Students Honor Hettie Simmons Love, First Black Graduate Of Wharton


Students from Philadelphia came together to honor Hettie Simmons Love, the first African American to graduate from the prominent Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Simmons Love, who is 98 years-old, was interviewed by students through a project of the National Youth Foundation, a Black-led nonprofit dedicated to diversifying youth literacy. They turned the interview in an originally written and illustrated book titled, Hettie Simmons Love: Penn Pioneer, that details her life story.

Simmons Love was born in 1923 in Jacksonville, Florida and attended the Boylan-Haven Boarding School. Upon graduation, she began her collegiate career at the Fisk University in Tennessee, where she thrived academically in mathematics. She joined Alpha Kappa Sorority, Incorporated and graduated before continuing her studies at Wharton. 

When she got to campus, she soon noticed she was the only woman and only African American student in her classes, though it wasn’t until 2016 that she learned that she was indeed the first African American ever to graduate from the prestigious business school. She graduated from Wharton in 1947.

In 2017, Wharton Magazine honored her pioneering academic path with a profile from fellow Wharton alumna Lana Woods

Educators can obtain free copies of the book through the National Youth Foundation by emailing ContactNationalYouthFoundation@gmail.com.

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