Anea Moore, C’19, tears up when you ask her about being named a Rhodes Scholar. Not because she’s anything but thrilled about the opportunity—as a first-generation, low-income student, she’s beyond excited to continue her education at Oxford University this fall. She’s crying because of the third-graders she mentors at the Henry C. Lea Elementary School, and how much she’ll miss them once she crosses the Atlantic.
Becoming closely involved with a West Philadelphia school wasn’t originally in Anea’s game plan. In fact, she wasn’t even sure she wanted to make community service a priority when she first arrived at Penn.
“I remember watching my peers run for student government, form new clubs, or excel at sports, and I felt like I was doing nothing,” Anea says. “In my freshman dorm, I met several classmates who were taking a course called Music and Social Change, through the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships, that gave you the opportunity to engage with local schools. After I enrolled, I knew I had found my calling.”
Since freshman year, Anea has walked the seven blocks west of campus several times a week to Lea Elementary, where she teaches choir and serves as the assistant family engagement coordinator—a position created just for her.
Today the Netter Center, which operates a variety of programs aimed at serving West Philadelphia and beyond, is a second home to Anea. She acts as one of the Center’s civic development interns, serves as chair of its student advisory board, and works as a teaching assistant in addition to her commitment to Lea. Although she has volunteered hundreds of service hours, the sociology and urban studies major insists that she has gained much more than she has given.
“Students at Penn often have the mindset that they need to be the most successful or do the next big thing,” Anea says. “But it is tremendously important to also step outside of yourself and form a genuine connection with someone who is traveling a different path than you—it is a monumental experience that you can’t find in the classroom.”