By: Amy Xiang
While ACLP Operations Manager Naphekie Taloute currently lives on Long Island, New York with her mother and two sisters, she called Haiti home until 2011, when she was 13 years old.
“Spending half of my life in Haiti and half of my life here in the US, I’ve been able to see a bit of both worlds and how people’s backgrounds can shape the opportunities they have,” Naphekie said. “I’m grateful for everything I’ve had access to since moving to the US, but I will always remember my roots and know where I come from.”
At Penn, Naphekie is a senior in the College double majoring in sociology and Africana studies and minoring in Hispanic studies.
One of the main reasons Naphekie was drawn to Africana studies in particular is because of the opportunity to learn about history, politics, and culture in a way that she feels connected to: “Most of the history I learned in high school and even what the media portrays nowadays is very Euro-centric. I wanted to learn more about the other side of the story and how it relates to my background,” Naphekie said.
Naphekie’s main extracurricular at Penn is ACLP, and she has been involved with the program since her sophomore year, when she was looking for a work-study job. At the time, Aminata Sy (ACLP Founder) was running a one-person show and needed some extra hands to help with administrative tasks.
“Simi [Ayinde, current ACLP Chief of Staff,] and I both ended up applying for that position and we’ve been involved ever since,” Naphekie said.
It’s safe to say that Naphekie has been there through the many stages of ACLP, working her way up to her position as operations manager, but perhaps the biggest change for her so far has been the creation of a leadership team starting in the summer of 2020.
“As we met more with Aminata and assessed how the program had been going, we realized that we needed more people for more specialized positions. With the new team, everything is so much more efficient and I feel like this will allow ACLP to be even more impactful,” Naphekie said.
As for the coming year, Naphekie says she looks forward to helping high schoolers in their transition to college, especially given her own experience attending an under-resourced high school.
“I was lucky to have people who helped me throughout the college application process and I feel like ACLP is a good way for me to give back to other students like myself who may be going through the same experiences that I did,” Naphekie said.
Though she was originally undecided about what to pursue after graduation, Naphekie says her involvement at ACLP has given her a clearer idea about her passions and possible career paths.
“Working with ACLP and seeing all of my involvement with community engagement has helped solidify what I want to do. My long-term goal would be to work at nonprofits or for-profits with a social impact component, especially ones that extend to outside of the US. I really want to establish something in Haiti and other African diaspora countries,” Naphekie said.