Like many of you, I have been kicked out of a GSR too many times to count. My most memorable eviction happened last August. She was a first-year student, and when she realized that I was a wise second-year, she asked me, “Wait! Before you leave, tell me, what has been your best experience at Wharton so far?”
I thought about it. And then I told her, “It was the end of my 3-year relationship.” I know, I know. Let me explain.
You see, my best experience wasn’t a single event. It was a journey — a series of small conversations and shared experiences with my classmates — all of you — that helped me discover the kind of person that I wanted to be and the kind of person that I could be.
Like my conversations with Deeksha and Juan, who slowly but steadily convinced me that HEY, I am NOT DEATHLY afraid of public speaking. I’m just VERY, VERY afraid.
Or my life chats with Alex and Tian, who helped me see that my past endeavors as a singer-songwriter, and my current passion for whimsical storytelling were not totally irrelevant to business, but actually completely compatible with a post-MBA career in immersive entertainment.
And the day-in day-out efforts of Prathama, who has helped so many of us at Wharton think more critically about what it means to succeed in business and in social justice, and how to leave behind a legacy that outlives you.
It would be impossible for me to list the small and large ways in which I admire and have learned from each of you. Although, as many of you know, I can’t help trying to do it anyway when I have had a glass or two of wine.
I have admired the kings and queens of GroupMe comedy (you know who you are…. Reid and Lauren). And I have seen total selflessness, kindness, and love in moments of crisis (shout-outs to Ioana, Piyush, and my LF family).
Collectively, you have helped me to say “Yes” to the formidable and say “No” to the nonessential.
You have helped me to see my shortcomings more sharply, but also to recognize that our flaws and strengths are two sides of the same coin. What drives our flaws are the same underlying talents that manifest as our greatest strengths. And we should embrace that, unabashedly.
Look, many of us came to business school with well-ingrained narratives of ourselves, our values, and our limits. But, as I told my first-year while she evicted me from the GSR, the best part of Wharton is the opportunity to rethink and redefine the limits of who we are and what we want in this life.
Sometimes that self-discovery comes with endings. Like, the end of a 3-year relationship that wasn’t meant to be. Or, the end of a 10-minute GSR session that also wasn’t meant to be.
And that’s why, I want to say to the Class of 2018: Thank you. Thank you for helping me redefine who I want to be, and, hopefully, for allowing me to help you do the same. It has been a tremendous honor, and truly, my best Wharton experience.