Undergraduate Student, Arts and Sciences, Double Major in Biology Neuroscience Track and Japanese; President, Heart for the Unhoused
As co-president of Heart for the Unhoused (HU), a student-run nonprofit that works to increase healthcare access for unhoused populations in St. Louis, junior Sophia Dutton has shown a passion for social justice that consistently goes beyond the responsibilities of her role.
“Sophia’s demeanor…with the unhoused population has been admirable. She is consistently kind, gentle and even humble,” said one of her co-nominators. Informed by her experiences growing up in Hawaii, Dutton approaches housing insecurity as a systemic issue and brings empathy to the forefront of her service.
Within Heart for the Unhoused, Sophia worked to improve training for members by increasing education related to issues of systemic racism and intersectionality. She worked directly with community members to gain a better understanding of St. Louis healthcare disparities and how Washington University students could help to reduce them. She has also dedicated herself to learning more about mental health resources in St. Louis, among many other issues related to access to care.
Sophia was already engaged with the inequities facing the St. Louis community by her first year at Washington University, but some of her most notable impacts were made once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Even though many HU members were spread out across the country, she spearheaded a project to disseminate information about symptoms, masking, locations of testing centers, and where to find available resources. Her team condenses the information into packets that were distributed at local organizations, shelters for the unhoused, health fairs, and elsewhere throughout the community.
Throughout her time at Washington University, Sophia has been described as a hands-on, empathetic leader who cares first and foremost about serving her community. She has also served as a Washington University Faith in the Vaccine Ambassador.
“One of my favorite things about Sophia is not only this passion, but how she goes about pursuing it,” one of her co-nominators said. “Sophia does not just discuss and share her passions verbally, but she backs them up by going into the community and pursuing them with action.”