Most weeknights this fall, Louis has rehearsal with the Front Row Theater Company. The Front Row Theater Company, along with seven other groups, is part of the Theater Arts Council at Penn. Company members perform socially relevant theater to bring greater awareness to important social issues. Members are also tightly connected to the Penn community as the in-house theater program for Harrison College House. Members live together on two floors of the high-rise building and perform two of their four productions in Harrison’s Rooftop Lounge.
Louis was a master carpenter for his high school plays and while he continues this work on set for the Front Row Theater Company, he has also branched out into performance roles. Louis starred in the Company’s production of Yellow Face written by playwright David Henry Hwang. The play touches on issues of race, representation, and immigration in America, which are important issues to Louis from an academic and personal perspective.
Louis is the Professional Development Chair for Penn First, a first-generation, low-income (FGLI) group that supports all students and acts as advocates on campus. His role is wide-ranging: Louis is involved with everything from career-preparation to increasing global opportunities for FGLI students to building a mentorship community with FGLI alumni. Louis’ advocacy work allows him to establish relationships with administrators like Valerie De Cruz, the director of the Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC), one of six cultural resource centers on campus.
Penn hosted 1vyG, the largest conference for FGLI students across the globe, in Winter 2018. Louis oversaw administrative programming for the event and, together with the rest of the leadership team, brought at least 100 administrators and 450 students to campus. Following 1vyG, Louis wrote a 130-page guide that covers best practices to support FGLI students on campus, starting with the admissions process through the creation of alumni networks and post-graduation opportunities.
Penn is committed to supporting both first-generation and low-income college students in their pursuit of higher education. We have multiple support systems on campus such as the FirstGeneration, Low Income (FGLI) program which began in 2016. Students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college, or who come from low-income families, receive guidance regarding their academic, personal, and social needs while providing a close-knit sense of community. Additionally, student-led organizations such as Penn First provide support through mentorship programs and social events.
Louis’ academic journey – majors in health and societies and political science with minors in Asian-American studies and environmental studies – reflect his deeply rooted interests in equity, activism, and public policy. A College of Arts and Sciences student, Louis takes classes across the University, including in the Wharton School, Penn Nursing, and the Graduate School of Education. Louis credits access in higher education expert, Dr. Laura Perna’s, course Access and Choice in American Higher Education with shaping his understanding of higher education, specifically from a national and historical perspective.
Louis’ interests are also influenced by former Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Dr. Hikaru Kozuma’s, course Asian American Activism and Organization. Dr. Kozuma and his students explored representation of Asian American role models and studied the history of Asian American activism, which informs the work of the next generation of community activists, a group with which Louis identifies.
The College of Arts & Sciences is the heart of all the Penn programs. Spanning more than 50 majors and 2,000+ courses, the College offers a unique take on the classic liberal arts education.
To complement his coursework, Louis pursues his interest in public policy during the school year and through summer internships. At the end of his freshman year, Louis applied for and was accepted to the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative as a Public Policy Research Scholar. As part of this multidisciplinary certificate program, Louis will concentrate on educational policy while taking classes in statistics and economic and political analysis. Looking ahead, Louis will complete a capstone project that demonstrates his expertise in this area.
Moreover, during the summer before his junior year, Louis interned at the Office of the Chief Council in the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration. In this setting, Louis became more familiar with how federal agencies work. He continues to work remotely with this office as a management and program analyst. Louis’ interactions with his colleagues and the functions of this office allow him to see how policy influences larger communities.
The Wharton Public Policy Initiative (Wharton PPI) is a hub for public policy research and education with one overarching goal across its Philadelphia and Washington, DC offices: to leverage the University’s resources to foster better-informed policymaking on issues related to business and the economy.