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black students Archives - Tony Ward Studio

I’Mani Sellers: ExPENNtations

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Posted on May 14, 2015 by I’Mani Sellers

When Black students come to Penn, it is not an easy four years. There are many expectations put on students by their families, peers, and the outside world.  Though Penn has a “LOVE” statue on campus Black students rarely find love here on campus.

When coming into Penn, first most Black students do not expect to see many other students who look like them, while Penn is known for being diverse Black students only make up 7% of Penn’s population. Black students are combated with questions daily that question their character, and even why they are present on this campus. While being here at Penn, there are many that expect Black students to fail all their classes, be on academic probation, and eventually just drop out. When some people see Black students they only expect them to be athletes, students of other institutions or thieves and “thugs.” Black students have to struggle through these stereotypes for four years while also struggling for their diploma.

These same students also have the expectations of their families. Most Black students here at Penn are first generation college students so their parents see them as the precedent for their siblings and/or their communities. Parents try their hardest to help, and send their love, but not always being present has an effect on their children. These students want to make their parents proud and leave with the degree in the end, but it is hard because Penn is a very rigorous academic environment. Not only do these students want to get their degree, they want and have the expectations of getting a job and becoming successful so they can in turn, one day take care of their parents.

It is not all bad news for Black students here on Penn’s campus. There are places students can feel welcomed and loved. There are safe spaces here where students can feel like home again, and fellowship with the other students living out and combating various ExPENNtations.

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Photography and Text by I’Mani Sellers, Copyright 2015

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About the Author: I’Mani Sellers is a sophomore with a focus on the field of STEM,  College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017.