Penn Arts & Sciences Pathways

A new video series puts the spotlight on undergraduates.

Spring/Summer 2019
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Pathways is a new video series from Penn Arts & Sciences that highlights the academic journeys of students in the College of Arts & Sciences and the transformational moments that sometimes shape their intellectual experiences.

The first two students featured, Colin Lodewick, C’19, and India Allen, C’21, describe how their paths took a turn soon after arriving at Penn.

Colin Lodewick, C'19

Photo Credit: Alexander Derrick

Allen originally planned to follow a pre-med curriculum, but during her first year, she was inspired by an Academically Based Community Service course called Healthy Schools, taught by Mary Summers, a lecturer in Political Science and Senior Fellow in the Fox Leadership Program. The class, which included service-learning projects in West Philadelphia schools, as well as analysis of health and educational inequalities, pointed Allen toward a major in Health and Societies. Through her placement at Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary School, she also discovered a love for working with kids and decided to do an urban education minor.

With a growing proficiency in French, which she has studied for more than five years, Allen volunteers as a tutor with the African Community Learning Program, a nonprofit organization that offers support to people of African backgrounds in West Philadelphia.

“I feel that if I’m making the world a better place—even if it’s just for one person—then that’s my definition of success,” Allen says.

A first-year course also proved transformative for Lodewick. In his case it was an introductory creative writing class with Julia Bloch, director of Penn’s Creative Writing Program, who praised one of his early written assignments and is now his advisor.

Lodewick had arrived at Penn intending to study environmental science but slowly realized he wasn’t passionate about it. Instead, he found himself increasingly drawn to literature courses, including a semester-long course on the works of John Milton with Melissa Sanchez, Associate Professor of English.

“I think people don’t see English study as a way of solving problems, but in a lot of ways it is,” Lodewick says. “Or, it’s not necessarily about solving problems but identifying problems, and identifying arguments and contradictions and nuances, and understanding them.” He will graduate this spring.