The first day back on campus felt a little anticlimactic. Having spent most of the summer in Philadelphia, it seemed ordinary returning to Huntsman and riding the escalators. In the days before classes started things were pretty empty – the first years were off talking about their feelings with their learning teams and I was left thinking about my feelings in a GSR next to a GSR with a stressed out undergrad and a sign that said Knowledge for Action. I suspect I am not the only one who has ever found themselves wondering whether this was the right place to be and whether all the money and time was really worth it. Leaving that day, weighed down by some random WGA drama, the upcoming year loomed.
But a funny thing happened the next time I showed up, a day or two later. First, it was the face of a friend I met in pre-term last year. Then, a girl from my cluster who has the ability to brighten anyone’s day with her positivity and smile. A guy from my learning team who I bonded with over hours and hours of marketing cases and simulation failures (we didn’t go to Eastern Europe). A group of friends came in and we went for the group hug. A couple bros traded handshakes and bro back slaps. People swapped stories of internships and travel, of hours in front of Excel and hours in exotic locations. One guy described taking time off work Friday night around midnight to early Sunday morning as “a pretty good lifestyle.” I sat down in the MBA Café and felt something I had never anticipated and had never considered until that point.
I love the people I have met at Wharton.
As an incoming student, I would never have believed returning to a school of 1600 would feel so comfortable or homely. I never expected that after two months back in the real world coming back to the smiling faces of friends would be as fulfilling as it has been. I never reflected until the last few weeks the depth of impact we have on each other’s lives.
We find ourselves at an inflection point. Each of our classes has a unique charge to make this the year it can be…
Second years: be the leaders that you can be. Recognize where the opportunities are to invest in the first year class. Spend the precious time we have remaining strengthening your bonds with each other and your classmates. Help Wharton become the place it set out to be over the last five years—a vibrant, inclusive environment.
First years: jump in head first. Seek out opportunities to lead and to serve. Make an active point of connecting with second years and make sure you give back where you can. Challenge the way we have approached problems and support us in our often feeble efforts to show you the way. Make your own mark on Wharton and make it bold.
In doing so—in accepting and relishing the opportunity we have—we can make this place even more memorable. Wharton can change your outlook on life for the better and challenge you in ways you hadn’t imagined, but it takes hard work and it takes a commitment to each other. Go make it happen.