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Learning from the Experts
Olivia | December 6, 2017

After coming back from Thanksgiving break to a week packed with one major assignment and two midterms (yes, midterms still happen two weeks before finals begin), I was ready to relax and take a break from late nights at the library. Every week, I see tons of events on Facebook that are happening at Penn, but there always seems to be something going on, whether it’s a midterm or club meeting or Frisbee practice. But this week, after finishing a stressful few days on Wednesday, I decided to finally take advantage of the events offered and went to three speaker events on Wednesday and Thursday.

The first was an event that was part of Adam Grant’s Authors@Wharton series and featured an interview with Walter Isaacson. It was pretty amazing to be able to hear him speak after reading his book over the summer, The Innovators, which Penn required all freshmen to read to introduce this year as the “Year of Innovation” at Penn. He also talked about writing Steve Jobs’ and Leonardo da Vinci’s biographies. One of the most striking things he said was that in the successful people he’s studied, especially Leonardo da Vinci, there exists a relentless, passionate curiosity about everything in the world around them. He advised us as Penn students to not box ourselves into one or two areas of study, but stay curious and interested in everything and to never hesitate to learn more.

Later that day, one of my friends was hosting a speaker event for the Wharton Undergraduate Giving Society Club. Diana Lovett, the founder of Cissé Cocoa Co, came to speak to us about her experiences in entrepreneurship and the struggles and triumphs she’s gone through in her career. It was a small, intimate event and we were each able to converse with her and ask her questions. Afterwards, she gave us her contact information and genuinely wanted to get to know each of us. It was especially impactful for me because I know I want to be involved at a startup at some point and I loved hearing her very real, very honest story.

Finally, I got to see Angela Duckworth speak, a woman who I’ve admired since reading her book, Grit, last year, and who is a very well known professor of Psychology and a researcher at Penn. I was amazed at just how normal and charismatic she was, arriving in jeans and a t-shirt with an eagerness to hear our thoughts and questions as students. It was amazing to hear someone who I’d read and heard so much about speak about her work and her interests in a way that was so relatable to all of us.

It was so nice to be able to take a step back this week, after pouring over lecture notes and stressing over finishing my work, to hear from three extremely successful, but also very honest and genuine individuals who, as I was reminded, were all once students like us, too! Angela Duckworth admitted that she didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career until she was in her thirties, which was so nice to hear as a college freshmen struggling to know what classes to take or what to do for the summer. There are so many different paths people can take to get where they’re eventually supposed to be, and you can never hear that too often. Taking advantage of all Penn’s resources and listening to people I admire and look up to talk about their struggles reminded me that I have so many opportunities, and that no matter what path I take, I will figure it out.

About the author

I am from Wilmington, Delaware, studying Computer Science with interests in creative writing, art, entrepreneurship, and data science. On-campus, I'm involved in a publication, a volunteer organization, religious life, and Greek life. I've loved learning more about Penn and the students here and taking advantage of all the great opportunities Penn and Philly have to offer. In my free time, I love running, cooking, exploring the city, and spending time with friends and family.

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