When Lah’Nasia Shider (C '23) caught her first glimpse of the Penn campus as a high school senior, she couldn’t wait to explore everything that the University and Philadelphia had to offer. Now, Lah’Nasia has found her place as a mentor on and off campus. As a leader of Students for Students, she tutors and mentors Philadelphia youth who have been affected by the juvenile justice system. When she’s not leading tours for Kite and Key or welcoming students at the Admissions Visitors Center, she also runs a YouTube channel for high schoolers who are navigating the college application process. Her videos share milestones of her college experience, from move–in day to her semester abroad in London to the last first day of classes. Whether speaking with prospective students, mentoring current ones, or simply recommending her favorite place to eat near campus, Lah’Nasia is eager to use her experience to help younger people find their way.
Name: Lah’Nasia Shider
Hometown: Mays Landing, New Jersey
Minor: Urban Education with a concentration in Policy, Research, and Practice
How did you get involved with Students for Students?
Freshman year I was super interested in joining a lot of different clubs, because my high school didn’t have a lot of clubs, so it was nice coming to a school like Penn that had hundreds of clubs. I joined [Students for Students] freshman year, and I really, really loved it. We would drive every Tuesday to this evening reporting center in North Philly, and we’d mentor the students. We’d talk about different things like budgeting, goals, and how do you like to spend your time. [We would] just connect with them and talk with them. I really, really enjoyed it, so I kept on doing that for four years. Previously I was the finance chair. Then senior year, I’m like, 'I’ll take the next step and be co–executive director.' I really enjoyed it, and it's been such an impactful club. It made me excited to go to the reporting center every Tuesday and talk to the students there.
Your other activities involve talking to students who are interested in Penn. What drew you to this school in the first place?
The first thing that drew me to Penn was the fact that we didn’t have to declare a major until spring of sophomore year. I am super indecisive. I was like, ‘I cannot declare my major right now. I would not know what to put.’ So I liked that I had until sophomore year to decide. Additionally, when I came and visited Penn, I just loved the vibe. I don’t know how else to describe it. People were on College Green throwing frisbees, hanging out, and having picnics. It literally was like a movie scene. I was like, ‘No way these people are real. They are not this happy here.’ It just made me excited about Penn.
Also just being in Philly and being able to do literally everything. Everything is here.
On the other end of that, what is it like talking to students now who are thinking about Penn?
I tell them what drew me to Penn and the things that I have grown to love about Penn: different resources, different opportunities, like study abroad. I love just talking to them and seeing what their interests are and referring them to resources at Penn or things that they might enjoy if they choose to come here.
Tell us about your YouTube channel.
When I was applying to college, I relied so much on YouTube for everything to get a sense of what the student life was like at these different schools that I was looking at. YouTube was such a big resource for me. I knew that once I got to college, I wanted to pay it forward and do the same thing and be like the YouTubers that I watched when I was going through this process. That’s what I’ve been trying to do: making videos about Penn and sharing my experiences and resources that I wish I knew about when I was a freshman or when I was applying. I was able to log some different aspects of my life at Penn, specifically going abroad. I really love the idea of knowing that in 50 years, 40 years, however many years, I can Google myself and watch my memories from being at Penn and in college. Also, my memory is really bad, so that’s also why it’s beneficial to have memories of my last first day of classes, for instance.
So many of your activities revolve around mentorship. Can you reflect on what mentorship means to you?
I think it’s very valuable [to have] someone who’s been through what you’re going through who can provide advice, provide feedback, and help guide you. [It's] something that I’m glad that I had when I was a freshman at Penn. As a senior, now I’m trying to help freshmen in different clubs that I’m in. In the long run, in the next few years, I’d love to work in campus recruiting continuing that guidance, helping college students find jobs, and seeing where their interests lie.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I really love trying different places to eat. Coming into college, I was kind of a picky eater. I didn’t really explore much. But since being here, I’ve tried so many different cuisines. I recently tried Ethiopian food with one of my roommates, and it was so good—I highly recommend trying it. [I like] just experimenting with different things, trying to get out of the Penn bubble, whether that be taking walks down the Schuylkill, or to Rittenhouse.
The other day when it was super nice, I got out of class, and I was like, 'I’m going to go on a walk by myself and I’m going to enjoy it.' And I did.
As a senior looking back on your college experience, is there a particular moment that stands out?
I’ve been thinking about this for a while because someone asked me this recently. I would probably say my favorite memory at Penn was Hey Day last year. It was such a fun time, seeing people that I haven’t seen in a while and walking down Locust with our canes. It was funny because when I posted my pictures on Instagram, my friends who go to other schools were like, 'What’s this cane day thing you have?' So explaining Hey Day to them, it was so much fun. I wish I could go back in time and redo Hey Day.
What’s next for you after Penn?
I actually just got a job. I’m going to be working in HR at UBS doing a rotation program there.
Favorite food spot near campus? Goldie.
Favorite movie? High School Musical Three. It makes me cry.
Where do you feel most at home on campus? The Admissions Visitors Center. That’s where I work, and I’ve spent so much time there that my peers and the admissions officers have really become like a family.
Which building on campus are you and why? I would say Levin. There are so many different aspects and shapes and I feel like that represents me because I’m very all over the place. It keeps you on your toes when you’re looking at it.
There are two types of people at Penn … People who study in Huntsman and people who don’t.
And you are? I don’t study in Huntsman.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.