Monday, July 15, 2024
    HomeLifestyleDay in the Life of an Ivy Leaguer: Shelly Zhang | Lifestyle

    Day in the Life of an Ivy Leaguer: Shelly Zhang | Lifestyle

    Suits, blazers and ties. That’s what you might expect to see students wearing at a prestigious business program like The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. But that’s not true, as Shelly Zhang found out after her first year at the Ivy League school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    The 19-year-old economics major also realized how her previous high school experiences on island prepared her for the rigors of college.

    “I was very active in Close Up in high school. During the Youth Summit, my group took on the topic of Guam Budget and Economics to create more funding for public schools,” Zhang said, referring to the federal program that brings students from around the country for civic education programs.

    “I’m sure there were things lacking in our proposal, but the experience created a new interest for me in economics,” she said.

    Zhang did not only focus on business experiences while she was at John F. Kennedy High School. She helped plan school events such as a Zumba fundraiser for Guam Cancer Care and the Guardians of the Reef’s cleanup projects because she believes social responsibility is important in the corporate field.

    Driven to pursue a career in business after graduating from high school in 2021 as class valedictorian, the Tamuning resident knew that the business school in Pennsylvania was the perfect choice for her.

    Safe spaces

    During her first few weeks of college, Zhang had a hard time.

    “Guam is very warm and inviting,” Zhang said. “Everyone in Penn is friendly too, but there’s not too much interaction with each other because everything is fastpaced.”

    But that didn’t stop Zhang from breaking out of her comfort zone and reaching out to peers at her college.

    “I understood that because campus is so big, you don’t have the ability to know everyone,” Zhang said.

    She joined Wharton Asia Exchange and Wharton Women to find undergraduates who share the same interests as her.

    Both are pre-professional organizations that aim to prepare Wharton students by helping them develop professional skills. The former organization bridges the gap between Wharton and the Asian business community, while the latter focuses on helping women break into the financial industry.

    “I felt safe and comfortable joining these groups because they are my support system,” Zhang said. “In business, there are some things that we would normally be stigmatized to talk about. In these groups, I can speak up about those issues.”

    Speaking up isn’t always easy, especially since Wharton students appear to subscribe to the “work hard, play hard” philosophy.

    “When that happens, you tend to internalize that everyone is doing well in school and in their careers, and that makes it hard, especially if you feel like you’re the only one who seems to be struggling,” Zhang said.

    She found a solution in an app called Sidechat. The app provides students from across the University of Pennsylvania with a space where they can anonymously vent about their feelings and experiences.

    “The anonymous posts are very honest,” Zhang said. “Some content people would post include, ‘I’m struggling in this course,’ and others would respond with words of encouragement or advice.”

    The future

    Throughout her first year, Zhang observed from successful students that doing well in academics at Wharton can only get them so far in their careers.

    “Some of the upperclassmen that I’ve met really tried hard to network, aside from achieving high marks in their assessments,” Zhang said.

    So, she hopes to continue networking with other students and professionals at Wharton who inspire her in the field of economics, while also diversifying her activities during her sophomore year.

    In the future, she plans to intern at corporations like McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Goldman Sachs during her summers.

    But for now, Zhang will enjoy her last summer vacation on Guam, watching the gorgeous tropical sunsets and spending time with family and old friends.



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