By David Teetzen WG ’14
I officially came to Wharton wanting to change careers. Even though I had been at Amazon for five years, it had always been my dream to work for the airline industry. But I really came to Wharton in search of myself. I had moderate professional success and was fairly certain I could handle the academic requirements (I overestimated myself there a bit). But I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone, to identify and conquer my insecurities, and to find confidence that would support me in the next phase of my life.
When I first arrived, I was genuinely scared that I wouldn’t make it through the next two years. I was intimidated by my classmates, overwhelmed by academics and clubs, and felt like the odd man out in the middle of crazy parties. But little by little, I met absolutely amazing people who were genuinely interested in getting to know me and be someone I could count on for support and compassion. I found the one person who for some reason was a genius at microeconomics and helped get through problem set after problem set. I found another who could be the life of every party we went to and would always go out of their way to introduce me to, well, everyone. And I found the multiple people who I could be completely myself with, who would listen to my drunken rambles at 3 am at Little Pete’s, and who would drop everything to watch TV with me on a bad day. The people of Wharton got me to where I am today and I know they will likely be responsible for much of my future success.
The positive experiences of this school are too many to count. Each of us could name our favorite club moment, trip, party, maybe even a class project that pushed you past your intellectual boundaries. But Wharton was not all positive and I think that’s actually where you learn the most about yourself. I had many ups and downs in my personal life during my time here. I battled an anxiety disorder for most of my second year, something not even most of my friends know about. I left Hunstman feeling defeated many times after yet another class in which I didn’t learn something or a team meeting that made the federal government look productive. I failed to stay close with my friends and family on the outside world, a choice I consciously made, but was still painful at times.
But now that I’m finally at the end, I realize the painful moments are the reason I look back with such fondness on this school. Everyone can push him or herself to get through a tough finance exam. But deciding to push through the worst moments of your life and overcome the pressure we put on ourselves as students and people is what defines us as personal successes. It’ll make us excellent leaders as we use our experience to help others.
We now leave as graduates of this school, and as clichéd as it sounds, we are responsible for the future of this institution. I know that Wharton didn’t mean as much to other people as it did to me, but based on the people I’ve met, I hope you are each proud of your accomplishments here. I have watched all of you do amazing things, and hope that you counted on me as much as I counted on you. It’s my goal to continue to be supportive of all of you even after we graduate, and I hope we each share that mentality.
I’ll leave you with two quotes from equally inspiring people that give very different messages about how to act as “humble” Wharton graduates. The first, from Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” The second, from Dr. B. Kembrel Jones: “We went to fucking Wharton.” Congratulations, and thank you for making Wharton what it was to me.