The Last Stretch Experience

When I was applying to Wharton almost 3 years ago, I learned the term “stretch experience.” “A what?” I remember asking my friend who was WG’13. “It’s a term used at Wharton. It’s about pushing yourself. At Wharton, people sign up for activities that physically and mentally stretch themselves. Push boundaries and learn from it. All the learning isn’t just in the classroom.”

Would I be able to stretch myself I wondered? I wondered how I could stretch myself. I joined hockey and as a 5’1 female with no athletic ability and who has never played a team sport before that definitely felt like a stretch. I ran a 5K. I realize how ridiculous that sounds but I had never done one before and I’m really glad I did it.

I’ve spoken in front of a room full of friends and people I’ve never met before to tell them about my love for Tastycake Krimpets and the time when I thought I went too far in order to conform. I’ve written articles in the Journal about branching out of the Wharton bubble and checking out the city of Philadelphia. I remember the first time I sat down to write that article though. I was scared that the things I wrote on my list wouldn’t be good enough and worried about putting them down on paper. In hindsight that was silly because I got a great response. Also, I’ve run into more than a few friends on dates outside of the bubble. I take great pride in in those recommendations.

I’ve earned a business degree – taken math, econ, and stats classes after not looking at numbers since graduating high school (Brown had no required math classes for better or worse). I’ve doubled the number of countries I’ve traveled to in my lifetime. I’ve made friends from all over the world. I’ve also taken great pride in seeing my classmates stretch. I’ve been in awe watching my classmates strut down the runway. I’ve been mesmerized by the sheer musical talent our school holds (I’m looking at you Follies Cast and BOTB rock stars). I’ve laughed during Follies (I’m looking at you Follies Writers) and the Comedy Show. I’ve also reflected from the articles written in the Journal. I’ve been impressed by trials and tribulations people have shared during their Leadership Lectures. You all have made Wharton what it is and it wouldn’t have been possible without your stretch experiences.

That’s why I have a proposition. Let our last stretch experience not be at Wharton. If you love telling jokes, I hope you’ll look for an open mic night at a comedy club. If it’s stories, I hope you’ll look for storytelling events in the cities you move to. If it’s modeling, I think that might be trickier, but if it’s music or dancing or writing I hope you find outlets for your creativity. I know it’s not easy to take an art class or sign up for an ice hockey league once we go out into the real world but I hope we’ll try. I hope I’ll do an equivalent of a leadership venture one day. I hope we’ll all still travel even if its just one country a year and only for a week. I know all of my learning didn’t occur in the classroom and I hope it won’t all occur at my next job whatever that may be.

WG’15 –

I know the lessons we’ve learned and experiences we’ve had will probably be more obvious from the distance than they are right now. If I’m taking anything with me though it’s the ability to push myself and learn from it. If you weren’t already a maximizer when you got to Wharton you definitely are one as you’re leaving and I hope you’re better for it. I know I am.

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