Rebecca Smith

Health Reporter

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.

Ways to Connect

Michaela Tucker
KBIA

“This is crazy.”

The words of 10-year-old Elena Hoffman seemed to echo the sentiment of many of the partygoers at Ragtag Cinema’s election night watch party on November 8.

The party, which was billed as a bi-partisan gathering, drew mostly Clinton-supporters. Attendees could spend their evening waiting for results at either the bar, the large theater that aired CNN coverage or the small theater that aired the PBS telecast.

Tracy Lane, the executive director of Ragtag, estimated that nearly 200 people were in attendance by 8 p.m.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The University of Missouri System announced Wednesday its next president will be Mun Y. Choi, current provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut. The announcement was made at an event in Jefferson City. According to a release from the University of Missouri System, Choi will begin work on March 1, 2017.

Pamela Henrickson, the chair of the Board of Curators, introduced Choi. She called him a “superb leader,” and praised his commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

About 1,300 people toed the starting line this past weekend for the 8th annual Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival Half Marathon and 10K. According to Patrick Hanson, the race director, participation was up 12 percent this year. 

As of the September 30, a relatively unknown herbal supplement called kratom will likely join the ranks of Schedule 1 drugs in the U.S. - alongside drugs like heroin, LSD and marijuana.

This supplement has been traditionally used in Southeast Asia, but has recently gained popularity in the United States as a way to manage opioid withdrawal or chronic pain without the use of prescription medications.

Researchers and people using the herb decry the DEA’s move to criminalize it, which they say will stall research and deprive many Americans of a presumably harmless substitute to stronger prescription painkillers.


29-year-old Zach Heath was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on Christmas Eve last year. His response was to bury himself in his basement with a PlayStation 4 and Call of Duty. 

“[I] just shot people in video games for about eight hours, and that was how I kind of released my frustration,” he says.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On a late Friday in June, Charley Joe Dill casually smokes a cigarette outside the Retroplex skating rink in Saint Robert, Missouri. He stands back a bit from the door, but people still flock to him - stopping to say “Hi” on their way in.

While spending a summer night at the skating rink isn’t anything too unusual in rural Missouri, this particular skate night is special – it’s part of the Pulaski County Pride festival.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Kristin Metcalf-Wilson said the activist in her couldn’t help leading cheers of “What do we want? Access. When do we want it? Always.” with those gathered Monday at Glenn’s Café to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Hellerstedt.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

In April the US Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] released new guidelines about the use of criminal records when denying or terminating a housing agreement.

To find out more about the new guidelines and what it could mean for Columbia residents, Rebecca Smith, from the KBIA Health and Wealth desk, sat down with Phil Steinhaus, the CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Tiffany Seda-Addington has been fighting for expanded access to naloxone for nearly three years. Ever since her best friend James Carmack died of a heroin overdose at his mother’s house.

“When James died,” Tiffany said. “It was immediately we have to do something.”

That “something” that she and others in Pulaski County, Missouri, decided to fight for was expanded access to naloxone, also known as Narcan. It’s the opioid overdose antidote that essentially brings a person dying from a heroin or opioid overdose back to life.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

The Coalition of Graduate Workers, a union representing MU graduate student employees, filed a lawsuit against the University Of Missouri Board Of Curators on Wednesday.   

The Coalition is suing to have graduate students classified as employees and to have the Coalition of Graduate Workers be recognized as the collective bargaining representative for MU graduate student employees.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A U.S. District Judge has ruled in favor of the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic – issuing a permanent injunction that protects the clinic’s license to perform abortions.

In her ruling on Wednesday, US District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted a permanent injunction to the clinic, therefore preventing the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services [DHSS] from revoking the clinic’s license.

Laughrey wrote that the department likely bowed to political pressure and unfairly revoked the clinic's license compared to how other facilities’ licenses are handled.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Graduate students at the University of Missouri have voted in favor of the Coalition of Graduate Workers as their official collective bargaining agent.

This movement toward unionization began months ago, in August 2015, when MU unexpectedly announced it would be eliminating health insurance subsides for graduate students.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

On November 9, 2015, following an intense few weeks of student protests on Mizzou’s campus and the resignation of UM System President Tim Wolfe earlier the same day, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped up to a podium in front of  the Board of Curators and the journalists gathered.

