After grappling with the impact of COVID-19, the Trump administration, and numerous shootings of Black men, Weingarten Learning Resources Center counselor Gabriel Angrand is publishing his second book of poetry on Feb. 26.
In his book, titled "Love, God," Angrand reflects on love, race, gender, religion, and social issues. Angrand said many of his poems come from thoughts he has had following the shooting deaths of many Black men, including Ahmaud Arbery and Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia. As a 2017 College graduate and a 2018 Graduate School of Education graduate, Angrand also reflects on his role educating youth at Weingarten at age 25.
“We've had four years of an administration that would profess being aligned with Christian values, and maybe a cabinet that would do the same," Angrand said. "The big issue with that is maybe a lot of the things that have been said, a lot of the decisions made really don't come from a place of humility.”
Angrand said humility is essential to combating social issues, as it provides people with an accurate understanding of their roles as members of the "world race of humanity,” and allows people to put the interests of others before their own.
“I think each of us can do a little bit better at understanding where others are coming from, and I think that understanding will turn into real solutions,” Angrand said. “We can spend a lot of time being angry, but I think it's through dialogue that true justice can really come into play.”
Another focal aspect of “Love, God'' is Angrand's responsibility to teach Penn students important academic skills, after graduating just a few years ago himself. At Weingarten, Angrand is a STEM Learning Instructor and program facilitator for Weingarten Ambassadors, a group of students who work to increase awareness of the academic resources available at the center.
Engineering junior and Weingarten Ambassador Niko Simpkins said he values Angrand as a mentor, as well as somebody who understands the Black experience at Penn.
“Since I’ve been at this school, this semester is the first time I've had a Black [STEM] professor, so Gabriel Angrand to this point has been the only representation that I've seen as far as Black excellence [in STEM]," Simpkins said. "It's important to be able to see yourself in a space that you want to go to and be at.”
Simkins said Angrand is incredibly dedicated to his role as a STEM instructor, working “crazy hours” to help his students by explaining concepts via video chat and reviewing resumes and cover letters.
College junior Brennan Rose, one of Angrand’s STEM tutees, said Angrand was a “lifeline” for him in terms of excelling in his classes and developing good study habits.
“Penn had a really big stigma for me, as to feeling sort of superficial. Like yeah, they want to help you cause it’s their job, but it didn’t really feel like they wanted to help me,” Rose said. “Gabe was the first guy who felt really interested in what I was doing, really interested in trying to make sure that I succeed.”
When working with students, Angrand said that he likes to take on a more supportive role, rather than taking charge. He said that one of his favorite things about the Weingarten Ambassadors program is that it enables students to leverage Weingarten's institutional credibility to give students access to new spaces where their voices can be heard.
"It's really huge for me to be able to place students in those spaces, and that's what my leadership looks like — just supporting the voices of those students,” Angrand said.
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