Cash for Grades

In the days before the Wharton campus was riddled with iPad photos, before students could be seen slipping and sliding on a dead sprint to class at 8:59, and before power clusters flexed their muscle of knowledge, a few brave souls could be found huddled in GSRs, clutching their class notes and attempting to prepare for class. These lonely WG’13 pioneers tread carefully over piles of hungover classmates and when the dust settled three stood tall—and were rewarded—as Wharton’s most studious.

 

This was the way I imagined the academic landscape pre-attendance policy and, surprisingly, I was only partially correct (about the hungover classmates). Upon further investigation I found the honored students unassuming and uniquely dynamic, with a genuine passion for improving Wharton—three students who had risen to the top of an innately superlative group. At the top of the proverbial academic mountaintop, each received one of three awards given annually to rising second-year students: the Ford Fellowship, the Isik Inselbag Scholarship, and the William G. McGowan Fellow Award.

 

These prestigious awards have historically functioned as recognition for a job well done, but Vice Dean Howard Kaufold spoke clearly about the opportunity for them to inspire scholarship, “These awards are a great way for us to highlight and celebrate the holistic nature of Wharton.  This year’s winners show that students can perform at the highest levels academically, and still lead in our community on other fronts…Recognizing their contributions through these awards can hopefully serve to motivate them and others to keep pursuing an equally well-balanced MBA experience.”

 

This past summer, as rising first years relished newfound freedom and second years shook the dust off Excel and PowerPoint, the Class of 2013 award winners were announced: Jalaj Garg, Andrew Baill, and Eva Liu.

 

Ford Fellowship

 

The Ford Fellowship, a $10,000 grant, goes to the rising second-year student with the highest GPA (having completed at least 9 course units). This year’s winner, Jalaj Garg, attributed his success to three steps: accepting and acknowledging his goal, filtering out noise and distraction, and being diligent with his preparation and follow through.
Jalaj spoke candidly about the enormity of the task and his advice to first year Ford Fellowship aspirants, “There is no way to plan for something like this. To pursue this course requires support from your learning team and missing out on things, but if it’s important to you, go for it. In the end, it will probably be worth it.” Within the first few minutes of our conversation, Jalaj had laid out a compelling case for more consistent appreciation of academic success. He possesses the rare combination of supreme intelligence and steadfast work ethic, a combination he has used to serve the Wharton community and to mentor prospective students as an Admissions Fellow.

 

Isik Inselbag Scholarship

 

Isik Inselbag, a former finance professor, served in key leadership positions at Wharton, including Vice Dean and Director of the Graduate Division. Dr. Inselbag worked tirelessly to improve the Wharton experience and is remembered as a dedicated embodiment of servant leadership. The Isik Inselbag Scholarship ($7,500) was created as a tribute to that service and is awarded to a rising second-year student who demonstrates outstanding leadership, teamwork, scholarship, and service.

 

Andrew Baill, winner of the 2012 Isik Inselbag Scholarship, spent the weekend following our interview competing in the USA Ultimate Frisbee Club Championships in Sarasota, Florida—a far cry from the “locked-in-the-library” stereotype. It was immediately clear why Andrew was recognized: he effortlessly balances academics with a full extracurricular slate. He serves as ED for Academics on the WGA Executive Board, serves as a Leadership Fellow, and plays on the Philadelphia-based traveling Frisbee team AMP—the award reflects an entire portfolio of success at Wharton. Always humble, Andrew was quick to deflect the recognition and point out that he had some inherent advantages (less recruiting obligations, the chance to take more electives in his first year), before encouraging first years to “take the most interesting classes they can find.”

 

William G. McGowan Fellow

 

The McGowan Fellow Award, awarded to one rising second-year student at ten of the nation’s top MBA Programs, celebrates the “transformative power of education” and celebrates leadership and academic accomplishment. McGowan Fellows receive a full scholarship ($60,000+) for their second year as well as an invitation to the yearly McGowan Fellows Conference.

 

The Wharton 2012 William G. McGowan Fellow, Eva Liu, personifies passion. An unassuming woman with a fire-bright spirit, her reputation preceded her. Naomi Tschoegl, Interim Director of Academics gushed about Eva, “she was totally committed to everything she took on and earned the respect of those she worked with.” What impressed this author most was the steadfastness of her conviction. Eva Co-Chairs both the Wharton Women in Business Conference and the Social Impact Conference. She is the Co-President of Say Yes to Education, an organization at Wharton dedicated to tutoring in Philadelphia High Schools. Eva and like-minded students carry the banner of Wharton’s new “Social Impact” initiative and offer a prequel to a more socially-oriented future for business.

 

Class of 2014 Awards

 

When profiling GPA scholarship winners, it’s tempting to attribute their success to any number of factors: easier classes, excessive amounts of work, or unconscionable sacrifices of social and extracurricular activities. These three Whartonites challenge those assumptions through their varied commitments—to academics, to leadership, and to serving others. This Spring, the MBAPO will begin the search for the next award winners. For those of you with a top-tier GPA, we wish you all the best, you have big shoes to fill.

 

Authors

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