I’m a math-and-science girl: I’ve always gravitated towards classes that teach formulas and encourage individual, analytical problem solving. I never liked “touchy-feely” classes and as far as classes that consist of group work—forget it. So when I was required to take Management 100 first semester freshman year, I was nervous. The idea of randomly being placed in a group of nine students to work on a semester-long project made me anxious. So it shocks me that when someone asks me about my favorite class last term, my answer is “Management 100.” But, actually, looking back at my experience, it’s not really surprising how much I ended up loving the class. I’d chalk up how much I enjoyed it to the incredible members of my group; the idea that our project “really” made a difference; and the unexpected opportunity I had to learn about myself both as an individual and a member of the team.
I was part of a team of nine: one other girl and myself, and seven boys. Within our group, six were Wharton students, one was a fellow M&T student, and one was in Huntsman. We were a microcosm of the diversity here at Penn: We hailed from as close as New York to as far as Kazakhstan. We were Christians, Muslims and Jews—and all shared stories about our lives growing up in different places with different cultures. Some of us were introverted, others were outspoken and jokesters. But the tie that brought us together was that we were all dedicated to making our final project as successful as it could be. Dubbing ourselves “Team ImpActive,” we put on a Resource Fair for Impact Services, an organization that aims to make members of the community self-sufficient. We exceeded our goals and assembled over 20 agencies to help underserved individuals and families. We provided information about child-rearing, housing, and mental health. It was incredibly rewarding—so much so, that some of the members of the agencies that attended kept in touch with us after the Resource Fair and invited us to spend time at their own facilities. The class evolved into more than just lecture and recitation—it became hours of time devoted to making a difference in the Philadelphia community—with the added bonus of being surrounded by eight incredibly inspiring peers.
Most surprisingly, on a personal level, I began to “know” myself and understand how others perceived me. I learned to work on my weaknesses and push myself to speak in large groups. The class taught me how to evaluate myself as a team player, “force” myself to become more outspoken, and serve as a source of support for members of my group. By the end of the class (and spending hours and hours together late into many nights), I had formed a bond with every one of my teammates. Management 100 was the single class that inspired me to think about my relationships with other students and focus on how I can make myself not only an effective team player, but also a better individual.