Portraits of a graduating class

A roundup of 12 undergraduate and graduate student profiles who made the most of their years at Penn and made a mark on the community.

For the graduating Class of 2024, an undercurrent of resilience and adaptability is a throughline in the journey to Commencement. On the Class of 2024 page, Penn Today has highlighted the achievements and hard work of many undergraduate and graduate students throughout the 2023-24 academic year. From student-athletes to community advocates, innovators and educators, what unites this mix of students is how they made the most of what Penn has to offer, and gave back to the Penn community in turn.

Trevian AMbroise.
Trevian Ambroise is a graduate student ambassador for Penn’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design. (Image: Courtesy of Weitzman News)
Anna Kalandadze in Penn’s swimming pool.
Anna Kalandadze made waves swimming 11,000 yards a day and competed at the NCAA Championships. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Chandler McCLeskey.
As a teaching assistant, Chandler McCleskey found the path to his future profession, and the internships to get him there. (Image: Courtesy of Wharton Stories)
Kanyinsola Ajayi (left) and Ty Parks
Kanyinsola Ajayi (left) and Ty Parks won first place in the Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition. (Image: Courtesy of Penn Carey Law)

Trevian Ambroise finished his final year as a graduate student in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design while serving as a graduate student ambassador, and learning not just from Penn but the city of Philadelphia as an ideal place for studying economic development techniques to become a well-rounded planner. The fourth-year distance swimmer Anna Kalandadze is graduating with a degree in biology and environmental science. The champion swimmer hopes to stick to the water and pursue marine biology, specifically coral ecology. Chandler McClesky experienced the best of both worlds as a student and teaching assistant, learning from professors while honing his own understanding of business communication. Two Penn Carey Law students capped the last semester of their law school journey winning the 2024 Thurgood Marshall Moot Court regionals.

Janice Kim.
“I slowly got into design more and more, and the different practices, and now I’ve completely switched from an engineer who designs, to a designer who codes,” says Janice Kim, who is graduating with a dual degree in computer science and design. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Jordan Obi at the Palestra.
Jordan Obi is graduating Penn with a degree in communications, and leaving behind a women’s basketball team who found in her a mentor and leader. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Zach Koung.
Political science major Zach Koung has followed through in his quest to tackle dialogue across differences with the SNF Paideia Program. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Vicky Swanson, Hongyang Zhao, and Toby Johnson.
(Left to right) Penn GSE’s Vicki Swanson, Hongyang Zhao, and Toby Johnson share how their how community engagements deepen their connection with West Philadelphia. (Image: Scott Spitzer)

Janice Kim will graduate as the first Penn student to have a dual degree in computer science and design. Jordan Obi served as Penn women’s basketball’s “quiet leader.” Zach Koung, who seeks better conversations across differences, says “conversations that don’t leave people feeling isolated, but instead leave people feeling seen.” Toby Johnson, Vicki Swanson, and Hongyang Zhao are getting their graduate degrees from the Graduate School of Education, and spent their time at Penn with the community’s youngest learners through partnerships with elementary schools in West Philadelphia.

Oulaya Louaddi served as president of Minorities in Nursing Organization, advocating for fellow Middle Eastern and North African students. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Deborah Olatunji.
Deborah Olatunji pivoted from nursing to psychology with an emphasis on using the creative arts in research. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Amanda Yagerman.
Amanda Yagerman double-majored in history and English, while at the same time training to be a naval officer in the NROTC program. (Image: Eric Sucar)
Victor Ayeni on Match Day.
Victor Ayeni and the 2024 graduating class of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine celebrated the first look at their future on Match Day. (Image: Dan Burke)

Oulaya Louaddi served as president of Minorities in Nursing Organization, advocating for fellow Middle Eastern and North African students. Deborah Olatunji began as a nursing major, and during her four years pushed herself outside of her comfort zone by taking classes in disciplines outside of nursing, switched to psychology and started a podcast. Amanda Yagerman is graduating with a degree in history and English and, in graduating the Navy ROTC program, she says “I get to enter the military as an officer.” The ROTC program also paid her tuition in full. Victor Ayeni, a big proponent of community engagement, became involved with Penn Medicine outreach groups like the “Cut Hypertension” program, which provides blood pressure screenings to increase community awareness about hypertension, especially among Black men in whom it is prevalent. On Match Day, he and the graduating class in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine opened their letters to find at which schools, and in which cities, their next journey would be.