Wharton is giving students hundreds of dollars to pursue their passions.
Wharton Passion Projects is a new pilot program created by the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board. The program provides students with up to $300 to pursue projects they are passionate about. Out of the 44 applicants this semester, seven fellows were chosen, working on a total of six different passion projects.
WAB member and Wharton senior Moses Soh said the fellows are all pursuing a variety of different interests. The purpose of the program is to choose projects that would not already receive funding from the University. “No startups, no research, just passions,” Soh said.
College and Wharton junior Julie Adam is a Passion Projects fellow who is taking online cooking classes through this program. Adams has always loved cooking, but she has always cooked mostly vegetarian foods. “I’m kind of intimidated by meat,” Adams said. “I just don’t know how to cook it.”
Adams started a food blog called Stovetop Story, but she did not want all her recipes to be vegetarian. “There’s so much more to my passion that I could explore.”
She applied for the Wharton Passion Projects to finally pursue her dream of becoming a global cook. “It gives me that global cooking knowledge that I’ve been lacking,” Adams added. “Through this passion project, I’m going to get this global understanding.”
The fellows are able to discuss their unique projects every other week at roundtable meetings. Although they are pursuing such different interests, they are inspired by each others’ projects.
Wharton junior Majid Mubeen is a participant who said he enjoys learning from his respective fellows. “They’re all doing cool stuff that I couldn’t even fathom,” Mubeen said. “I’m hoping to learn from them.”
Mubeen’s personal project is writing and performing a 30 minute one-man show. Mubeen has been performing small shows like this since he was 13 years old, but he was inspired to take it further. “I thought this was really cool because it can provide me a framework and motivate me and put me around people that are doing sort of off the walls sort of stuff as well,” Mubeen said.
The program gives students a forum to learn from each other. “It provides a platform and community for all the people doing different stuff,” Mubeen added. “It’s a community that influences you to be more of yourself.”
Although the WAB usually focuses on academic initiatives, they discovered the benefit of these projects. ”We found that side projects give you a great release point, especially when things are a little bit hectic in the semester,” Soh said.
The program gives students a way to apply what they learn to things that really matter to them. “We want to grow and support the culture of intellectual curiosity on campus,” Soh added. “I think it’s amazing how many diverse interests we have coming in, but, especially when you get really busy, it’s easy to lose sight of all of it.”
He said that the program is not about the money — it’s about the people. “We can do all this to support a culture of curiosity and talking about what everybody else is doing,” Soh said. “I think we would be doing some good to the world.”
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