Wharton Winter Welcome Weekend Part I: The Introduction
This past weekend I went to Philadelphia for the Wharton Winter Welcome Weekend (I partly wondered if they held it in wintertime just to add another W to the name). I was already pretty set on attending Wharton, but of course was curious to meet my potential future classmates, check out the campus, and see the city, which despite having lived 5.5 years close by in DC, I had never visited. I was disappointed that the Florida weather didn’t follow me to Philly, and realized that after 2 years in Africa I would have to quickly readjust to living up north. Luckily, the Wharton Welcome Committee kept us so busy I hardly noticed the cold.
I met my new classmates Friday morning in our 70-person Homeroom cluster, where we went around the room with rapid-fire introductions: name, where you attended undergrad, where you’re working now, and one fun fact. I began to notice a trend: consultant, investment banker, private equity. I realized I was one of five working and living abroad, one of three with a background in marketing and communications, and definitely the only one running an advertising agency in East Africa. When the introductory domino finally fell to me, I had my spiel prepared:
“Hi my name is Mary Patton, yes it’s a double name, it’s a Southern thing, I also go by MP. [This was already enough to catch people’s attention] I went to Georgetown undergrad, and I’ve lived in Kigali, Rwanda for the past two years working as Director of Operations at Creaxion/Ogilvy advertising agency. [Classmates are overtly staring at me at this point] And for my fun fact… I’ve been teaching yoga in East Africa and co-founded a yoga company in Kigali, we’ve hired four instructors and teach out of four locations. [Complete silence and strange looks around the room] Ehm… business was good.” [I quickly shift to look at my colleague to the right to cue his introduction]
Needless to say, throughout the weekend after meeting a new classmate they would respond, “Oh yeah, you’re the Southerner who lives in Africa doing yoga!”
“Um, yoga wasn’t my full time job, I was…”
“Yeah, and you corrected the professor during the demo marketing class when he called you Mary! Didn’t you also say you’re going solo backpacking for the next five months?”
…Well, I guess that’s one way to make an impression.
After getting to know my classmates better and meeting more of the ~300 students there that weekend, I was blown away by how smart, driven, successful, and down to earth everyone was. I met my fair share of i-bankers and consultants, in addition to entrepreneurs, Marines, lawyers, and ex-professional football players from America, India, South Africa, and Brazil. We all come from different backgrounds with different stories to tell, but we all share a passion for learning, curiosity about the world, and a drive to further ourselves personally and professionally. Comments from Friday morning of “Yeah, I’m thinking Wharton but still weighing Harvard/Stanford/Kellogg/Booth”, slowly turned to “Yup, I’ve paid my deposit and committed!” by Saturday night. I was thrilled to be meeting the classmates who will influence, encourage, and support me throughout final exams, professional clubs, and summer internship interviews, and I couldn’t be more excited to come back in August to get to know them more. Not a bad introduction to the next two years of my life!