Students and Wharton staff worked together to organize a week of activities around PACT, the four foci of the Undergrad Program.

Before Prof. Diana Robertson became Vice Dean of the Wharton Undergraduate Division, she spent four years teaching business ethics to more than 100 undergrads each year. It was a highly interactive course, and through it, she got a first-hand look at student culture at Wharton.

“My course focused on individual and corporate values and purpose, responsibility and reputation, and on social impact,” she said. “I encouraged students to reflect on their own values and purpose and assigned readings encouraging students to formulate their own definitions of success.”

As Vice Dean, Robertson is taking what she mastered in the classroom to enrich the undergraduate student experience. Her vision is to encourage engagement with the four letters of PACT so students can further develop… 

  • Purpose in what they do and learn to give back
  • Agility and open-mindedness in and after university
  • Community among their peers at Wharton
  • Technology skills that will help benefit business and society.

The mission of PACT was brought to life from February 12–20 when PACT Week gave students a chance to build on those foundations through themed panels, counseling sessions, and social activities.

“The PACT Week events were designed and selected by a combination of student and staff input,” said Director of Student Life Lee Kramer. “It was a great collaboration among Student Life, Academic Advising, Career Services, Cohorts, Wharton Council, Wharton Dean’s Advisory Board (WAB), Wharton Council, and MBA and undergraduate students.”

Embracing a New Mindset

“The undergraduate years are formative. Students are discovering who they are, what makes them happy, and what makes them happy with who they are,” Robertson said. During PACT Week, students got to hear from their peers on finding Purpose and Agility, spend time with their Wharton Community, and brush up on Technology skills with Career Services.

Carisa Shah, W’22, a sophomore in the Jerome Fisher Management & Technology Program, helped plan the week as a co-chair of WAB. 

“We were really excited by the possibility of getting involved,” she said. “For this PACT Week, we worked closely with Student Life and Career Services to curate a panel of Wharton Peer Advising Fellows and MBA students who have exhibited Agility in their academic journeys and career paths.”

Carisa added, “PACT is more than a framework; it’s a mindset. The key is making the time to stop, even for a second, and fully appreciate and engage with everything that the school has to offer. Throughout PACT Week, I remembered a goal I had set for myself before coming to Penn: to use my time here to explore my interests, meet new people, and stretch my mind.”

Students are realizing more and more that while academics are important, it is also important to enjoy college and do things that make you happy,” said Lauren Kim, W’21, co-chair of Wharton Wellness.

Empowering Each Other

Students presented their experiences with finding Purpose during the Wharton Story Slam at United By Blue on Penn’s campus.

While the four tenets of PACT stand on their own, they also influence each other.

“Many students come to Wharton because they are interested in Finance and they do not explore other options,” Robertson said. “The emphasis on Agility is not meant to dissuade students from the Finance path, but instead to ensure that students are open to other possibilities. The other aspect of Agility is that our graduates will have multiple jobs over the course of their careers, perhaps in multiple industries, some of which may not exist today.”

Surayya Walters, W’22, is studying entrepreneurship but participated in PACT Week’s Wharton Story Slam to share how she found her Purpose through various aspirations.

“I plan to pursue multiple careers after Wharton in mental health, education, and entertainment,” she said. “I want other students to know that it is okay for your path to look different from someone else’s and encourage them to see their different interests or unique career passions as a source of strength.”

One takeaway for Surayya was recognizing the power in sharing her own vulnerability. “I left the story SLAM feeling especially invigorated because I learned that simply sharing your truth can be the catalyst in someone else’s personal growth.”

Gloria Yuen

Posted: May 19, 2020

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