Author: Kristy Crocetto, Administrative Assistant to Penn Alumni Regional Clubs
With the education crisis looming over Philadelphia, it is more difficult than ever for inner city high school students to obtain the resources and support to stand out during the college admissions process. For those hoping to attend Penn, however, there is an advantage available to bright young scholars local to the area.
The Mayor’s Scholarship has a long history at Penn, dating back 1882, when it was called the Board of Regents Scholarship. In 1910, another exchange between the City and the University took place out of a need to build strong workers and leaders in the Philadelphia area, and it became the Mayor’s Scholarship. Since then, Mayor’s Scholars have received an aid package that meets 100% of their financial need, as determined by Student Financial Services.
Last night marked a milestone for the Mayor’s Scholarship Program, as it was the first time alumni and current recipients were invited to mingle and network amongst each other. 80 participants gathered at E. Craig Sweeten Alumni House, including Coach Jerome Allen, Dr. Herman Beavers, and Pamela Edwards, where the energy and excitement was palpable. Students were excited to mingle with alumni and alumni were excited to learn about the newest endeavors of the program.
Guest speaker, Shakirah Simley, graduated C’07 with a BA in Anthropology (with honors) and Urban Studies. At Penn, she successfully advocated for the inclusion of a United States cross-cultural analysis requirement to the College curriculum and won a living wage and additional benefits for campus security guards at Penn and Temple, as the co-founder of Penn Student Labor Action Project.
Over the past seven years, Shakirah’s food career has led her to the Bay Area to Italy and back again. She has previously worked on nutrition and recreational equity policy issues, on youth organizing campaigns, and owned her own small-artisanal jam business.
Shakirah related to the students, encouraging them to connect with each other and build a strong community while at Penn. She also urged them to follow their gut, even if they are not sure which professional pathway to pursue. She emphasized the importance of cultivating inner strength and recognizing passion and talents from within.
Talent was certainly apparent as I spoke with some of the current Mayor’s Scholars and board members. Carlos Carmona, Vice President of High School Engagement, spoke passionately about reaching out to local high school students. This year the Mayors Scholarship Program helped local students fill out their applications to Penn and walked them through the application process. They also hosted an ice cream social during Quaker Days, in an effort to build a sense of community amongst this year’s recipients. The program has also identified mentors for the incoming students, so that they have someone to reach out to in those difficult first months of college life.
These types of events and support systems are expected to multiply as the Mayor’s Scholarship continues to progress from an exciting scholarship opportunity to an active student support program.
The current Mayor’s Scholarship Program Board (pictured) is as follows:
President: Betsy Modayil
Treasurer: Kelly Yao
Secretary: Brian Chau
VP Social Planning: Melanie Young
VP Mentor Development: Joe McCloskey
VPs Alumni Affairs, Internships, & Networking: Charlie Gress, Mia Garuccio
VP High School Engagement: Carlos Carmona
VP Educational Initiatives: Caitlin Weiss
For more information on the Mayor’s Scholarship visit: http://www.sfs.upenn.edu/mayors-scholarship/index.htm