#MeetTheACLPTeam: Samantha Villajin
By: Amy Xiang
Growing up as a first-generation Filipina American, ACLP Social Media Manager Samantha Villajin learned very early on the important role that family plays in her culture, emphasizing that many of the goals she has are “to make them proud and give back to them for all they have done to raise [her].”
Samantha was born in Chicago, but moved to Southern California when she was just two years old, where she lived until she came to Penn. Because she attended a small, low-income, public high school where she said most students did not leave home, going to an elite college was not something on Samantha’s radar until senior year.
“It wasn’t until my school counselor and high school teacher told me that I had real potential to get into Penn that I decided to apply a month before the deadline. I would not have believed in myself if it weren’t for them,” Samantha says. “I applied not only to make my family proud, but also for my high school community to believe in themselves as well.”
Samantha is currently a sophomore in the School of Nursing, and she hopes to get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and become a nurse practitioner, adding that she would love to eventually go back to California to practice nursing. In the meantime, Samantha is involved with Asian Pacifica American Nursing Student Association (APANSA) and Penn Philippine Association (PPA) on campus.
In her free time, Samantha loves to bake. She experiments with various kinds of desserts, many of which she adds a Filipino twist to, as a fun way to share the culture with her friends.
Samantha’s journey with ACLP as the social media manager began in October 2020. She is excited to work with the team to coordinate the Future Scholars Program, where her main role will be creating graphics for the lessons.
“As a FGLI student, I felt it was a part of my responsibility as a Penn student to give back to the Philadelphia community and create a support system for students who may be going through similar experiences as I did,” Samantha says.
To these students, Samatha gives some important pieces of advice: “Give yourself more credit, do not compare yourself to others, and be proud of who you are. Do not be afraid to reach out to ACLP whenever you need. We are here to support you.”
AMY XIANG is the writer for African Community Learning Program and a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also writes for The Daily Pennsylvanian and 34th Street Magazine. To support African Community Learning Program’s work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.