“I have decided today that I will transition from the role of chancellor of Missouri effective at the end of this year and move into a new role where I will work with many people across the system to advance our research mission,” Loftin said.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Dozens of people gathered in support of Brian Treece at Broadway Brewery on Tuesday night. They gathered to eat, talk and watch the votes for mayor being tallied.

Treece said he believed they ran a great campaign effort and brought together many volunteers who had never volunteered with a campaign before.

“They say campaigns are the ultimate team sport and I thought we put together a great team,” Treece said.

Treece said they knew it would be a close vote, so he and his supporters, friends and family gathered to wait and see what the final verdict would be.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

In stories about premature birth and premature babies you might have heard the term NICU? But what exactly is a NICU and what goes on there?

To find out, KBIA visited the NICU, or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital here in Columbia.


Ryan Famuliner, Nathan Lawrence

Last November MU was rocked by protests led by African American student group Concerned Student 1950. The group of 11 students captured campus attention with its message that university administrators were not doing enough to address racism on campus.

Carolyn Allred

Being born prematurely has many immediate consequences for infants – difficulty breathing, bleeding in the brain, and other issues that can affect long-term development. So if being born preterm affects young children post infancy, does it still affect people as they near adolescence?

Jacob Allred was born extremely premature at 25 weeks and 5 days weighing just one pound, 13 ounces. He is now 12 years old, and still struggles with health issues both physical and developmental that are a result of his premature birth.

His parents, Carolyn and Vince, have been on the “roller coaster” of prematurity since the day Jacob was born - one step forward followed by five steps back. They are being constantly surprised by new issues that arise, but, at 12, things are going well and they are all looking forward to Jake’s future. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Premature Birth affects about one in 10 infants in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pre-term birth is a major factor in infant mortality and is also one of the leading causes of long-term neurological disabilities in children.

There is a huge range of potential outcomes for premature infants and no two babies have the same trajectory – just like the Mondy twins.

Cauy and Skylee were born at just 24 weeks and one day. Cauy weighed one pound, six ounces and Skylee weighed one pound, five ounces. Though they started life at the exact same place, Skylee with practically no repercussions from their premature birth while complications have left Cauy with a cerebral palsy diagnosis. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

We’ve all seen the stories: "Premature baby goes home after spending 100-something days in the hospital," but what happens next? Do babies born pre-term end up just like their full-term counterparts or are there lasting health complications resulting from prematurity?

To explore this questions, I spoke with David Beversdorf and his son William, a four-year-old that was born at 22 weeks and one day and weighed just one pound, three ounces. William was considered extremely premature, and is one of the youngest babies to have survived their birth and their time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Premature birth is a problem throughout the nation including here in Missouri. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2014, it affected about 1 in 10 infants.

Rebecca Smith, from the KBIA Health and Wealth Desk, sat down with Trina Ragain, the State Director of Program Services for the Missouri March of Dimes to discuss the problem.


Rebecca Smith

Nearly 100 runners and walkers came together Saturday morning for the annual True Life Run during the True/False Film Festival Weekend. The proceeds from the 5k went toward the True Life Fund that is presented to a film protagonist each year, and this year’s recipient was Sonita.

Patrick Henson, one of the race organizers, said he estimates the 5k raised about $3500 this year.

During the event I spoke with runners, walkers, volunteers and those gathered in support of the participants.


It's a Wrap: True/False in Review

Mar 7, 2016
Ashley Reese / KBIA

The 13th True/False film festival brought new and interesting films from far and near to the city of Columbia once again this year. Last week, art installations filled the streets, large, colorful “Q” signs started appearing outside downtown businesses, and Columbia seemed much more crowded. The words on everyone's lips seemed to be “documentary.”  


Manu Gerosa

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest. Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes. 

The documentary "Between Sisters" is an intimate glimpse into the life of two aging sisters as they confront a family secret that has remained hidden for more than 60 years. A secret that could rock the sister’s relationship to its very core.


Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year's True/False Film Fest. Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes. 

The film "Sonita" follows the life of a young, passionate Afghani refugee living in Tehran, Iran, who dreams of becoming a rapper, but faces many challenges – including her status as an undocumented immigrant living in Iran and her mother’s plan to sell her as a child bride worth $9,000.


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