Afia Brago Adu–Gyamfi (C ’17)
Transferred from: Mount Holyoke College
Afia traveled from her home in Ghana, Africa, to attend Mount Holyoke Women’s College. She knew Mt. Holyoke's curriculum would be “geared towards empowering women,” but she ultimately chose the school because of its reputation and a generous scholarship offer. Afia, who is pursuing a degree in neuroscience, recalls that there was a lot of encouragement to do well and grow as a woman in a science career. However, she admits, “A lot of my classes didn’t make an effort to tie the idea of empowering women into the way that they taught.”
Afia finds new freedom in a co–ed environment; she feels glad to escape “the bubble” of Mt. Holyoke. She says she feels more determined to pull her own weight in tough classes at Penn and not “just depend on the comfortability of being with all women.” She also appreciates the break from "peacocking" — a term Mt. Holyoke women used when men visitied classes and felt special and "majestic" in an all–female setting.
She says that Penn teaches all students, regardless of gender, about the worth of women. The message Penn sends, she says, is "Hey, these are the women in our community, and this is what we can do to make sure people are recognizing them for who they are and their abilities, not just their biology.”
Kiri Baga (C ’17)
Transferred from: Simmons College
Kiri didn't know what to expect when she started at a female–only college. She didn’t attend Simmons because it was a single–sex environment — she feels as if the gender breakdown “didn’t [inform] [her] expectations of the school itself.” Instead, she went to Simmons because she loved Boston and wanted to interact with a diverse college–aged population. Kiri was a figure skater and spent most of her time at Simmons College with her life being “dictated by a sport.” Here at Penn, she is a BBB major in the College, the former Transfer Student Organization (TSO) president and a member of the APO service fraternity, which she describes as “the friendliest community of people.”
While the women’s college environment facilitated discussion about gender equality, Kiri feels as the same conversations happen more effectively in a co–ed space because both sides of the conflict are there to respond. “Penn is a really great community where we get to have those conversations as well," Kiri remarks. She admires Penn’s empowering community, because of the numerous students who stand in solidarity for meaningful causes and for its ability to talk about these difficult issues that plague society. Kiri marched for women’s rights this past Saturday in Boston with her friends and was excited by the fact the march was not just in D.C, but that it was “huge all over the world.”
Sara Robicheau (W ’19)
Transferred from: Mount Holyoke College
When Sara was being recruited to Mount Holyoke College to play volleyball, her interest in visiting the campus was minimal. She thought to herself, “An all–girls school? No way I’m going there.” Once she actually visited the school, though, she says she “believed in everything the school stood for.”
However, Sara's experience at Mt. Holyoke differed from her expectations. "The athletes were not respected in the way the athletes are more respected at Penn,” Sara says. She also emphasizes how her female peers—who were very focused on academic and clubs—viewed playing a sport as a waste of time.
Sara felt like she was held back socially in the female–only environment; there wasn't much to do on weekends, and she enjoys having male friends. Originally, she says, “I used to think the reason I should go to college is to get an education not for the social life.” After she transferred to Penn, she realized she can have both in a co–ed environment. At Penn, Sara believes that there are the outlets for women to come together discuss the important issue of gender rights if “that’s what you’re looking for,” while at Mt. Holyoke “that was the only choice.”
She thinks that studying at Mt. Holyoke better prepared her to take on Wharton. “Even though I just spent a year there, if I would’ve been in Wharton straight out of high school, I don’t think I would have the confidence I do now," she says.