On Sunday, April 22, 2018 Passion Project Fellows will gather in the Baker Forum in Huntsman Hall to present a semester’s worth of work at the Wharton Passion Projects Showcase. An organization of Wharton undergraduates, the showcase celebrates these Fellows’ many passions, from developing homemade ice cream to printing 3D structures. The showcase is free and open to the public.
Passion Project Board Members provide a teaser of what is to come. There are several foodie Fellows this year providing samples of homemade ice cream, cake, and healthy Halal food. Other passion projects include problem-solving podcasts, photography, and learning how to play the electric violin.
As Passion Project Board Member Carolina Zuluaga, W’19, describes, “These are students that you see every day, but they come in with such different experiences. You really see that through these projects. They’re creative, they’re outside-the-box, and they will really blow you away.”
The Passion Projects Program
The premise of the Passion Projects Program is to encourage students to pursue non-academic interests. Passion Projects was started in the fall of 2015 by students on the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board (WAB). Last year WAB decided to partner with Wharton Wellness to put on Wharton Passion Projects with the goal to improve the academic life at Wharton by improving students’ mental health.
“College can be really stressful sometimes,” said Passion Projects Board Member Nick Amore, W’20. “It’s important to step back and immerse yourself in what you really want to do.”
The Passion Projects Program provides funding to curious and venturesome Wharton students, supporting and encouraging them to take time for themselves outside of classes and professional pursuits. While college students may feel that need to focus 100% of energy on academics and careers, the program affirms the value of pursuing passions outside of the classroom.
“You should have the opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about even if it’s totally random,” said Passion Projects Board Member Lea Chen, W’19.
Lea was a Passion Projects Fellow last year. Her project blended her love of fashion and helping others. She worked with fourth-grade girls at a low-income elementary school in Philadelphia. She asked each girl to draw her hopes and dreams, then turned the drawings into t-shirts they could wear.
“I wanted them to always be reminded of what they’re aiming for,” she said. “My Passion Project was one of my favorite things I’ve done at Penn.”
The Passion Projects Showcase
The Passion Projects Showcase is science-fair-style: rows of tables contain posters displaying each passion. The Fellows describe the intricacies of their Passion Projects, provide samples of what they have been working on, and tell the stories of how their passions were born. Their aim is to educate others about their passion, as well as to inspire others to pursue what they love. The hope is that people will come away from the showcase feeling inspired, refreshed, and motivated to work on their own personal projects.
“If you go to the showcase and see what people are working on, I promise you’ll be much more likely to pursue what you want to pursue and pursue interests you may have forgotten about,” said Passion Projects Board Member Dipak Kumar, W’19.
“There’s such a diverse group of passions that people have and it’s awesome to see,” said Passion Projects Board Member Gabriel Sokoloff, W’21.
— Caroline Harris
Posted: April 18, 2018