WYOMISSING, Pa. -- Edith Konneh has had a successful four years at Penn State Berks, both academically and socially. Perhaps her most significant accomplishment was inspiring her fellow students through her poetry which explores issues of mental health, self-love, and healing. The Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, native will graduate with a bachelor's degree in elementary and early childhood education during Penn State Berks commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6.
Konneh explained that it was a last minute decision to attend Berks. She had already been accepted to University Park campus and had some concerns about the bigger campus environment. That’s when she got in touch with Alexa Hodge, coordinator of student support services and the college’s Aspiring Scholars Program, which supports first-year students by providing access to services and programs that prepare them for a successful transition to college. After talking with Hodge and visiting the campus, Konneh decided that Berks was the right campus fit for her.
“I fell in love with the campus,” commented Konneh. “I love nature and there are a lot of green spaces at Berks.”
She added that she has enjoyed the personal attention she received on campus. “I’ve had a lot of mentors who pushed me to explore at Berks.”
One area of exploration led to her entering a campus poetry contest during her first year, and she took third place. After that, she was hooked. She entered again her sophomore and junior years, taking first place each time. In her junior year, she branched out and started writing poetry to express herself.
The result is two published books of poetry: "Not So Broken-Hearted Girl," and "Something Great: Life After." She explains that the books are geared to young adults and in them, she shares her personal experiences and advice on how to overcome challenges. She has been invited to read her original poems at campus and community events, like the recent swearing-in ceremony for Berks County Commissioner Lucine Sihelnik.
Konneh explained that she has wanted to be a teacher since first grade. From an early age, she recalls being told that she “would never amount to much” because of where she came from. Those words motivated her to make her dreams a reality, and she wants to do the same for the children she teaches.
Currently, Konneh is a student teacher at Glenside Elementary School, working with fourth graders. Glenside is part of the Reading School District, where all Penn State Berks elementary and early education majors complete their student teaching assignments before graduation.
During her time at Berks, she explored many other opportunities academically and socially. She served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) student chapter at Penn State Berks and an Aspiring Scholar peer mentor, and worked as a teaching assistant for statistics and math courses. She was also involved in campus life, serving on the Campus Activities Board and as an orientation leader, and holding various positions with the Student Government Association, including secretary.
When asked how Penn State Berks has prepared her for the future, she stated, “When I first came to Penn State Berks, I didn’t feel comfortable putting myself out there. The leadership roles I have held have helped to prepare me for my future. I’ve learned many transferrable skills such as time management, communication, creativity, organization, and networking.”
Konneh is currently seeking a position in education, where she will continue to inspire a future generation.