First Impressions: From a Dragon’s Diary

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Green is…scratch that…green was never my color. Until a month ago, the only green item in my apartment was a nine-year old Boston Celtics foam finger (because it is sacrilegious to live in Boston for almost a decade and not own at least one Celtics item). And now, I have three T-shirts in varying shades of green, two pairs of green shades, a green bandana, and a pair of socks in the brightest green you can imagine. What the Boston Celtics could not accomplish in nine years, Wharton did in 34 days. How? It made me a Cluster 2 Dragon from the Wharton Class of 2018. And, life will never be the same again.

Before Pre-Term, I viewed the cluster/cohort system only as a practical tool that Wharton uses to make the 850-person class less overwhelming for first years. However, within the first few days of Pre-Term, I realized how this system was pivotal in shaping our first identities at Wharton and giving us an automatic community to belong to.

Pre-Term kicked off with the Cluster 2 Assistant Director Kristen Auch (aka Mother of Dragons) having to coax the 200 of us into chanting about breathing fire. But by the end of that week, we were creating our own chants. When we met other first years, we were asking what clusters they belonged to before asking them what they did in their previous lives. We began to take as much pride in being a Cluster 2 Dragon as we did in being a Wharton student and that transformation is an incredible experience to be a part of.

I was surprised at how quickly I also took on the cluster identity but between the 60-second lectures, the small group dinners, the SLFamilies, and Cluster Cup, Pre-Term is designed not only to foster a communal cluster identity but also to take pride in that identity. Cluster Cup in particular was crucial to building this pride because it created a platform for all of us to contribute our individual strengths toward a larger goal. After all, if you tell a group of high performing individuals that they need to work together to win, by God will they win. Case in point: how our team came together to dominate as Dance Champions!

While I love belonging to this community, I am most excited about learning how my classmates are defining their own Wharton identities beyond this. Not everyone drinks the (cluster) Kool Aid in the same way and it is that difference that makes Wharton such an exciting place to discover. Our clusters are merely a starting point to build new communities across different interests and experiences. And I cannot wait to be even more overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people, activities, and interests waiting to be explored in the next two years.

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