JBS Member Karen Hamilton C'87

Q1 What’s your one sentence bio?
Loved by God, experienced communicator with a passion for people and for telling their stories and Philly-girl who delights in loving Dexter and the four Hamilton children well!

Q2 What was your experience as a student of color at Penn?

I commuted from my home in West Philadelphia, and initially encountered Penn through the lens of skeptical community residents who viewed the University as intrusive and dismissive of their concerns. I grew to embrace the school as someplace where my achievements as a student of color were the collective pride of not only my family and community, but people of color at Penn, from the housekeeping staff who encouraged me, to the staff who prayed for and with me, to the faculty who nurtured me personally as well as intellectually.

Q3 What activities were you involved in as a student?
I was very disconnected as a commuter student but participated as a writer for the Summer Daily Pennsylvanian.

Q4 JBS celebrates the history of diversity at Penn. Why is that important to you?
It is extremely important to me that students who are benefitting from the strides that have been made at Penn in the area of diversity appreciate the experience of the students who blazed the trail. I celebrate the JBS commitment to diversity because it makes the University community as a whole stronger, more vibrant, and more dynamic.

Q5 What excites you about Penn now?

Even as an alumna, staff member, and proud Penn parentx2, the thing that excites me most about Penn is how an institutional commitment to the community has become embedded in the DNA of so many of the students. I wish some of the community members I knew personally but who are now deceased and who experienced the less than favorable impact of Penn as a neighbor in the 60’s were around to see how much students and staff value giving their time and talent to the community.

Q6 How would you encourage alumni to get engaged or re-engage with Penn?
Come to anything: a show at Annenberg, a regional alumni event near your hometown, commencement. The excitement is contagious, and invokes pride in an institution that is not perfect, but does have so much to be proud of, as it evolves and grows. I would also encourage alumni - especially alumni of color - to become involved as Alumni Interviewers. Not only will you support Penn's access and inclusion goals by broadening the pool of applicants from various backgrounds, but you will be surprised at how learning about the caliber of students applying to Penn and how seeing the excitement for Penn through a prospective applicant's eyes boosts your own pride in the University. View Karen's LinkedIn