"A Home for the Holidays"

Oden news

Kyle Oden, a junior in the College calls Inglewood, Calif., home. On Dec. 21, he and his family will be featured as part of a nationally-televised holiday special: "A Home for the Holidays - the 20th Anniversary” celebrating families whose lives have been changed by adoptions.

Kyle is studying cognitive science, concentrating in computation and cognition, and is also a 3-year member on the Varsity Track and Field Team. He is interested in artificial intelligence research and its supportive impact to people. He also enjoys photography and coding. “I’m incredibly grateful to be able to share my story and experience. When my family was first featured, I never imagined I’d be where I am right now. I’m glad to be able to show how my life has been greatly aided by my family and Penn.”

"A Home for the Holidays - the 20th Anniversary” will air Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. on CBS and will feature the Oden family’s story from the 2015 program.

For the last two decades, the award-winning program has raised awareness for the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care, and has changed the lives of a generation of foster children. Adopted children featured on the show have graduated from high school and gone on to follow their dreams of college, advanced degrees, and successful careers. Some of the entertainment industry’s top names have taken part in the CBS special over the past 20 years, including Muhammad Ali, Beyoncé, Ellen DeGeneres, and Penn alum John Legend. This year’s program will be hosted by hip-hop artist LL Cool J and will include performances by Gwen Stefani, Train, and Lukas Graham.

Kyle earned an academic scholarship to attend Penn. His first experience at the University was at the Center for Africana Studies Summer Institute for Pre-Freshmen, an intense, weeklong course of study aimed to not only expand students’ intellectual horizons, but also prepare them for life on campus and in the classroom. The program, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, is attended by incoming Penn students from diverse backgrounds and intellectual interests, and boasts a wide range of courses reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of Africana studies.

Kyle first heard about the Summer Institute during a visit to campus over Quaker Days. “I really didn't know what the Africana studies department was,” says Oden, C’20. “I learned a lot in the classes, and it was a great way for me to be introduced to the field of Africana Studies.”

“For 30 years, we have helped to prepare incoming freshmen for the rigors of Penn while introducing them to the interdisciplinary field of Africana studies,” says Camille Charles, Director of both the Center for Africana Studies and the Summer Institute for Pre-Freshmen, as well as the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies, and Education. “On a more personal level, we have helped students to foster meaningful relationships with their classmates and the renowned faculty who teach in our program. The Summer Institute provides a unique opportunity for Penn’s incoming students, and this is something that the University should be very proud of.”

Learn more about Kyle and the Center for Africana Studies Summer Institute for Pre-Freshmen in a Penn Arts and Sciences OMNIA video: https://vimeo.com/184910175.

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