It was May and I was on a small island off the coast of Croatia. In one hand, I held the world’s most delicious frozen Limoncello and in the other, my brand new graphing calculator. The crashing waves and smell of freshly grilled seafood were not helping me learn how to take a derivative. And yet, the dreaded Math Proficiency Exam awaited.
The closest I had ever come to calculus before May, was my senior year of high school, when I took a conceptual calculus class. Calculators and textbooks were strictly forbidden. Imagination was the only tool we were allowed to use. Thus, to say I was concerned about passing the exam was a mild understatement.
My worries didn’t stop there. Prior to Wharton, I was at a nonprofit that offered business consulting and training to small businesses in conflict-affected regions, and I worked mostly with entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. I came to Wharton with basic business and management acumen but was concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my peers, many of whom had taken core classes before and worked in more ‘traditional’ fields.
I was right to be nervous. My classes are all rigorous and analytical, the problem sets challenging, and the exams even harder.
What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the immense support I would receive from my learning team, second years, and new friends from a whole host of clubs. I found guidance at every turn.
What I’ve come to understand is that regardless of your background, you are going to find academic challenges here. (And if you don’t, you are squandering a very expensive two-year opportunity.) For instance, while I struggled through microeconomics, several of my friends with more traditional backgrounds floundered through the core management class I easily handled. It was reassuring to help edit papers after weeks of leaning on friends for assistance with problem sets.
This type of support speaks to the very core of Wharton, and why I have been able to thrive here. The Wharton community is the most generous one I have ever been in. It’s a place that cares for its own deeply and supports people in all their endeavors, whether it is homework, pitching a new business or even belly dancing in a crop top in front of 300 people. This is a community that encourages risk-taking by making it safe.
My transition to Wharton wasn’t always easy, in fact, there was plenty of academic struggle along the way. But from the minute I moved to Philadelphia, I’ve been surrounded by an incredible, supportive community that has made my Wharton experience an amazing one and allowed me to shape this past year into the learning experience I was seeking.
- Welcome to Wharton! by WGA President Zach Kahn
- He Said / She Said: Experiencing Wharton as an Introvert
- Black and Brown @ Wharton
- Why Being a Partner is a Better Deal
- The Value of a Leadership Venture
- We’re Here, We’re Queer, and We Throw a Damn Good Party