Celebrating the Global Quakers of the Class of 2020

Penn Global congratulates all graduating international students of the Class of 2020!

While we regret not being able to celebrate this occasion with you in person, we want you to know that we are so grateful for your perseverance, dedication, and hard work during your time at Penn. This semester has been anything but easy, and your graduation is a testament to your commitment to academic excellence. In the face of adversity, you stayed the course, bringing color to the tapestry of life at Penn with a truly global range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Wherever life takes you after graduation, remember that you belong here and that you will always have a home at Penn. Hurrah!

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania

Congratulations, Class of 2020 Global Quakers!

Class of 2020 by the Numbers

  • 1,593 international students are graduates of the Class of 2020 (1,271 graduate students and 322 undergraduates).
  • 70+ countries are represented in the Class of 2020.

Celebrating Global Citizenship

The Penn Global Student Citizenship Awards are presented to graduating international students who have best embodied the spirit of global citizenship during their time at Penn. These outstanding students are recognized for the diverse ways in which they bring the world to Penn and Penn to the world. Each year, one undergraduate student and one graduate student are selected as recipients of the award.

The winner of the 2020 Penn Global Undergraduate Student Citizenship Award is Melisande McLaughlin (College). The 2020 Penn Global Graduate Student Citizenship Award winner is Anthony Gokianluy (Wharton).

Undergraduate Winner: Melisande McLaughlin (College)

Melisande McLaughlin (College; BA, Cinema and Media Studies)

Growing up as a Canadian citizen in Thailand, Melisande McLaughlin developed a passion for telling the stories of transnational communities – and using those stories as a vehicle for social transformation – from an early age.

As a student of Cinema and Media Studies at Penn, she translated this passion into action. Melisande was part of a group of Penn students who traveled to northwestern Kenya during the summer of 2017 to document life at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in partnership with FilmAid International. In Kenya, she produced a documentary on Kakuma's water system that has been used by the UN to educate thousands of new arrivals to the camp. She also served as the lead editor on a virtual reality documentary about the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement which “has been shown widely as a pioneering work of virtual reality documentary," according to Peter Decherney, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies and the faculty director of the Penn-in-Kenya program.

Moved by her experience in Kenya, Melisande went on to co-found the Penn FilmAid club to tell the stories of Philadelphia-area refugee communities. She has edited and produced virtual reality documentaries on the lives of artists in post-Maria Puerto Rico, on the plight of Ethiopian Jews barred from migration to Israel, and on the stories of South Asian refugees in Philadelphia, among other projects. To all of these efforts, Melisande has brought “a fierce sense of ethical responsibility” and “skills […] that only a handful of people in the world share,” according to Professor Decherney.

After her graduation from Penn, Melisande hopes to work as a participatory community-based documentary filmmaker and scholar, with the ultimate mission of engaging future generations of artists, scholars, and activists in work that empowers and transforms transnational communities.

Graduate Winner: Anthony Gokianluy (Wharton)

Anthony Gokianluy (W '20)

During his two years as a Wharton MBA student, Anthony Gokianluy has been a tireless advocate for cultural diversity and international student integration on Penn’s campus. As the Vice President for International of the Wharton Graduate Association and a leader of Wharton’s Southeast Asia Club, Anthony spearheaded Wharton’s involvement in the annual International Week, coordinating over 25 events that brought hundreds of students together to celebrate global citizenship. He has acted as a mentor to new international students, delivered personal finance workshops, and partnered with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) to help students understand the resources available to them. Anthony also led a group of students to his home country of the Philippines to help them gain a firsthand understanding of the country’s culture and history.

“For me, global citizenship means the celebration of humanity and the many cultures that make up our wonderful planet."

– Anthony Gokianluy

Anthony’s devotion to international student success and his business acumen led him to found GoFurther Careers, a startup that offers mentorship and application preparation services to aspiring professionals in the finance industry, with a special focus on international students. As GoFurther’s CEO, he increased the platform’s subscriber count from 1,000 to 6,000 in three months and expanded its global footprint to over 10 countries.

“Again, and again, Anthony has given both his time and talents to open up the campus and light a path for international students at the University of Pennsylvania,” says Ben Onukwube (Wharton MBA ’20), EVP of Student Leadership and Engagement at the Wharton Graduate Association.

During his final semester at Penn, Anthony has partnered with Penn student leaders and with ISSS to combat and create a dialogue around xenophobia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Honorable Mentions

(L-R): Arya Akal (College), Handerson Mwandembo (Wharton)

Arya Akal graduates with a BA in Economics from the School of Arts and Sciences. Arya developed a drive for creating social impact during her childhood in Trinidad and Tobago. At Penn, she was heavily involved in Penn Engineers Without Borders as the organization's Vice President of International Projects and as the leader of service trips to Guatemala in 2018 and 2019. She also volunteered as a tennis coach for autistic children, held fundraisers to benefit refugee communities, and interned with the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City. Arya plans to pursue a career in the nonprofit world and to "[join] the fight to combat poverty worldwide."

