Howell awarded for essay on diversity

April 28, 2021

WYOMISSING, Pa. —Troi Howell, a first-year student at Penn State Berks, was recently recognized for her essay titled “Lack of Diversity in the Distribution of Wealth in America.” The essay was submitted to Penn State Smeal College of Business’ S.T.A.R.T. (Striving toward Awareness and Respect for Tomorrow) Diversity Contest.

A native of Oswego, a suburb of Chicago, Howell was asked to read her essay at the S.T.A.R.T. Conference on March 25. In her essay, she discusses the long-term repercussions of financial decisions for Black people who have recently become wealthy, as well as possible solutions, including taking financial literacy courses in high school and investing in low-income communities rather than material things.

As a student at a predominantly white high school, Howell has witnessed firsthand disparities in the distribution of wealth in the United States. She commented, “Many people overlook how your upbringing affects the way you spend money. Financial literacy depends on where you come from.”

Howell also presented her undergraduate research at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research online on Monday, April 12. She is working with Laurie Grobman, professor of English and women's studies, on a research study titled "The Grey Space: The Ostracization of High Achieving Black Students from White Spaces and Black Counter-Spaces in Predominantly White High Schools." She explains that she is drawing a connection between the lack of diversity in honors and AP courses and high achieving Black students' ability to interact with other Black students within their school. 

At Penn State Berks, Howell is a member of the Black Student Union student organization. She plans to earn a baccalaureate degree in English at University Park campus.

To read Howell’s full essay, click here.

Last Updated April 28, 2021