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Penn Admissions Blog

Finding Avenue for New Passions
Seung-Hyun | September 10, 2017

Like many Penn students, I was involved in multiple extracurricular activities in high school. When I came to Penn, I expected to somewhat do the same, but also try some different activities as well. However, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of applications that I needed to do to even participate in club activities. Most of all, I felt a feeling of inadequacy when comparing myself to other students who had already done an array of fabulous and formidable ventures, especially in the arts. I ended up joining a bunch of literary magazines and copyediting opportunities as a freshman — things that I was already used to and knew that I could do well in. Being a prospective English major, I initially thought the best work I could do was in journalism and magazine (little did I know how much I hated that work).

As a senior now, I am not involved with any of the activities that I did as a freshman. It’s strange to think of how many random things I joined, applied, got rejected, and dropped silently throughout the past three years. Some people might criticize me for not being committed, but really, I jumped around so much because I sought out for passions that felt both new and distinct from what I’ve usually been engaged with. Fast forward to now: I’ve just completed directing a modern adaptation of the Greek tragedy Antigone for PenNaatak, a Penn Theatre group focused on global, contemporary issues. I didn’t expect myself to delve so deeply into theatre in college. One random audition for a play the end of my freshman year led to an opportunity to perform, write a play, and now, direct. These serendipitous incidents have formed my core passion for theatre and have taught me how much I need to be open-minded and spontaneous about my growing interests.

Advice to prospective students: you don’t have to stick with what you’ve done in high school. Penn has so many niches and opportunities to do things that you may have never expected to have fun with. I never thought playwriting would become such a core passion of mine, and I can’t imagine what my life at Penn would’ve been like if I had not spontaneously entered that audition room. Be experimental — this is the time for it.

About the author

I'm majoring in English with minors in Asian American Studies and Theatre Arts. As an aspiring multidisciplinary scholar and artist, I love to theorize and philosophize - basically overthinking too much about anything and everything. I am strongly passionate about civil and human rights, social and environmental justice, and just about anything that involves helping people and empathizing beyond boundaries. I hope to combine my activist/scholarly interests with my artistic practice in theater, film, and storytelling! 

I was born in Busan, South Korea, but moved to the flat suburbs of Southern California when I was six. I decided to come to Penn partially because I needed public transport and hated driving. Living in Philly has been full of new discoveries and growths, and I'm so glad to have called this place my home for the past three years. I've also traveled extensively during my time at Penn, interning in Israel and India and studying abroad in London. Hoping to wander some more this year and after graduation!

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