By Arielle Lafuente
Every April during Penn Preview Days, Wharton Ambassadors welcome newly admitted students to campus to share insight into the unique Wharton experience and to convey the variety of interests that we as a student body passionately pursue. This year marked my fifth time at the event, and every year Penn Preview Days served as a time for me to look back on all my accomplishments.
As a prospective student attending my first Penn Preview Days, I felt nervous anticipation. I wasn’t sure what my classmates would be like or whether I would fit in, but as soon as I set foot on campus I felt at home and couldn’t wait to start school in the fall.
During my sophomore year, I was asked to speak about my experiences during the Wharton International Program’s social impact trip to Brazil. To this day, my fellow classmates jest with me about how “AHMAZING ” this trip was, imitating my uncontained enthusiasm. This was my first time seeing how our differences can unify us as students, how a group can come together to learn from each individual’s unique perspective. I made lifelong friendships on this trip. Whether through reflecting about the families we had helped during the bus ride back after volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, bonding while swimming in the waters off Ipanema, discussing what “sustainability” means with Brazilian executives or being helped to overcome my fear of heights at the top of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado, my new friends and I felt honored to share in each other’s experiences.
Penn Preview Days during my junior year came after I had survived “the core.” Once on the other side, I realized I had academic passions for OPIM and management, but finance? I was still unsure. To help find the answer, I participated in a Global Modular Course in London. I was one of two undergrads in a class of roughly 50 Wharton Executive MBAs and MBAs, who took us in and mentored us. This was my first real taste of the camaraderie that exists among all Wharton students and alumni, and the MBAs helped me learn what would be the right career for me.
The last few months of my senior year were a fitting end to my time at Wharton. Not only because we seniors gallivanted throughout Philadelphia in the annual Feb Club tradition, but also because it was rewarding to be a part of this celebration of all that we accomplished.
I was able to close the semester with three of my closest friends as part of a case team at the Copenhagen Business School Case Competition. If only that shy, nervous, prospective student from Penn Preview Days five years ago could have seen me then, presenting to the CEO of Saxobank and many of Denmark’s leading chairmen.
In my final days as a senior, I passed the torch to a new group of students eager to make a difference. As Vice Dean Georgette Chapman Phillips says each year at Penn Previews Days, “Wharton is a suit that you will grow into throughout your time here.” I know that after my four years at Wharton I wear my suit proudly, and I am confident that the next group of students will tailor extraordinary suits of their own.
Arielle Lafuente, W’12, graduated with a concentration in Operations & Information Management and Management. She was co-president of Wharton Ambassadors, a co-chair for Seniors for the Penn Fund and a research fellow for the Wharton Sports Business Initiative. She grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. In the fall, she will move to London to work for American Express in its strategic planning group.