Building Our Smaller Community
- by Angela Rice
Because Penn is such a big school, it is important to find smaller communities. Out of the 2,500 people in my class, I am part of the smaller Wharton community of about 500 people. Even 500 people are too many to meet in your first month of school or even during your first year of school. I started by making friends in my classes and clubs, and I was lucky enough to find a great group of supportive people within the Joseph Wharton Scholars (JWS) community.
Freshman year, I took my introductory economics course with 25 other JWS students, and because the class was so small I was able to build strong relationships with my peers—relationships that transferred over to other classes.
Unfortunately, as a sophomore, I no longer see all of the JWS students for economics class every Tuesday and Thursday from 3 – 4:30 p.m., but I do see many of them in my other JWS classes and other seminars associated with the program. Even outside specified JWS seminars, if I see a JWS member in any of my classes, we usually end up sitting together, forming a study group and working together on group projects.
Joseph Wharton Scholars are a group of students within Wharton who have a variety of interests in addition to a passion for business. Not only do we take all of the Wharton courses, but we are also encouraged to take seminars in the College. Last year, I took a seminar about food in the Islamic Middle East. It was exciting to be in a class of about 15 students, actively discussing our thoughts, feelings and opinions about the readings. I was able to connect with upperclassman in the JWS program as well as with students not associated with the program. Many of the students in the class had been to the Middle East and were able to share their experiences. I was able to learn about a culture that I was previously uniformed about and also got to eat a lot of great food that our professor made for us each week.
The Wharton classes I have taken through the program have been equally engaging, although not as delicious. I am currently taking legal studies with JWS students, and not a class goes by where I don’t have to defend my assertions in response to questions from my professor and my peers.
I have been enjoying my experience in the JWS program so much that I applied to be on the board for the program. I was chosen to be a part of the board, and now I also enjoy working to organize activities that bring JWS students and JWS alumni together. I look forward to taking more courses through the program because I always find the classes and the people in the program engaging and inspiring.