A pair of twin College freshmen have wasted no time in bringing their ongoing mission of inclusion and compassion to the University of Pennsylvania.
Max and Sam Strickberger have brought their award-winning magazine InLight to Penn in the hopes of continuing to combat social injustice by encouraging middle and high school aged students to contribute to their publication, which focuses on diversity.
The brothers launched the magazine in their native Washington D.C. The publication quickly garnered critical acclaim. In 2016 the American Scholastic Press Association and the National Association of Independent Schools recognized the publication. That same year, Sam Strickberger, then a junior in high school, was named as one of the recipients of Princeton University's Prize in Race Relations.
InLight currently prints one annual D.C.-wide issue, while publishing individual school editions and online content year-round.
Each installment is a collection of original stories and art, crafted by high school students, that shed light on the unique experiences of individuals from all walks of life. Some articles are first-person narratives on students' unique cultural traditions and experiences, and others are commentaries on injustices they witness in their communities.
In addition to facilitating contributions to each interscholastic issue, the twins and their staff also sponsor workshops with lessons on the publication process so students can learn how to produce their own school-specific editions.
Publishing submissions from 24 schools in their native Washington, D.C. during this academic year, the InLight staff plan to expand to Philadelphia in the next. So far, they have reached an audience totaling over 3,000 in D.C. and surrounding areas.
Along with Wharton freshman Douglas Hayes and College sophomore Maya Robnett, who have been helping in editorial and management roles since high school, the brothers are working on building a team of student leaders at Penn by holding information sessions.
InLight has the sponsorship of the Kelly Writers House, which offered a $3000 grant to help the publication find new resources.
“When I first met [the twins], I was extremely impressed," Associate Director for Recruitment Jamie-Lee Josselyn said. "In a way, InLight is just as important for the conversations it creates as it is for the discourse in the magazine itself."
The brothers told prospective members that they believe that InLight can help create that “connective tissue” a divided society lacks, empowering students at the forefront to be “not the leaders of tomorrow, but of today.”
“There’s no better time than now for something like this: just look at the news from the past few weeks for example,” said Sam Strickberger, citing the recent shootings in Kentucky and Pittsburgh that targeted specific groups. “It’s important for different cultures to keep up to date on where each other are and to stand on each other’s borders when needed.”
This effort is an example of the Writers House's openness to undergraduate creative projects. Josselyn said the Writers House has sponsored a number of projects involving elementary, middle, and high school students, along with Impact Magazine, which is focused on social justice issues and activism.
“So many people really connect with the mission, making it so much more enjoyable to work on it,” echoed Hayes. “And from what I’ve seen so far tutoring in West Philly…there are plenty of new voices to be heard, issues to be brought up and resolved.”
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