Heidi Lee, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, has engaged in distinguished service and demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the educational opportunities and quality of life for students in the West Philadelphia community. Heidi's work to improve educational attainment and access to higher education for local high school students is motivated by her own experience as a first-generation college student. In the summer of 2016, she served as a mentor and teaching assistant, preparing college-bound students from West Philadelphia as they navigated the difficult transition from under-resourced high schools to college. She also researched and implemented a schoolyear program called Team ASAP at a local high school, providing support for students in the school's inaugural AP class. In addition to her research and work on educational access, Heidi has made significant contributions to the Penn community as an advocate of student service and engagement, including as a teaching assistant in two Academically Based Community Service courses. Heidi is an outstanding leader who has served as a role model for her peers at Penn, as well as the many high school students she has worked with in the West Philadelphia community. Her passion for service has inspired faculty, program supervisors, college peers, and high school students alike.
Community engagement with students in West Philadelphia is integral to my educational experience and success as a first-generation, low income student at Penn. I have worked primarily with high school students at Sayre High School and the extraordinary teachers there. I have worked with Sayre students and staff in order to implement Team ASAP (Academic Success in Advanced Placement) a student support group that focuses on the power of peer to peer networks that was developed through the Penn Program for Public Service; this experience led me to continue to build on my passion of community engagement and continue to be involved at Sayre and also as a teaching assistant for Academically-Based Community Services courses-lending my expertise onsite in schools to Penn students. My experiences and work are predicated on the expertise of teachers and faculty and relies on the belief that students in urban schools are agents of change and are leaders in their education as well.