As a Wharton MBA candidate, Handerson Mwandembo served as the Graduate Chair of the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), acting as a liaison between Penn's international graduate student community and University administrators. A member of the Wharton Africa Students Association (WASA), he helped organize the 27th-annual Wharton Africa Business Forum. In Spring 2019, he led a group of 40 MBA students to Ethiopia and his home country of Kenya as part of the Global Immersion Program, during which he secured meetings with some of Kenya's most prominent companies. Dr. Amy Miller, Director of the Global Immersion Programs, describes Handerson as "driven by a keen sense of civic responsibility to give back to the Wharton community and to increase the knowledge and connections to his home country and the African continent at large."

Undergraduate Finalists

(L-R): Ransford Antwi (Engineering), Louis Charles Davis (Annenberg)

Ransford Antwi graduates with a BSE in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. A native of Ghana, he served as the President of Penn's Society for African Internationals and played a key role in orchestrating events such as the Penn Africa Summit. He was also a Perry World House Student Fellow in the 2019-20 academic year and a Wharton India Fellow in 2018-19.

A first-generation student from Jamaica, Louis Charles Davis served as the Social Media Chair and Public Relations Officer of the Caribbean-American Student Association (CASA) since his freshman year at Penn, overseeing the organization's growth from 30 to over 250 student members. While pursuing a BA in Communication at the Annenberg School, he was also a Residential Advisor at Kings Court English College House, where he was "instrumental in helping create a culture of learning and self-help," according to House Dean Dr. Krimo Bokreta.

Graduate Finalists

(L-R): Sam Lin (GSE), Joo Hyung Park (College)

After graduating from the University of Missouri, Sam Lin returned to his home country of China to found an education consultancy that provides mentorship services to students who aspire to study in the United States and promotes cross-cultural awareness. As a student of the Graduate School of Education's Education Entrepreneurship Program, he initiated a number of collaborations with Chinese educators and entrepreneurs to promote technological innovation in education. Sam states that his mission is to "cultivate and empower global citizenship in [his] community through world-class entrepreneurial solutions."

Joo Hyung Park is pursuing a Master's of Chemical Science in the School of Arts and Sciences. A native of South Korea, he served as the Chair of International Affairs for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA) and the Graduate Vice Chair of the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB). In these roles, he spearheaded various initiatives to enhance the visibility of international student issues on Penn's campus and in the US Congress.

Celebrating Student Leadership

Penn Global partners with the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), the International Student Table for Advocacy and Relations (ISTAR), and the Assembly of International Students (AIS) to foster a welcoming, inclusive campus environment for international students and their domestic peers alike. We are grateful for these student leaders' tireless commitment to service and advocacy on behalf of Penn's international community.

Class of 2020 International Student Leaders

(L-R): Eva Zhang (Wharton, College), Simisola Afolayan (College), Joo Hyung Park (College), Handerson Mwandembo (Wharton)

We congratulate student leaders Eva Zhang (President, AIS; Wharton, College), Simisola Afolayan (Board Member and former Undergraduate Vice Chair, ISAB; College), Joo Hyung Park (Board member, ISAB; College), and Handerson Mwandembo (Graduate Chair, ISAB; Wharton) on their graduation and thank them for their enormous leadership contributions. We can't wait to see what they accomplish next!

Penn World Scholars 2020

Each year, a small number of incoming undergraduate international students are selected as Penn World Scholars. The Penn World Scholars Class of 2020 is made up of 12 students from 12 countries. We congratulate these students for their exemplary accomplishments during their years at Penn!

(L-R, top to bottom): Arundhati Singh (College), Priya Bhirgoo (Engineering), Sylvia Kimwei (Nursing), Khizrah Naveed (College), Catalina Dragoi (College), Jamaal Hay (Engineering), Marko Lamza (Wharton), Simisola Afolayan (College), Hai Nguyen (Wharton), Halil Memoglu (M&T), Abdullah Noaman (College), Santiago Herrera (Wharton)


Throughout the month of May, we are profiling graduating international students of the Class of 2020. Follow ISSS on Facebook or Instagram to read about some of this year's #GlobalQuakers!

Stay Connected!

Your Penn journey doesn't end here! Make sure to take advantage of Penn's global network of alumni and its resources for helping you navigate the job search. In addition, International Student and Scholar Services remains available to help you navigate life after Penn, from immigration-related matters to getting settled in the United States after graduation.

We are Penn!


Yupeng Wu, Penn Lens; Eric Sucar, Office of University Communications; Peter Tobia