How a summer program made me fall in love with a university

31 Aug

I must admit, when I first signed up for the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy (GYLA) at the University of Pennsylvania, I wasn’t expecting to make any serious, long-term connections with anybody there. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from the program. Given that GYLA is an international program, I knew there would be great diversity within the group. With everybody being from such different cultures, I was nervous that I would not be able to connect with others. Yet, by the end of the program, I found myself having trouble fighting back the emotions as I hugged my friends goodbye. That was when I stood there and took a moment to reflect upon what had happened in the past two weeks.

It is amazing how people can make such an impression on you without you even realizing it. To my great surprise, I was able to connect exceptionally well with the other students. This program gathered some of the best and brightest young minds from around the world, and it turned out to be a pleasure to network with them. Everybody had a story behind them. These stories showed me what youth nowadays are capable of. Being able to bounce ideas off of such inspiring individuals, and to build relationships with them, was just a wonderful experience. Even now, much after the program, I am still in touch with many of them.

As the program is led and run by Knowledge@Wharton High School, four UPenn students stayed with our group for the whole time, as our advisors. Over the two weeks, I was able to build relationships with not only my fellow students but also these advisors. Thanks to them, I learned about student life at UPenn – one of my dream schools – and saw it through a new lens. I learned about the values of the school, and about some long-standing traditions like throwing toast at its sports matches. Those quirky details only made me fall in love with the school even more.

Of course, I also gained first-hand experience of what being a student at Penn is like. The opportunity to be immersed in The Wharton School’s environment and culture is perhaps the most valuable part of this experience.

The part of this program that I appreciated the most was the lectures by teachers in or around UPenn. In those two weeks, we learned a massive amount about innovation, international business, and entrepreneurship, just to name a few things. As a student who goes to a school that doesn’t offer a lot of business courses, I found these lectures extremely beneficial.

Apart from the lectures, GYLA gave me the opportunity to connect and communicate with the professors after class, many of whom have truly inspiring stories behind them. Talking to them really made me re-evaluate my life as well as my future.

I just want to say a huge thank you to all the teachers who took time out of their summer to come in and speak to us. You made a deep impact on me and many others, and I deeply appreciate it.

In the background of all this, we were continuously working on a project. At the beginning of the program, we were challenged to create a business plan for a company that will solve a problem in the world. I’m not going to lie, because we were all strong leaders, there were conflicts within the group. Yet, I for one am a strong believer in beneficial conflict. Although we had our ups and downs along the way, in the end, with compromise and a lot of hard work, we really came together as a team and pulled off a presentation that I was proud to take part in.


Posted by KWHS Wharton Summer School on Friday, August 4, 2017

Session D: Final Business Plan Presentation Winners

This may sound cliché, but in the end, when they announced us the winner in the business plan competition, I felt like all the work was worth it.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to BrainGain Magazine and Knowledge@Wharton High School for working tirelessly to make the program happen. It was a truly inspiring experience that made a lasting imprint on me. It opened my eyes, gave me a first-hand experience of the Penn culture, and made me fall in love with the school.


By Megan Zhu

Megan is 16 years old, and studies at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Canada. She participated in the Knowledge@Wharton High School Global Young Leaders Academy at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2017.

2 Responses to “How a summer program made me fall in love with a university”

  1. Alice August 31, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

    Great article! I hope others can get a chance to experience what you did as well.

  2. Shreya November 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

    Amazing job Megan!! I’m extremely proud of you.

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