Senior Reflections: Erich

Erich Kessel Jr.

Major: History of Art


Erich, Art History Major, Class of 2016.

One of my favorite memories at Penn was working on behalf of the queer community as Chair of Lambda. It was an honor to represent many of our interests alongside other minority coalitions leaders. We worked on faculty diversity, queer safety in Greek life, advocacy through SHS and SFS, and greater intra-Lambda unity and communication. Most of all, what was more memorable was receiving feedback, opinions and ideas about how to make Lambda a more effective entity on campus. Those were instrumental in teaching me how to work alongside varying groups with distinct interests and goals, and that’s something I’ll cherish for a long time.

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Senior Reflections: Jane

Jane S. Wu, C’16

Major: Earth Science

It took me a long time to get to a place where I felt comfortable living my queerness, even at Penn. I remember breaking down in Becca’s office at the LGBT Center during my sophomore year because my mother had asked and I had been honest about my relationship with a woman. In the context of a first generation immigrant Chinese family with one child to live up to a host of expectations and a lifetime of sacrifice, that’s scary. When Penn Queer and Asian (Q&A) was founded, I think I finally found a space where I could fully process my feelings with people who have lived through similar narratives. Now I’m working on continuing to pass on the love and support that I’ve received. A Q&A friend and I are even in the works on a film project on the experiences of queer Asian youth. We want to reach people who are struggling with their identities with these stories maybe in the hope that we can help them find peace with their own narratives, but if not at the very least let them know that they are not alone.

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Senior Reflections: Eliana

Eliana Yankelev, C’16

Major: Health and Societies

Eliana (left), HSOC Major, Class of 2016.

In the summers of 2014 and 2015, I was able to represent PATH and Penn Athletics at the Nike LGBT Sports Summit. My friend, mentor, and Penn/PATH alumna Anna Aagenes was hugely instrumental in my involvement with LGBT sports advocacy and I was able to lead the college athlete group in workshops on how to start LGBT athlete groups on campus, how to find support at your institutions LGBT center, and how to create administrative relationships in athletic departments. I was able to meet all of the wonderful out athletes who were competing at all levels, from high school to the pros. I felt immensely proud to lead PATH, the first ever collegiate LGBT athlete group, in a time where dozens and dozens of competitive athletes were beginning to come out.

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Senior Reflections: Chikezie

Chikezie, C’16

Major: Sociology

Chikezie, Sociology Major, Class of 2016.

I’m not sure if I have a single favorite queer memory, maybe when I volunteered for the Philadelphia love run with Carriage – the camaraderie and friendship that I saw exhibited then was just amazing. Almost any time spent with Carriage was great, because it is a space in which I can be myself completely without judgement or fear, and I think everyone should be able to experience that, without necessarily being in an organization like carriage, but by surrounding themselves with awesome people who care about them unconditionally.

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Senior Reflections: Scott

As we congratulate the Class of 2016, we as Lambda want to take some time highlight some members of the community and their favorite queer memories during their time at Penn.


Scott, C’16

Major: Philosophy

Scott, Philosophy Major, Class of 2016.

At the beginning of this semester, the Queer Christian Fellowship partnered with QMAP and J-Bagel to host an interfaith dinner. It was amazing to see so many people from different backgrounds sharing their lives with each other! I love the queer community at Penn because it’s so diverse but everyone is really supportive.

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Information about Lambda Board Positions for 2015

Please see the following information sheet to learn about opportunities to get involved with Penn’s Lambda Alliance for the coming year.

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Meet: Andre, Nursing ’16

Check out this profile, the latest in Lambda’s “Faces of Penn” series. 

Here, we speak to Andre, a Junior studying Nursing and leader of the Queer Christian Fellowship, a new group on campus

Andre Rosario, Penn junior in the Nursing school.

1. What activities do you involve yourself in on campus? 

Queer Christian Fellowship, Harnwell College House as an RA, Penn Band, Organization of Student Nursing Research, Student Nurses at Penn

2. Describe your queer experience at Penn in 5 words. 

Reflective, always changing, open, supported

3. What’s your favorite coffee spot near campus? 

I do like the Starbucks under Commons when it’s not crowded, and I have a love-hate thing for Capogiro.

4. Thus far, what’s been the best part of the queer community at Penn?

Penn’s LGBT Center connects you to a lot of opportunities. Each year, they sponsor a few students to attend the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference, and I was able to go last year. Also, the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program offers many thought-provoking classes that have made me see things in a different way.

