With dozens of emails about logistics and scheduling, the inboxes of incoming Wharton First Years fill up fast in the weeks leading up to the start of their MBA career.
But the one they receive from Student Life a couple weeks before Pre-Term is a bit more colorful than the rest — welcoming them to a Cluster of Lions, Dragons, Bees, or Tigers.
That email is also the start of a community-building process in which they’ll cultivate a special sense of camaraderie, loyalty, and pride with about 210 of their classmates.
“Our Cluster is our Wharton family,” said Student Life Associate Director Larry Rappoport, who’s proud to lead the Cluster 3 Bees. “With each class, I look forward to seeing the new touches they will add to our Cluster community and culture in their two years here.”
Building the Cluster Identities
Building the Cluster identities has been student-driven from the start. After the Cluster system launched as part of the MBA curriculum redesign in 2012, students voted on the mascots, the colors, and the logos to make each Cluster their own.
“Any time you can create artifacts and shared experiences between classes it helps to drive school spirit and gives them common ground on which to build connections and friendships,” said Student Life Associate Director Eric Morin, who heads up the Cluster 4 Tigers.
Aside from a few tweaks to the flags and logos and a couple mascot changes (the Honey Badgers became the Dragons and the Lions replaced the Roosters), each Cluster has built a lasting legacy in five short years — complete with mottos, cheers, costumes, and signature events they’ve passed on from class to class.
“We wanted to establish long-standing traditions for people to connect with even years after they graduate,” Larry explained.
Thanks to robust Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and catchy hashtags for each Cluster, new MBAs quickly get connected and alums can keep their Cluster memories alive long after they’ve retired their wings, tails, and striped socks.
What Makes Each Cluster Unique
Check out these Cluster cards for a snapshot of what makes each one unique:
— Colleen Mullarkey
Posted: August 25, 2016