Mission Statement

The Purpose of the Black Graduate and Professional Students Assembly (BGAPSA) shall be to enhance the quality of life for graduate and professional students of the African Diaspora at the University of Pennsylvania through a centralized, campus-wide organizational structure that addresses their academic, social, political and cultural needs and concerns.

BGAPSA seeks to act as a support mechanism that will assist students in becoming acclimated to the university. Further, BGAPSA shall act as their advocate, lobby and political voice campus-wide.

2017-2018 Executive Board

LE Lisette Enumah

Lisette Enumah is originally from Western Georgia but considers New York a second home. She is a 3rd year Ph.D. student at the GSE with a focus on teacher development in secondary education. She is involved in several programs to support the political education of black youth. She enjoys reading, cleaning, and Insecure.

HP Haley Pilgrim

Haley Pilgrim is a 3rd year Sociology PhD student from Grand Rapids, MI. Her research examines the racial identification choices of multiracials. She enjoys teaching and worked as a Teaching Fellow for the Social Justice Research Academy as a part of Penn Summer. You can find Haley traveling, listening to podcasts, and transcribing interviews on College Green.

LT Laronnda Thompson

Laronnda V. Thompson is a first-year Ph.D student in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development (ISHD) program at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) as well as a recent alum of the school Reading / Writing / Literacy M.S.Ed program. Her research pertains to the developmental effects of literary content. She is also the twice appointed President of GSE’s Student Government (GSESG). Her background is in non-profit community development programming as well as Communications (B.A., Temple Univ.) and Creative Writing (M.A., Saint Joseph’s Univ.).

She intends to bring to BGAPSA thought-provoking cross-disciplinary and/or cross-school programming that is both academically and socially nourishing, in hopes of building upon the already strong and diverse community BGAPSA serves.

Smith, Y_016 (2) Yulani Smith

VP of Finance
Yulani is a second year MBA student from the Atlanta area who is majoring in marketing and operations. She enjoys philanthropy and is a Nonprofit Board Fellow through Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program. Before graduate school, she worked as a mechanical engineer in Texas for 6 years. You can find Yulani trying a new restaurant, cooking a new recipe, or exploring Philly.

RJ Standifer

VP of Community Relations
RJ is an MBA student at the Wharton School who grew up in Hartford, CT and attended Morehouse College for undergrad.

Prior to coming to Penn and Philly, he worked in finance and strategy roles across several industries, most recently living in Brooklyn, NY. In his service on this board he hopes to help create an environment where all Black Penn Grad students feel like they are a part of this great BGAPSA community.

Caylyn Perry

VP of Marketing
Caylyn is in her second year at Penn Law and  attended Vanderbilt University for undergrad. At Penn she is involved in numerous organizations at the law school and is a Lipman Fellow at Wharton. In the community she serves as a Girls on the Run Coach.


Brie Starks

Brie Milan Starks is a 2nd year MSW student and candidate for the certificate of Global Human Rights. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Her life goal is to found a Civil and Human Rights non profit in the next 10 years. She lives by the motto that, “Things change, so do not remain stagnant within a box of fear reducing your ability to grow and prosper”.

Brian Jackson

Brian is a 2nd year PhD student in Africana Studies. He attended undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, studying race and nationalism in Latin America, and here at Penn is interested in race and identity in 19th and 20th century Oman, Zanzibar and the wider Indian Ocean.