Senior Profile: Sequean Zev Mahnke Serves His Community

Pushing a pile of papers and books to the side, a weary Morgan State senior takes a break from a lengthy research paper to skim through his photo library. It is filled with images that chronicle his near ending undergraduate journey through college. Smiling, he stops on a picture of him posing happily with a few of his many peer mentees. “It feels good to open the doors for the people coming in after you,” he says as he continues scrolling through more images.

IMG_3211Sequean Zev Mahnke has firsthand experience on the tremendous impact a helping hand can have on a person’s life.

Mahnke, 23, was born April 26, 1990 in South Philadelphia, where he spent his early childhood living with his mother, Crystal Scott, and six siblings. At a young age, Mahnke was put in foster care by his mother, who was enduring a rough time in her life and wanted to secure the best possible life for her son. He was adopted by Erhard and Sydney Mahnke, a loving couple from Burlington, Vermont, and moved north to live with them in the Green Mountain State.

Growing into a young adult and graduating high school in 2008, Mahnke attended a local community college as he pondered his plans for the future. Desperately wanting a change from the predominantly white area he had grown up in, he decided to visit Morgan State University to discover what a historically black college could offer him. What he found amazed him.

“Seeing people that looked like me and were doing great things for themselves really inspired me,” says Mahnke. “It’s the reason I came to Morgan.”

IMG_2344Enrolling at Morgan in the fall of 2009, Mahnke was immediately drawn to the university’s highly reputable School of Social Work. Upon acceptance into the program, Mahnke began an academic career that would earn him multiple Deans List honors. He was also the recipient of the John H. Ashley Award of Excellence, an award celebrating outstanding scholastic achievement within the social work department.

Outside of the classroom, Mahnke was deeply rooted in community service activities on campus. His many contributions include helping to organize a fundraising event for underprivileged schools in Malawi, and acting as chairman of promotion for the School of Social Work’s senior project committee. He was also a long-serving peer mentor for Morgan’s Access Orientation, a program designed to help incoming freshman adjust to college life. “Those were some of the best times I had at Morgan,” says Mahnke laughing.

Still, Mahnke’s services have not been confined to Morgan. Throughout his time in Baltimore, he has worked tirelessly to help uplift the surrounding community, with special attention to the inner city youth. He worked as a recruiter for the Innovative Education program, which locates tutors and pairs them with children in need of after school instruction in their studies. In addition, he interned as a guidance counselor and assistant to the director of the Camille and Bill Cosby Center at the Saint Frances Academy in downtown Baltimore.

IMG_6780Mahnke credits his professors and staff within Morgan’s social work department for the opportunities he’s been afforded to help others achieve their potential. “My professors and advisors were excellent,” he says. “I’ve met people that I will be working with in my field later in life.”

Mahnke will be the first in his family to receive a Bachelor’s degree. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Master’s degree through Morgan’s School of Social Work before beginning his career as a social worker. “Social work is a calling, it’s not a choice,” says Mahnke. “If you want to help people ,you gravitate towards being a social worker.” For him, helping others is hardly work. It’s a passion.

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