Everyday People: Kulani Arrington

Senior criminology major Kulani Arrington is setting the bar high.

photo of Kulani Arrington standing on steps by Cardoni


On the Rise

Arrington, who was born in Harrisburg, Pa., and moved to Texas as a kid, wants society to make strides. She’s a criminology major, with a focus on legal studies, and has minors in both African American studies and sociology. After graduating in May, she envisions working in the realm of prison reform, whether that means grad school and research or law school. (One dream job: becoming an attorney for an organization such as the Innocence Project.) Before she pursues her career, she’ll take a gap year to gain nonprofit experience.


Clubs and Community

“Coming into Penn State, as a Black woman, I knew I was entering a primarily white institution,” says Arrington, who is a first-generation student. “I knew I needed to be able find a space to feel comfortable.” Early on, she joined the Penn State Student Black Caucus and BLUEprint peer mentoring program for students of color. Says Arrington: “Those organizations helped me find my home.”


Impactful Instructor

Arrington says she was influenced by sociology and criminology professor Lecinda Yevchak: “She allowed for an open discussion in class to talk about problems within the prison system.”


Passion Project

As political action chair for Black Caucus, she and other student leaders made recommendations to the administration through Penn State’s Racial Justice Policy and Advocacy working group. “I wanted to be involved,” says Arrington, “because of the things I was seeing that I thought were important to talk about.” One of their recommendations recently adopted was for “time, place, and manner” regulations to be incorporated so that the First Amendment could be honored without causing distress or danger to the community.


Equity Initiative

Last spring, as part of her D.C. Social Justice Fellowship, Arrington helped create a curriculum to tackle racial equity issues; the fellows then took their lesson plans to Washington, and taught them in public schools. 


Hometown: Dallas

Claim to Fame: 2023 Penn State Homecoming Court; Penn State Student Black Caucus

Campus: University Park

Find Her Here: The Paul Robeson Cultural Center in the HUB

Favorite Things: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Criminal Minds and crime documentaries