Alumni Spotlight on Daina Troy, W’98
Daina Troy is a Penn alum as well as a proud Philly native! When applying to school, she originally wanted to go into Engineering and applied for the M&T program. She was ultimately admitted to the Wharton School and spent the entire summer before matriculating studying the fields of management and marketing. Upon arriving on campus, Daina knew that she wanted to have a good Black experience at Penn. She had a busy extra-curricular schedule after joining the Black Student League, Black Wharton Undergraduate Alliance, and the African American Arts Alliance (4A). For her senior year, she also joined Friars, and she was present for the beginnings of UMOJA, though it had not quite started in its formal capacity while she was a student. While enjoying life at the University, Daina found Wharton challenging, and the arts, specifically theatre, gave her something to dream about. She would wake up in the morning excited to pursue theatre, and she applied the consumer experience skills she learned at Wharton to her passions in the performing arts.
After graduating, Daina married her interests working in entertainment, management, and marketing in New York City. She spent time working at Bad Boy Records, J Records, and Interscope, and she even spent time working on Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls’ posthumous album! After a while, Daina realized that she wanted to pivot out of the entertainment and management industries, and she joined the staff team at Makuu: The Black Cultural Center, right here at Penn. Working at Makuu gave her space to explore the crossover between artistry and student development. This experience also helped her develop a new perspective both about the entertainment industry and about the University. In addition to her work, Daina is also a proud mother of twin sons. Between 2013 and 2019, she took a break to focus on family. She returned to Makuu in 2019 and noted how students’ needs have changed over time. Daina shares that she loves her role of framing the journey for students: “They know what they want to do. I am giving them permission to pursue those dreams.” Daina now works with the Penn Spectrum team in Alumni Relations at Penn, where she continues to help University community members follow their dreams.
Daina shares her favorite memory of the arts at Penn: she had her first lighting job in the 1996 production of A Soldier’s Play! The play featured a full Black male cast, and Daina fondly recalls everyone really growing into their roles. Today, Daina feels fortunate to work with so many alumni who are leaving their mark on the arts world. She is also a co-lecturer in the Africana Studies department, and she is working on a modern archive of Black art. The arts are important to Daina because they provide a good creative release. To students interested in pursuing the arts beyond college, Daina reminds them to be patient: “Consider your integrity and the sacrifices you’re willing to make. There is net capital in the long run, and you need to be passionate enough about it to be willing to wait. The reward is not immediate. Don’t give up art.” Wise words to lead us all.
This interview was conducted by Jordyn Harris, ENG’25.