Justin is a prospective Africana Studies major and Computer Science minor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to West Philadelphia, he was involved in serving communities in and around his high school, located right outside of the city. At Lower Merion High School, Justin helped to start a brand new organization that encourages more students of color to enroll in Computer Science courses by introducing them to the field in a fun and engaging way. He also served as a peer writing tutor and, with other members of his church, participated in different types of community service projects in the Philadelphia area.
Justin is a poet, rapper, and producer who creates and records his own original work. Some of the content included in his music and poetry is based on research and invites dialogue about African American history and heritage. One example of this is a four-minute song he wrote and produced about the realities of black history and heritage, synthesizing information from the books “Stamped” (by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds) and “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation” (by Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton). In addition to reading these books, his research also involved listening to the albums “Let’s Get Free” (by Dead Prez) and “360 Degrees of Power” (by Sister Soulja) as well as visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary and the Johnson House Historic Site (a historical landmark of the underground railroad) in Philadelphia. Justin has a passion for combining multiple forms of research and creativity to engage and inform.
One reason that Justin decided to apply to the SNF Paideia Fellowship Program is because of its mission to promote dialogue across difference. He would like to translate the knowledge and research of this academic program into useful tools that will help him continue to serve his local community and solve pressing problems. He hopes that the SNF Paideia Fellows Program will help him bridge the gap between theory and practice, allowing him to apply his expertise to real-world situations.