5. What’s your favorite thing to do in Philly?

I enjoy walking around, looking through cool shops, and checking out different restaurants. Really, I like doing a lot of things as long as I don’t have to carry my bookbag with me like I usually have to do when I’m working around campus!

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Meet: Jameel, SAS ’17

Lambda had a chance to get in touch with a current Penn sophomore and aspiring designer named Jameel Mohammed. Check it out below.

1. What activities do you participate in at Penn?

I’m a member of Penn Parliamentary Debate, a performing member of Penn Singers and Social Director for Queer Students Alliance. I also work on campus at the LGBT Center. 

Jameel in Penn’s Perelman Quadrangle.

2. Describe your Penn queer experience.

I’d say it’s been pretty good. The community can be a bit fractured at times but I’ve felt very accepted. There’s an immediate connection that was really nice to find coming into Penn and it’s allowed me to form new friendships and meet new people the whole year through.

3. What’s the best coffee on campus?
I’m partial to a Starbucks iced espresso shot at around 2 am.

4. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
It’s so varied that I don’t really know how to answer! I like to go where the weekend takes me.

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Meet: Eliana, SAS ’16

Lambda will feature brief interviews with some cool people from Penn’s queer community. Read below to find out how they get involved on and off campus and what they do to relax amidst the energy of Penn.

Here we speak to Eliana, Chair of PATH and a Junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

1. What activities do you participate in at Penn?

In addition to running on Penn’s Varsity Track and Field Team, I am the Executive Director of Penn Athletes and Allies Tackling Homophobia (PATH), Penn’s LGBTQ+ athlete advocacy and affinity group. I also serve as the Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a group of Varsity athletes working to make Penn Athletics a better organization overall. You’ll find me at Lambda Alliance meetings, J-Bagel Events, and working towards my degree in Health and Societies.

2. Describe your Penn queer experience.

Eliana, pictured left.

I immediately found a wonderful group of LGBTQ+ people in the class of 2016 who were passionate about queer activism, Penn, and learning. The sheer amount of undergraduate (and graduate) queer groups at Penn helped me understand how diverse our LGBTQ+ population is. At the start of my first semester, upperclassmen helped us meet new people and get involved with group leadership right off the bat. I have grown to be more comfortable and proud of my identity since starting at Penn and I attribute that to great friends and the open-mindedness of our campus and city.

3. What’s the best coffee on campus?

Oof. I am that person who has made it halfway through college without drinking a single cup of coffee. But my favorite burrito is the chicken and sweet potato burrito at Honest Tom’s. Homemade guacamole and twelve kinds of hot sauce.

4. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends? When I’m not traveling with my team to competitions, I love the free music scene Philly has to offer, especially in the late summer and early fall. There are a ton of concert venues here right next to great food and views.

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Meet: Stephen, SEAS ’15

As school starts back up again, Lambda will feature brief interviews with some cool people from Penn’s queer community. Read below to find out how they get involved on and off campus and what they do to relax amidst the energy of Penn.

Here, we speak with Stephen, a rising senior in the Engineering school.

1. What activities do you participate in at Penn?

Queer People of Color, Philly AIDS Thrift, Engineers Without Borders, Carriage Senior Society, Hexagon Senior Society, Sphinx Senior Society

2. Describe your Penn queer experience.

Stephen, in stylish white overalls from his job at Philly AIDS Thrift.

I’d be lying if I said my Penn queer experience started when I got to Penn. It started way before when I had visited during previews. Straight up// it took three and a half minutes on Locust to be swept up and taken in by the QPOC mothas. It took another three and a half months over the summer and into my first semester to realize the queer community was large enough to keep me hype, but could never truly meet all of my expectations. And it’s taken three and half years to see that there are people at Penn, in and out of the queer community, who damn well try to transcend those expectations and create spaces for those who need them.

Still, my queer experience is hardly limited to Penn and it would be reductive to dismiss the opportunities Philly has to offer the queer scene, especially 4 people of color and other marginalized homies. Penn’s cultural houses work with each other to offer intersectional students support and encouragement for collaboration. Because of that I’ve never had to subscribe to any sort of “gay experience” at Penn. Penn is getting queerer with each incoming class (thank you bbs) and that’s only going to create more challenging spaces and make the old ones more engaging.

3.What’s the best coffee on campus?

Earth Cup. They have a lovely seating situation outside that’s ideal for sipping local roasts and throwing local shade.

4. What’s your favorite thing to do on weekends?

You can probably find me off of South Street at Philly AIDS Thrift on weekends digging through piles of vintage and other stuff. South Street is a kitschy part of the city, complete with metal heads, eccentric grannies, and oversized pizza. I mean, there’s nothing better.

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