Looking Back at First Year

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  1. What has been your best and worst moments of your first year?

Sara Leitner: Best: Working with all my amazing classmates, getting to know them and learning about what they are passionate about! I’m blown away by the excitement and commitment our class has to making things happen. 

Worst: Probably the stress of recruiting. It’s been tough to go through that myself but also see your classmates struggle!

Neal Sengupta: In my role as Cluster President, the best moment was when our Cluster (the C2 Dragons) won spirit points at the first Cluster Cup events we organized – spirit points involve having the highest turnout and most passionate participation at Cluster Cup events. Working with our Cluster Council (Wharton’s equivalent of 1st year student government) showed me how a handful of very passionate, hardworking people can make a huge difference in the Wharton experience for fellow classmates. 

Personally, my best moment involved meeting so many close friends that will absolutely be by my side for the rest of my life. Even the rowdiest, biggest partiers I’m friends with ultimately have tremendous depth and strong character. Connecting deeply with people has been such a rewarding experience. 

By far, the absolute worst moment at Wharton was when racist cyberattacks were made on African American Penn freshmen in November. It was horrible to see how much these 18-year old students were affected in their first year away from home, and I was so personally disgusted I was brought to tears. However, the response we organized and the outreach of the Wharton MBA community was inspiring, and convinced me that our generation has a lot of potential to come together and make the world better. 

Chase Jones: For me, the best and worst moments tie into each other – one of the lowest points of entire year was the horrendous GroupMe thread that targeted the undergrads, which made everybody take a step back in their perspective on what was happening right on our own campus. Still, out of the terrible actions and circumstances that were at play – one of the greatest absolute highlights of my entire experience at Wharton was watching fellow classmates respond. The immediate actions to embrace those affected was incredible to be a part of. While we didn’t get it 100% perfect, the overwhelming desire to act will be something I will never forget.

Antonia Singleton: Best: My fun fact prior to coming to Wharton was that I had never left North America. One of the best moments of my 1st year was leaving the country for the 1st time to travel to Cuba with some of the most dope people at Wharton. It was during this trip that I learned I could trust to share my story with people I have grown to love and trust like family. This trip was filled with so many 1st times (#buckelistitems) and is still one of my most favorite travel trips at Wharton. Worst: Losing my learning teammate, Benji. 


  1. What was your biggest Challenge?

SL: There are so many things going on at Wharton. It can be tough to make sure every knows all the awesome things that are going on and trying to connect everyone to the resources they need to pull that off. 

NS: Professionally, I came from a background in finance where I frequently received intense, real-time feedback from my senior colleagues. When I arrived at Wharton, I had that same mentality – I was very direct and was very goal-oriented rather than process-oriented. I think my time here has led me to become more conscious of how I communicate with people. I am a much more easy-going person than I was six months ago, and am trying to become less neurotic about everything I do. 

CJ: Hands down, experiencing the loss of a fellow classmate in Benji Schuttler was the most trying time as a Wharton student. Any loss is difficult, but in this scenario, when so much effort at school is put into relationships, Benji’s passing was extremely painful to wrap thoughts around, and even more challenging in how to respond from a 1Y at Wharton. While we are still mourning such a significant loss, knowing that we will honor Benji ongoing with the Benjamin Schuttler Award for Perseverance and Community Impact is an awesome way to carry on his legacy.

AS: Staying focused at school, while also balancing family responsibilities back home. My mother was admitted to the hospital just two months before I started Wharton for cardiac arrest. She ended up losing her battle to Lupus last month. It is still difficult most days, but I feel like I have developed a strong community at Wharton as well as back home that I can go to for support during times like these.  


  1. Anything you’re looking forward to doing/trying in the second year?

SL: I’m really excited to be a part of WGA next year to work on some of those pain points I’ve seen throughout the year. And of course, sharpening up my skates again for a second season on the ice with Wildmen Hockey on the Shooting Blanks!

NS: I’ve met a lot of amazing people throughout my first year here. I’ve formed a ton of deep friendships. However, there are also many people I want to get to know better, and many activities I want to participate in to broaden my experiences. I’ve done many of the things I was already good at, but want to do more things that force me to face failure. 

CJ: Fight Night 2018? Here we go. Actually, no way I’m not brave enough (shout out to Cooper Bradley and Jock Payten for the memory of a lifetime and committing to never going fisticuffs with anybody in the Boxing Club). What I do want to try – making a professor lunch, getting one Finance question right in class, and proving that Irish may be the best bar in America.  

AS: Hosting a small group dinner or planning a small trek! I feel like I had the opportunity to get to know people on a more personal level during trips or in small group settings. I want lots more of this next year!


  1. What do you think Wharton’s brand is after a year at Wharton?

SL: Wharton really is a choose your own adventure. For me, the Wharton brand has been about leadership, lifelong friendships and new experiences everywhere you look. 

NS: Holistic student-led immersion – in every professional, social, and personal aspect, this place immerses you. I’ve learned so much outside of the classroom from all the talented people I am surrounded by. You can only learn so much from a textbook or a lecture – but facing intense situations outside of the classroom with so many intelligent people is how Wharton has differentiated itself from the other top MBA programs. Every club, conference, social event, or panel is organized by passionate students. You are forced to become a leader here, and that’s exactly what makes this place great. 

CJ: It sounds over the top, it sounds cliché, it sounds corny, but I think the brand is centered around one thing: family. I’ve never been in a community where it is so OK and embraced to try and fail and try and fail and try and then make unreal connections along the way. Kind of like my own immediate family, just with a lot more failing in Finance. Net present value for the win.

AS: Down-to-earth. Given the many different backgrounds that we all come from, the one thing I have been able to count on from the majority of the people I have met at Wharton is that we are down-to-earth. 


  1. What advice would you give to the new admits?

SL: Focus on two or three things that you’re really excited about here at Wharton. It gives you the ability to take a deep dive and learn a lot about those things, and in turn, a lot about yourself!

NS: You should join the Wharton Class of 2019. Don’t be an idiot. I came to Wharton over other top ranked programs for very idiosyncratic reasons, and did have concerns that I perhaps did not make the best choice for myself. Within a handful of days, I realized this place is perfect for everyone. The inclusive culture created by the students here is unparalleled – whether you are international, from the US, an extrovert, an introvert…I can honestly say every person does have a place here. Also, its not an easy place – you will be exhausted, you will be upset at times, you will be stressed, but without facing those things you will not be able to transform in the way you want. Reach out to me if you ever want someone to talk to about how to make your experience here better. Also – important note – if you ever wear ‘insta-tatoos,’ they take forever to scrub off, so try to not put them on your face.

CJ: I was so overwhelmed when I got here. Everybody is awesome – to the degree I felt inadequate. I once thought bundling in MGEC referred to Clementine oranges being sold in an actual bundle (pro tip: it doesn’t refer to that). But- Kembrel puts it best – in the real world, you don’t get an applause every day for anything you do. In that vein – go fail. It’s awesome. The community here will pick you back up every single time. Just ask my cohort – their backs hurt for carrying me through the entirety of our first semester.

AS: “Know yourself, know your worth. Be You!” #IssaVibe 


Sara Leitner, WG’18, President of Cluster 1

Neal Sengupta, WG’18, President of Cluster 2

Chase Jones, WG’18, President of Cluster 3

Antonia Singleton, WG’18, President of Cluster 4


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