Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why Penn?

Something that I find to be kind of cool is that my answer to the question “Why Penn?” as a senior in college is pretty different from the one I would have given when I decided to apply early decision as a senior in high school.  When I applied to Penn, I wrote in my essay that Penn fit my top priorities: “academic excellence, school spirit, manageable size, and a beautiful campus.” I also discussed the residential house programs and the wide array of student activities. While all of these are true representations of what Penn offers, they are not what I would use to answer the question “Why Penn?” today.
            After four years on Penn’s campus, I’ve come to realize that one of the greatest offerings Penn provides is both the quantity and quality of opportunities that you encounter throughout your time on campus and beyond. At any institution you attend, there will be doors that open for you to take advantage of, but the great thing about Penn is what those doors are. Opportunities like the submatriculation program into the graduate school of engineering, study abroad (as an engineer), undergraduate research opportunities through PURM and Rachleff Scholars, and the engineering entrepreneurship program are all doors that I ended up walking through that I didn’t even know were options when I applied to the University. All of them were great learning experiences that were influential in helping me identify my interests in the healthcare industry and product development, both of which are key components of the job that I will be starting post-graduation.

            Along with the incredible resources and opportunities that Penn provides, one of the best things about Penn is that you’re constantly surrounded by smart, driven people with an incredibly diverse range of interests. The conversations I’ve had with other Penn students or Penn professors about what they are passionate about are ones that I will look back on fondly. And having people respectfully challenge my opinions or ask detailed questions about what I am interested in so that I am forced to delve deeper and gain a better understanding, that has been one of the greatest benefits of going to an institution like Penn; the people around you are engaging and curious and eager to learn, which creates a community that encourages out-of-the-box, critical thinking and problem solving.

            Let’s be honest, no institution is perfect and there have been times when I have wondered what my life would be like had I gone somewhere else. But then I look back at how much I have grown throughout my time at college and how Penn has contributed to that, and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have spent the last four years here.

Emily is a senior graduating in May with an undergraduate and master's in Systems Engineering.   Questions for Emily?  Contact her at

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