Press Release

Students and Alumnae Collaborate on Collection of Short Stories
to Guide Penn Black Undergraduate Women


Grace L. Sanders Johnson, Department of Africana Studies Postdoctoral Fellow for Academic Diversity, addresses event guests.
Photo by Climbing Vines/Janay Sylvester

Philadelphia, Pa. – Sept. 30, 2014 – On the evening of Wednesday, September 24, a book release party was held for Climbing Vines: A Collection of Short Stories, a compilation of personal narratives contributed by Penn black alumnae and undergraduate women. The event was hosted by the book’s Executive Editor Janay Sylvester, C’12 and the Little Black Book, the University of Pennsylvania’s only black student publication.

Nearly 60 guests, including students, alumnae, faculty and staff, attended the event at the LGBT Center on Penn’s campus. All in attendance received the 100-page book that features 17 short stories on a range of topics including diversity in the classroom, the importance of sisterhood, self-love and mental health and wellness.

“Having a written archive of the experiences of black women during their undergraduate years at Penn is so important,” said Climbing Vines Executive Editor Janay Sylvester. “So much can be learned from the candid, heartfelt stories that are shared in this book – not only do they provide insight into topics that the University must continue to addressed, but they are also chock-full of resources for undergraduate women navigating their first years of college. I am so thankful to the Little Black Book for believing in the project and providing the resources needed to make this book available to the Penn community.”

The book is now available, free of charge, at Makuu: The Black Cultural Center on the University’s campus. There are plans to make the book available by request for those outside of the Philadelphia area at