Meet the Civic ScholarsClass of 2018
Class of 2019
Class of 2020
Class of 2021


Alana Adams

More information to come soon


Jordan Andrews

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, MI

Civic engagement interests: From my sophomore through senior years of high school, I led bi-annual Bridge the Divide leadership retreats, bringing together participant schools from around metro-Detroit in activities for social change. As president of my school's community engagement organization, I worked with Toys for Tots, SOS Soup Kitchen, the American Red Cross, and other organizations to run drives and awareness events. Most of my outreach work was with the Salvation Army's tutoring project and Clark Park Detroit, as I have particular interests in primary education and after-school programming. I am also passionate about penal reform, and here in Pennsylvania, I am an advocate for PA Lifers, Inc. Currently, I work as an academic tutor at Mighty Writers in South Philly and serve as a member of the Francophone Community Partnership with Lea Elementary School.

How do you hope to impact the world?: Another one of my passions is immigration reform. I believe the increasing interconnectedness of our world necessitates greater cross-cultural understanding and compassion. I hope to use a professional career in public policy to help overhaul the way immigration laws are formed and perceived. My experience working with Freedom House (a service-provider for refugees, immigrants, and asylum-seekers) inspired me to also pursue intergovernmental work through ambassadorship in West African nations.


Rachel Baum

Hometown: Long Island, New York

Civic engagement interests: I had the opportunity to work closely with various populations in my community throughout high school. I was an English teacher and then Program Director for a local non-profit, El Centro Comunitario de EducaciĆ³n.  Around the same time, I was a teacher's assistant and social justice advocate for GO Project NYC, a non-profit organization that offers educational and emotional support for NYC students.  At Penn, I am a tutor for the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project (WPTP).

How do you hope to impact the world? I am hoping that in the next four years, I become well-acquainted with the West Philadelphia community so I will have the experience, skills and responsible motivation to effect sustainable change where it is called for by community members.


Catherine DePaola

Hometown: Scotch Plains, NJ

Civic engagement interests: I have always been interested in educational and racial disparities, and I have recently become interested in issues involving U.S. incarceration. Through Civic Scholars, I volunteer at Why Not Prosper, an organization in Philadelphia that provides formerly incarcerated women with support to help them transition back into everyday life. This is an organization that I hope to work with for many more years. Additionally at Penn, I am part of PennPals and NAP.

How do you hope to impact the world? As a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, I am very passionate about the economical and health issues, among others, that Native Americans face. This is an issue to which I will dedicate a large part of my life.


Noa Jett

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Civic engagement interests: My passions are education, coexistence, racial/economic justice, and gun control. I am an Urban Studies major with a potential double major/minor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. Before Penn, I was involved youth mentoring and had several internships in municipal government. On my gap year, I taught English in a coexistence elementary school (where Jews and Arabs learned together). It was an inspiring experience that has encouraged me to explore further opportunities with youth and peace initiatives.


Jenna Liu

Hometown: Columbia, Missouri

Major: Philosophy, Politics and Economics 

Civic engagement interests: My interests lie primarily in criminal justice and education reform, with a particular focus on how law and policy affect those issues. I also served on my city's Commission on Human Rights (HRC), as well as the Youth Advisory Council. As a member of the HRC, I was able to tackle cases involving Ban the Box policies and disability law, which reinforced my goal to become an attorney and fight for civil and human rights through the legal system. At Penn, I have explored these interests via Penn Association for Gender Equity and Penn Democrats. I am also a member of MUSE Community Service Consulting, a marketing group that provides pro-bono consulting to nonprofit organizations.

How do you hope to impact the world? My mission is uphold the tenets of empathy and justice, while always seeking opportunities to create social change. In addition to working in law, one of my main passions is political engagement; I hope to one day have a role in creating policy and guiding government action champions acceptance and respect for all our neighbors.


Natasha Menon

Hometown: Arizona

Civic engagement interests: My civic engagement in high school consisted of working for the Arizona Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, being president of our high school's Students for Social Action organization, and leading my Youth and Government delegation's model Congress. I am from Arizona, and as such, I am really interested in immigration and education policy. At Penn, I tutor students weekly at Moder Patshala, a tutoring center for Bengali immigrants and refugees and am taking courses that will hopefully help me be more informed about the issues I care about the most.

How do you hope to impact the world? I hope one day to pursue a career in law and public policy so that I can work to change institutionalized policies to help those who are negatively and disproportionally affected.


Yareqzy Munoz

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Civic engagement interests: I became a catechist and taught religious education to a group of 15 students every Saturday; I did this for four years. Here at Penn, I was thrilled to get back to teaching children. I am now a tutor at Moder Patshala: a learning center for Bangladeshi families. I am also a Community Partner Liaison at Civic House. As the chair of recruitment and admissions for the Latinx Coalition, I hope to reach Latinx in northern and southern Philadelphia with college readiness programs. Civic engagement is important to me because it is the most tangible step to dismantling oppressive systems.

Ton Nguyen

Hometown: Jonesboro, Georgia

Civic engagement interests: My passions are addressing education inequity, healthcare reform, international relations, and helping the socioeconomically disadvantaged. These issues drive me to be civically engaged in the Philadelphia community by tutoring at Moder Patshala and studying social justice issues in depth. I also work to raise awareness and unity within the Asian-American community as well as to provide support and research in the first-generation, low-income college student community.

How do you hope to impact the world? I hope to continue this work and impact the social fabric of our world.


John Ortega

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Civic engagement interests: I am involved with at Penn include iCARE, a mentorship club that works with adopted children from Asia, the Penn Newman Catholic Community, and the Penn Philippine Association. I volunteer at Lea Elementary School where I tutor ESL students through the Riepe Mentors program. I am also engaged at Why Not Prosper, an organization that provides programs and services for formerly incarcerated women. There, I help the residents craft resumes and apply for jobs.

How do you hope to impact the world? I hope to share in friendship by forming strong and lasting relationships with those with whom I interact through my civic engagement. I desire to share in my knowledge and talents and, in turn, learn from others to foster community wherever I go.


Mark Pino

Hometown: Linwood, NJ

Civic engagement interests: Before I came to Penn, I was primarily involved with LGBTQ and anti-bullying activism. After experiencing bullying in high school, I sought to change the culture of my school. I reached out to the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network for help, and together we worked to create a Gay-Straight Alliance in my school. I grew more involved with the Central NJ GLSEN chapter and eventually became a student coordinator of the student run leadership team. We wrote LGBTQ inclusive curriculum and lobbied for inclusive curriculum in NJ Common Core Curriculum. I moved to work with GLSEN National as a Student Ambassador, and on a team of 15 students, we designed and marketed LGBTQ resources, anti-bullying materials, and days of action. I am engaged in the Penn Community with Civic House, Wharton Alliance, and 180 Degrees Consulting. My community partner is Mighty Writers to help bring writing aid to students in the South Philadelphia area.