Alisa Ghura, University of Pennsylvania Class of 2023, came to Penn with the desire to make a positive difference. Through the Civic Scholars program, coordinated by the Civic House, Alisa began volunteering with HIAS Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia-based resettlement organization. This experience, coupled with coursework on urban inequities, motivated her to help create systemic change. Alisa joined Penn Leads the Vote (PLTV), a student-run, non-partisan program supported by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships that works to increase student voter engagement. She has led PLTV’s digital outreach, increasing their social media presence and working with external organizations to disseminate accurate voting information. In addition to making change on campus, Alisa has been actively engaged with the West Philadelphia community. Through the Netter Center’s Penn Program for Public Service summer internship, Alisa mentored high school students involved in a youth-powered nonprofit healthy food business. In the internship’s associated research seminar, she and two other interns proposed a program to supplement the writing instruction at a local underresourced high school, which they then implemented virtually during the academic year. In her short time at Penn thus far, Alisa has helped educate and empower students both on campus and in the local community.
Living in Philadelphia is one of the most vibrant aspects of my university experience, and I hope to give back to the Philadelphia community as much as it has given to me. For me this process has primarily manifested in my passion for education reform. In the summer after my first year of college, I worked with Philadelphia high schoolers while interning with the Penn Program for Public Service and learned about the disparities in education they face, particularly in writing. Writing is one of the most valuable skills in today’s society. It was shocking to me how few opportunities students have to improve their writing. In response, I along with two other students researched and designed a writing program which we now teach at a local high school and are working to expand. Throughout my time at Penn, in addition to working with high schoolers, I have enjoyed doing voter outreach with Penn Leads the Vote, volunteering with HIAS refugee resettlement agency, taking two academically based community service courses, and contemplating sustainable social impact with the Civic Scholars program and Netter Center Student Advisory Board.