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Clockwise from bottom left: Maya Arthur, Amanda Silberling, Karis Stephen, Ari Lewis, and Regina Salmons.

While many undergraduates at Penn choose to pursue traditional career paths, each year there are some students that opt for less common ones.

In 2016, 25 percent of graduates pursued careers in finance, 17 percent pursued careers in consulting, 15 percent pursued careers in technology, and 12 percent pursued careers in health care. This year, too, the percentages are likely to be similar, but here are some of the students who decided to take their own route.

Maya Arthur (College, English Major)

College senior Maya Arthur will be teaching English at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, N.Y. She currently plans on teaching fifth and 10th grades, though she says that may change. Arthur heard about this opportunity through a professor at Penn, who told her Saint Ann’s was interested in hiring teachers of color to teach poetry in the English Department. She will be teaching off of her own syllabus part-time and working in an administrative and guidance capacity part-time.

Maya Arthur

Arthur said she hadn’t thought a lot about teaching before her senior year, but after teaching at a federal detention center this year she became more excited about the possibilities of teaching.

“Saint Ann’s is a cool space because they really do let a lot of experimentation grow in the classrooms, and I’m really excited for the possibilities,” Arthur said. “I would like to be a sort of mentor or guidance to these students."

Regina Salmons (College, English Major)

College senior Regina Salmons moves to Princeton University the week after graduation to begin training for the U.S. women’s senior national rowing team. She first received the opportunity to row for the national team the summer after her sophomore year, when she rowed for the under-23 national team and won races in both boats she competed in, setting a world record in the process.

Salmons will be practicing with the senior national team two to three times a day, with an afternoon off every three days. The team makes up the body of the Olympic Team every four years, and when asked if she will be rowing in the Olympics in 2020, Salmons laughed and said, “Hopefully!” 

Regina Salmons 

While at Penn, Salmons split her time between rowing and her studies in English, and hopes to continue to pursue that passion while she trains. Salmons said that she in interested in exploring the “gray space between poetry and prose” in her writing, and hopes to publish something during her training. She added that she does a lot of her writing when she is physically exhausted from rowing, as it tends to “turn on” her brain. 

“Every rowing stroke has a rhythm, that rhythm has affected my writing," Salmons said. "My stanzas, my lines have that one-breath aspect."

Amanda Silberling (College, English Major)

College senior Amanda Silberling will be leaving for Laos this June for a fellowship through Princeton University in Asia to work for the Luang Prabang Film Festival. She will help organize and prepare for the festival throughout the course of a one-year, or possibly two-year, fellowship.

Silberling said she became interested in arts administration through her work at both the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Kelly Writers House, and explained that this job seemed like an amazing opportunity to be a part of such an important event. She said she enjoys “thinking about ways to connect the community with art" and is excited to work abroad on something that is so important to her. 

Amanda Silberling

“I just wanted to do something exciting and different,” Silberling said. “I’ve never been able to travel before and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” 

She added that while moving to a country where she will not speak the language can be scary, she thinks this is the right step for her.

“It is a really simultaneously exciting and terrifying thing, but that was definitely what I was looking for post-grad,” Silberling said.

Ari Lewis (College, Cinema and Media Studies Major, Communication Major)

College senior Ari Lewis received a scholarship from the Fulbright Program this spring that will allow her to pursue a graduate program in international film business at both the University of Exeter and the London Film School. 

In this one-year master's program, Lewis will learn about multiple sides of the film industry and advance toward her dream career of producing movies.

Ari Lewis

“I envision my work expanding past the American industry and joining a larger, more transnational film movement," Lewis said, adding that she was excited to finally pursue her ambitions. "That’s particularly important for me as a black woman trying to fight against and create more representations of black women."

Lewis added that she is particularly interested in the use of science fiction as a tool to move past traditional ways of depicting black narratives and tell more “nuanced” stories.

“I demand my space," Lewis said in response to an industry executive who told her there is a closing gap for people of color in the entertainment industry. “I’m carving my own path."

Karis Stephen (College, Cinema and Media Studies Major, English Major)

College senior Karis Stephen is also a Fulbright Program scholarship recipient and will be teaching English in Malaysia from January 2019 to November 2019. Stephen says that she has always wanted to go abroad, but has been waiting until after she graduated to do it.

While in Malaysia, Stephen will work as a teaching assistant and act as the point person for English within the classroom. While she hasn’t always known she wanted to teach, her participation in teaching programs at Penn inspired her to pursue this opportunity. Stephen is not sure if she wants to pursue teaching past this year, but thinks this program is an amazing opportunity.

Karis Stephen

“The fact that I don’t know exactly what I want to do was a big factor in why I’m choosing to do this,” Stephen said. She added that through this experience she believes “many options will open up.”

According to Stephen, another factor in making this decision was a speech she heard Joe Biden give while at Penn. She explained that he urged Penn students to do something for the country, which Stephen said inspired her to accept the position because it made her choice feel bigger than just herself.

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