Designing A Life You Love

For someone who has always been a chronic over-planner, I took a rather relaxed approach to choosing a college (perhaps one of the few times I would highly discourage spontaneity). I distinctly remember sitting in my room a few hours before the decision deadline, creating my tenth pro-con list of the night. Interestingly enough, my choice came down to two schools that couldn’t possibly be more different: NYU Stern School of Business and Swarthmore College.

Swarthmore was the obvious winner, but a comment I overheard at SwatStruck, which I thought I had dutifully repressed, continued to nudge at my heart.

Wanting to learn more about off-campus opportunities for Swatties, I reached out to an upperclassman who had just gotten back from a conference in New York City for women interested in finance. After hearing about all that she had learned, and that Swarthmore helped secure funding for her to attend, I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to take advantage of the opportunities at Swarthmore.

My brief moment of enchantment was disrupted as I heard the words, “There’s a caveat.” She explained that while she was able to attend the conference, she felt inferior to the students coming from highly specialized schools, like Stern and Wharton, who seemed to have the extensive hands-on experience that she lacked.

I chose Swarthmore, because ultimately, I couldn’t forgo the distinctively collaborative and socially conscious community. I thought there would be fewer extracurricular activities, which was a cause for concern, but I promised myself that I would make the best of it.

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The smile on my face pretty much says it all – no regrets here!

After a successful first semester, I learned:

1. Swarthmore actually provides an endless number of opportunities for students to pursue their interests.

2. Swarthmore gives students have a lot of room to create and implement their own projects. If there is anything you hoped would be at the school that doesn’t currently exist, Swat helps you make it a reality.

As a student who hopes to further explore the world of social entrepreneurship, I have been able to use Swarthmore’s resources to achieve this goal.

I participated in a workshop series focused on utilizing the Design Thinking method to craft innovative solutions to real world problems; Haverford College, one of the schools in the Tri-College Consortium, hosted this series. Two friends and I, hoping to tackle the issue of gender equity in the workforce, created Collab – a social impact advisory firm that works to integrate onsite childcare into office and co-working spaces.

With the help of Career Services and the Center for Innovation and Leadership, we were able to continue developing our business model through our externship with WeWork, a high-growth real estate development company, and by presenting at the US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s college pitch competition in Philadelphia.

After recognizing the potential in our idea, we decided to make a rather big jump and participate in Swarthmore’s annual ideation competition: SwatTank.

I came to Swarthmore with an impression that opportunities would be lacking, and found that the complete opposite is true. From enrolling in a social entrepreneurship course with Professor Crossan in the Peace & Conflict Studies department to receiving Dean’s funding to attend a conference at Harvard University, I have been able to do so much. Round one judging for SwatTank begins in a few days and as my partners and I rush to finalize our product design and pitch, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful.

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A typical day in social entrepreneurship class: working at the Lang Center‘s social innovation lab on developing another sustainable enterprise.

As Professor Atshan always says, Swarthmore is a truly magical place. You have unlimited freedom to create the college experience you have always hoped for, so get designing.

Creativity encouraged.

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