From The Quad: With A Little Help From My Friends

After an all-nighter at Huntsman, the teammates never found the answer they needed. They only found lifelong friendships.

By Casey Klyszeiko, W’10

Jon M. Huntsman Hall is perhaps one of the most elegant academic buildings you’ll find anywhere, and I believe every Wharton student should feel honored and grateful to step foot inside.

That’s how I usually feel, at least.

At 5:35 a.m., however, after three Wawa trips, two jogs around the building and one brief nap on a desk in the forum, my team’s fruitless struggle to solve that finance problem (I forget the details, but it had something to do with gold) had stripped the building of its appeal.

We endured another half-hour of failure, and even tried some last-minute energy boosters (including a few Shania Twain songs), but it eventually became apparent that ours was an exercise in futility. So at last, sometime around 6:30—about 12 hours after we started—we decided to chalk the whole thing up to market inefficiencies and grab some breakfast to celebrate a night well spent.

I honestly can’t recall the exact question or the class. But I do remember each and every one of my team members—their hometowns, their hobbies, their concentrations, their favorite music. We didn’t get the coveted “check-plus” on that finance assignment, but I am certain I met a group of friends that I will know for a lifetime. Those four people turned out to be great friends, and even though several have graduated, I still speak with them all regularly. And while I know it may be another 10 or 20 years until we will see each other again (probably at an Alumni Weekend), when we do, I can guarantee that one of us will bring up the night in Huntsman Hall, listening to Shania Twain, struggling with that question.

When I reflect back on the last three years at Wharton, these are the kind of memories that surface—memories of the people I met here and how they shaped my experiences. Yes, Wharton offers us endless academic opportunities, but I believe the people have given me just as much. I will remember them for the rest of my life, and the experiences we have shared are what define my Wharton education.

I currently serve as a co-chair of the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, which works with the Dean and the Undergraduate Division to shape the undergraduate experience. Through this Board, I have been exposed to a number of unbelievable individuals who have become a family to me. During each information session the Board gives to recruit new members, we each say what we love most about our experience. My response, invariably, is: “The people.”

I really mean it.

When I was accepted onto the Board, I was a shy, unworldly, introverted kid from Burlington. Immediately upon my arrival, my mentor and the other members of the Board encouraged me to voice my opinion—and to aggressively pursue my passions. I’ll be honest: It was tough at first. But with their encouragement, constant friendship and genuine interest in my success, I developed true self confidence.

Whether it was their help with class projects, their advice and tips for interviews, their willingness to grab a cup of coffee after a hard week, or most importantly, their ability to always—always—point out my strengths when I could not see them, they have made all the difference. I have accomplished some great things here at Wharton, and this has given me the confidence that I will need to be successful after graduation, too. But behind every accomplishment, I believe, were my friends.

Today, I certainly can discount a cash flow, explain GAAP and describe different management structures. But I can also tell you about the countless times I learned equally valuable lessons—about life, business and leadership—from those with whom I shared these years.

As I prepare to leave Wharton, I would tell new undergraduates and prospective students the same thing I told our new freshmen this year at New Student Orientation—to get involved, to be bold, to take an interest, to make an impact.

The many people—students, faculty and staff—with whom I have interacted here all told me the same. They also taught me how to do it. That’s why I owe them so much, and will miss them so dearly.

Casey Klyszeiko, W’10, is from Burlington, Vermont.

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