Exploring Urban Education

Abdul-Rakeem Yakubu, COL ’23. Mooresville, NC

Coming into the summer, my main goal was to get more in person experience with k12 students and develop my independent project for the year. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 spiking again this summer I wasn’t able to get much face-to-face with students but I was able to interact with some students on Zoom and a few in person. My days involved heading into the Arch building to Makuu with Dr. Brian Peterson to discuss research ideas or talk to students about the hopes for their future education. On Zoom I helped out with Penn’s Bridge to Math program which helps incoming students gain confidence in their math skills and enables them to hit the ground running in the Fall semester. These students were involved in Penn summer programs or just touring the campus and ranged in age from current high schoolers to incoming college first-years. These interactions supplied me with the much-needed info to fuel my exploratory questions for my independent project.

Regardless of COVID-19 setbacks, I’ve been able to gain a lot of insight into my true passions for education. By talking with all these students and Dr. Peterson I was able to center my project on a central theme of the minority pipeline to professional school. The main questions I want to probe into include: Why do minority students mainly pursue only certain professions? How can we increase access and knowledge for minority students in order for them to pursue other professions such as dentistry, veterinary sciences, etc? How can Penn help increase this pipeline? These questions during the next school will be explored deeper hopefully with a group of my peers and can be transformed into a large effort in the form of an ABCs course.

I’m very glad I had the chance this summer to really dig into the motivations for my project and learn from Dr. Peterson the important parts of forming an education project. I also had time to explore the work done in this field from primary literature, other professors on campus, and researching existing bridge programs. By talking with him and observing his own work in the field I know for sure I will start the academic year on the right foot with great strides.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services