Aba Aggrey, a Masonic Children’s Home alumna, is primed for success. The college senior will be graduating with dual degrees from Penn State University this spring and is planning to attend law school in the fall.

She has been accepted by several colleges, including Seton Hall Law School and Fordham University School of Law. She is waiting to hear back from one other school before deciding where to go.

Aba majored in both criminology and psychology and plans to be a lawyer one day. She’s extremely interested in criminal defense because, she said, “a lot of disadvantaged people, particularly Black people and other minorities, don’t always have the resources to defend themselves in court, or have proper representation or someone who cares whether they go to prison or not. I want to do something about that.”

Aba was born in Massachusetts but moved to Philadelphia when she was six with her mother and two of her siblings. She attended school in the city until the fourth grade, when she came to the Masonic Children’s Home. Her older brother, Arthur Quaye had already been living there for a few months.

“My mom was a single mother who worked pretty much all of the time to support us,” Aba said. “I was not always supervised. Most times, I had to walk to school by myself in the first and second grades. It was a safer and better opportunity for me to go to the children’s home.”

Aba said living at the children’s home was the best experience because someone was always there for her, whether it was the house parents or the other girls in her house.

“I had house parents who made me food, checked on me and gave me structure,” she said. “I constantly had girls to play with and relate to. We had a lot of fun together and it felt really ‘homey’ there.”

Some of Aba’s favorite memories from her time spent at the children’s home were the trips to the beach at Chincoteague, Virginia and to Walt Disney World.

“It was really fun and a nice bonding experience,” she said. “They [the house parents] always made it feel like a family.” Aba also enjoyed sledding down the big hill in the back of the children’s home in the winter (before it was replaced by large solar panels).

While it was challenging being away from home and missing out on some family events, Aba said she eventually got used to a different way of life. “I was at Masonic most of the time, except holidays and some random weekends,” she said. “In the beginning it was difficult, but the girls you live with become your sisters.”

Aba became so close to her house parents, particularly Michele McLaughlin, or “Miss Mac,” and the other children, that she still keeps in touch with many of them. She recently visited the campus to spend time with her two primary house parents, who still work there today, and some of the other girls.

Aba’s experience living at the children’s home changed her life and shaped her into the woman she is becoming today.

“Becoming more well-rounded, learning from the different experiences of the people I met, and benefiting from the structure provided by our house parents and tutor … it all made a difference,” she said. “Plus, … I was able to go to college and come out of school with no debt.”

Today, Aba is vice president of the Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association at Penn State. She’s also a certified eyelash technician (something she started doing during the pandemic), with several clients in and outside of school.

Aba still visits her mother and siblings often.

“My mom, Clarise, is a Christian and is always praying for me and my siblings,” she said. “She always makes sure we have food at the house. We are Liberian, and it takes more time to prepare the food. It’s a whole process. But she makes a soup or stew for me every time I’m home. That’s how she shows she loves and cares for me.”

Aba reiterated that along with her family, the house parents at the Masonic Children’s Home have been her biggest motivators. “They are the ones who were raising us,” she said. “They were with us every single day, pushing us to be the best we can be.”

Clearly, they did a good job, as Aba is an inspiration to others today.