mondays and Thursdays during the fall and spring academic terms; plus content is published daily on our website, www.utdailybeacon.com. The paper is free of charge and is mainly supported by advertising.
My column is called Getting Out There. Getting Out There addresses both and leadership fundamentals and theories that are effective for college students, but more importantly, how we can apply them in our civic engagements and issues affecting our communities. Readers can expect to be challenged. Challenged on our values, how we lead, and our involvements.
“The intersectionality between politics, civic engagement and leadership are strong. While my goal is to foster civic engagement within our campus community, I have no doubt that the leadership theories and ideas covered here will be something you can take beyond our campus and carry out in your life after college.”
Works with The Daily Beacon
Opinions Columnist (2018-2019)
The Student Political Alliance Founder
May 2016 - Present
The Student Political Alliance is a non-partisan, student-run public issues & idea based forum, founded on the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The mission of the Student Political Alliance is to educate students in ideas, theories, and how to engage in civil discourse; to provide avenues for civic engagement; and to empower citizens to create a social impact in their communities.
Our vision is a world where we are empowering the future generation of leaders to engage in civil discourse, civic engagement, and social impact.
Through their mission, the Student Political Alliance hosts speakers, panels, and debates through civil discussion that allows students to understand different perspectives about the issues and ideas that affect our world.
Work with the Student Political Alliance can be found at www.studentpoliticalalliance.org.
Tennessee General Assembly Legislative Intern (Representative Pat Marsh)
January 2018 - May 2018
The Tennessee General Assembly (TNGA) is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is a part-time bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Speaker of the Senate carries the additional title and office of Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee. In addition to passing a budget for state government plus other legislation, the General Assembly appoints three state officers specified by the state constitution. It is also the initiating body in any process to amend the state's constitution.
As a legislative intern, I was able to organize and track press releases, op-eds, floor statements, and committee meetings for Representative Pat Marsh, research issues resulting in the passage of House Bill 1831/2 dealing with combating the opioid crisis in Tennessee, and assist in the preparation and organization of weekly Business and Utilities committee meetings .
Projects - Tennessee Opioid Crisis
During my time as legislative intern with the Tennessee General Assembly, i tracked the progression of two House Bills dealing with ways to address the Tennessee opioid crisis. Extensive research was done on the history, causality, and prevention of opioids in the state of Tennessee. Full report can be found here.
For acknowledgment of internship responsibilities, please view HJR1127.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, UTK Chapter
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
Political Action Chair (2016-2017)
Diligently seek to increase registration and voting. #OurVotesMatter. We work for the enactment of municipal, state and federal legislation designed to improve the educational, political and economic status of minority groups
Seek to increase registration and voting through voter registration drives with organizations including but not limited to the Student Government Association, College of Democrats and Republicans, and the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy
Work for the enactment of municipal, state and federal legislation designed to improve the educational, political and economic status of minority groups by advocating through numerous events and programming
Seek the repeal of racially discriminatory legislation
Work to improve the administration of justice and equal enforcement of the law
Encourage the work of nonpartisanship within the organization and in the community
Vice President (2017-2018)
Oversee 5+ committees with members ranging from 15-25 students
Organize and carry out annual NAACP awards banquet
Create annual NAACP Executive retreat curriculum consisting of team builders, leadership workshops, and self assessments
Executed and chair Annual Black Issues Conference with attendees over 500
Represented organization on all official matters, general meetings with members, and campus administration meetings
The Family Justice Center of Knoxville Intern - 2017 - 2019
The mission of the Family Justice Center is to provide victims of domestic violence with a single location to access advocacy and other services necessary to build a future of choice, safety, and opportunity. Main projects Mustafa worked on was creating a financial literacy seminar that could be presented to victims of domestic violence
National Walkout Day : Protesting in Modern Day America
A LOOK INTO THE RIGHTS OF PROTESTING, PUNISHMENT, AND BRINGING ABOUT POLITICAL CHANGE
Written by Mustafa Ali-Smith
Across the country on Wednesday, March 14th, several students participated in National Walkout Day. The walkout was scheduled for 10 am, and lasted approximately seventeen minutes for each individual murdered during the Stoneman-Douglass High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The purpose of the walkout was to serve two facets: to pay respects to those lost in the shooting, and just as important, to push lawmakers to pursue gun reform.
Although we saw several schools who participated in this movement, there were several other schools and school systems in opposition to it. Some believe that children have no say so in the concerns surrounding the debate on gun control as it relates to our school systems, and if they decide to protest, they should be punished. In addition to this opposition, there are statements of whether or not the actions of protesting will bring about positive political change.
When looking at the issue of gun violence in our school systems and actively protesting these issues, one must question the potential consequences of protesting and whether or not they are justifiable. To help us better understand the issues surrounding this cause, we need to look at multiple aspects in this matter: the effectiveness of protesting, our rights and potential consequences for students as it relates to protesting, then lastly, examine the relevancy for our youth to be active in protest in efforts to produce political change.
Protesting. Rights. And Punishment
Before determining whether or not punishment to students is applicable, it is necessary to understand the reasoning behind the actions of protesting.
