Ranging from the CEO of a Latinx coalition to the president of a classical league, The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with newly admitted members of Penn's Class of 2025, who expressed excitement to join the Penn community this fall.
Penn released decisions for regular decision applicants on Tuesday, offering admission to 3,202 students and recording its lowest ever acceptance rate of 5.68%. This year marked Penn's largest application pool in history, with 56,333 — a 34% increase from last year.
Fifteen percent of the Class of 2025 identifies as a first-generation college student, and at least 18% of the accepted class is estimated to qualify for a Federal Pell Grant, which provides need-based aid to low-income students. All 50 states are represented in the Class of 2025, and 11% of the students hail from countries around the world.
With the end of the pandemic nearing as vaccinations ramp up, the Class of 2025 is set to have a vastly different transition to college life than the Class of 2024. Top administrators at Penn previously announced that the University is planning for an in-person fall semester, leaving many incoming first years feeling hopeful that their first semester will resemble that of a typical year, with in-person classes, parties, late-night cram sessions in the library, and spur-of-the-moment social gatherings.
Harper de Andrade, a native of Durham, N.C., was surrounded by family when he learned of his acceptance to the College of Arts and Sciences. He was so ecstatic, he said, that he ran in a frenzy to his parents, jumping up and down and almost injuring himself in the process.
“I ran into the living room and told my parents and did a little jump in the air and completely missed landing correctly and fell splat on the floor," he said. "It really concerned my parents, but I thought it was pretty funny.”
While he never had the opportunity to see the campus in person because of the pandemic, Andrade was grateful to have the opportunity to attend virtual tours offered by the University and a tour given over FaceTime by his friend, a Penn student, before he applied.
Andrade is president of the North Carolina Classical League, which plans state-wide conventions devoted to Ancient Greece and Rome. He hopes to expand on his interest in ancient history as a double major in classical studies and mathematics, while also taking classes in Hebrew and Sanskrit.
"I'm so excited to meet other people and get to learn about other experiences outside of Durham," Andrade said.
José Luis Salinas Vargas, an international student from Cali, Colombia, chose to film himself opening his admissions decision to the College of Arts and Sciences. Hours after he opened his decision, he “couldn’t stop smiling.”
“I saw confetti and I started yelling and screaming,” Vargas said. “My parents came running into my room because they were so concerned something bad happened.”
Vargas currently serves as the founder and CEO of the Latinx Queer Union, a national non-governmental organization that promotes LGBTQ+ rights in Colombia; editor-in-chief of his high school magazine, Tribuna Magazine; and student body president. An aspiring journalist, Vargas plans to major in communications.
While Vargas has yet to visit Penn, he has already begun connecting with fellow newly admitted Quakers on Instagram and through various GroupMe’s, such as the Penn Latinx WhatsApp group. Vargas is most looking forward to moving to campus and meeting his soon-to-be professors and fellow communications classmates.
Zida Anyachebelu, who hails from Nigeria but attends boarding school in Stony Brook, N.Y., was in her dorm when she opened her acceptance letter to the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I started shouting and screaming. I ran around my dorm and all of my dorm sisters came and hugged me,” she said.
While Anyachebelu has not formally committed to Penn, she says it is one of her top choices. She feels fortunate to have seen the campus in person while visiting her sister, College and Wharton junior Yina Anyachebelu. Because COVID-19 disrupted her college touring plans, she said she also watched many different TikTok videos from college students to inform her final application list.
A co-founder of the Black Student Union at her high school, Anyachebelu is passionate about racial and environmental activism. She plans to join environmental advocacy groups and potentially play a club sport in college.
Keshav Ramesh, who was accepted to the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, opened his decision after tennis practice with his family. Before he opened his acceptance, he and his family members sat down and went through every Hindu prayer he could think of, while his mom read through a group of chants for good blessings. When he opened his acceptance letter, he said, “emotion overwhelmed all of them.”
A native of South Windsor, Connecticut, Ramesh was not able to tour campus before he applied because of the pandemic. He added that the extra week Ivy League universities added before decisions were released — a decision made in response to the increase in application volume — was stressful, and that he was constantly looking through online forums like College Confidential and Reddit for updates.
Ramesh is the state president of the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda secretary-general of his school’s Model United Nations club, and captain of his school’s math team. Huntsman was “his dream program,” he said, and he intends to have a target language in French.
“Huntsman is an amazing interdisciplinary opportunity for me to get involved, study a target language, and see the world from a new lens while learning from some of the world's foremost professors and interacting with students from all over the world,” he said.
Jade Hermosillo, who hails from Hacienda Heights, Calif., was at Rosando Beach with friends when she learned of her acceptance to the College of Arts and Sciences. She enrolled right away, she said, calling her mom immediately after opening her acceptance letter.
Like Andrade, Hermosillo was never able to visit campus in person before she applied, instead relying on the virtual tours offered by the University and YouTube “College Day in the Life” videos to learn more about Penn.
President of her school’s film club and captain of the varsity golf team, Hermosillo intends to major in political science or international relations at Penn. She hopes to become involved in student government and potentially Greek life.
“I’m most excited to meet new people and go in with an open mind and learn new things," Hermosillo said.