A study conducted by economists at Harvard University and Stockholm University identified that protests have a significant impact on politics and policy. Their research provided that protests do not necessarily work in the idea that the large crowds, demanding action for a cause, will send notice to policy makers, however, protests gets citizens politically activated.
Protests have served as the cornerstone for inspiration of social change and human rights advancement — they were meant to progressively define and safeguard civic spaces around the world. These protests are seen to encourage, develop, and strengthen representative democracies. In addition, they may initialize direct engagement in public affairs within society. Between individuals and groups, ideas, views, and opinions are shared in hopes to bring about political change.
In essence, protests can thrusts issues on the national and global agenda. It can force out tyrants. It can activate people. It can generate lasting positive change when mobilized in effort and determination.
The right to protest is a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. constitution. The right is contained in both the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly — protecting the platform to verbalize protest, engage in symbolic speech such as signs, and arrange peaceful marches.
Now if we are looking at the paragraphs above for the foundation of protesting and circumstances of National Walkout Day and what students participated in, it should be obvious that freedom of speech and assembly is not breaking the law, so is punishment for these actions necessary and why are we doing so?
It is time to talk about punishment and National Walkout Day. Because our rights to the freedom of speech and assembly are covered by the 1st Amendment, it strikes me that there where actions of punishment taken against the students participating in National Walkout Day. In some instances, teachers insisted on ‘corporal punishment’.
Other schools threatened to discipline students in other, harsher, ways according to their standards of punishment — such as suspension or detention — if they left school property for Wednesday’s National School Walkout; however, most schools do not generally suspend students for an unexcused absence.
According to American Civil Liberties Union, schools have the authority to punish its students most school policies do vary by state; however, the schools may not inflict ‘harsher’ punishments onto the students that they normally would not do.
"Because the law in most places requires students to go to school, schools can discipline you for missing class. But what they can’t do is discipline you more harshly because of the political nature of or the message behind your action." — ACLU
Regardless of the the many suspension threats to “acts of disobedience,” many students still decided to walkout, weighing the cost of suspension and the lives of kids’ that have already been lost.
“A day of suspension out of school versus all of the kids’ lives that have been lost. So, we all thought it was 100% worth it.”
In instances such as this one, where your rights are governed and covered by the U.S. constitution, it’s evident that ‘harsher’ punishments are not necessary and entirely unacceptable.
Protesting — Relevancy
Protesting issues, such as gun control in this case, can often times get a bad reputation. In some instances, you may have individuals who don’t completely understand the impact that a protest can make as outlined above.
One of the positions some teachers and authorities took against students was the lack of knowledge that they had towards the situation of gun control, leaving them essentially unequipped with tackling this issue.
It is important to consider that our youth will set the foundation for the future, and empowering them now to be change makers plays a critical part in the future of America. National Walkout Day did in fact accomplish something — it got people talking about it. Instead of labeling it as irrelevant, it created a platform for issues, such as gun control, to be brought in the school systems. Debates, forums, and speakers — all possible outcomes that can stem from this movement to create educational opportunities for students.
By not seeking to understand the importance of movements & protests like National Walkout Day, we indirectly label ourselves as ignorant to the issue. In contrast, if week seek to understand how useful the actions of movements & protests may be, and the potential opportunity to transition the discussion into our classrooms, we have a greater chance of political change.
A Call to Action — Bringing about Political Change
Regardless of what society may think, protesting is effective and a useful tool in bringing about political change in America. To rewrite the narrative and push onward we must continue to remember why we want to be a catalyst of change in the issues that shape our world.
According to Eric Liu’s TED-ED, How to Turn Protest Into Powerful Change, political change is achieved through three actions: expanding the frame of the possible, choosing a defining fight, and finding an early win.
Expanding the Frame of the Possible.
People often try to define the boundaries of our civic imagination by determining whether or not things are possible. We should try to push those boundaries outward. Simply asking the question of “what if?” is the first step in transforming protesting into political change.
Choosing a Defining Fight.
Politics is viewed as a contrast in ideas, and few of us think about civil life in the abstract. We must set the term of the contrast by thinking of a debate we want to have on our terms over an issue that captures the essence of a change we want.
Finding an Early Win.
An early win, even if not as ambitious as the ultimate goal, will create momentum, thus changing what people believe is possible. This sets, in motion, a positive feedback look. This can be done in a multitude of ways — talking to policy makers, using the media to change narratives (such as this platform), making arguments in public, and just having conversation with others.
#NationalWalkoutDay moved through all steps of the actions above. It expanded the frame of the possible by moving the narrative that students can, and will be, active advocates in the issues that effect them. It chose a defining fight that set the conversation on their terms by walking out of the schools in which they attend, addressing lawmakers to pursue gun reform, and serving as a memorial for those lost in the shooting. It found an early win by sparking discussion, insisting a change of narrative across media platforms, and initiating the start of furthering the conversation on gun control.
We must continue to have the passion to pursue issues like these. Only then may we start to see political change, changing narratives, and the Redesign of America.