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Credit: Biruk Tibebe

Many gathered at Baker Forum in Huntsman Hall for the annual Wharton Passion Projects showcase, where students presented their projects that focused on a range of topics, from Halal food recipes to teaching students about the responsibilities of working on a farm. 

Every year, the Passion Projects Program selects 10 to 15 students who are interested in pursuing a passion outside of the classroom that is not a startup or club project. The Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board began the program in 2015 and has since partnered with Wharton Wellness, which contributed funding for the first time this year, enabling up to $300 to be allocated per project for students to explore their interests throughout the course of the semester. This initiative seeks to inspire creativity and innovation among Wharton students along with general wellness. 

Wharton freshman Griffen Croft, one of the selected applicants, traveled to Henry C. Lea Elementary School to teach second grade students about the responsibilities of working on a farm and cultivating crops for his project. He had helped raise sheep, chickens, and pigs on his family’s farmland, and felt that younger students in the city had most likely never been exposed to such a rural environment and lifestyle. 

Credit: Biruk Tibebe

Once a week for three weeks, Croft gave interactive demonstrations at the school, teaching the elementary students about poultry and horticulture and even showing them how to milk a cow using doctor’s gloves. “It was really fun for me to bring some of my background into Philly, and share my experiences with other people that they probably wouldn’t normally get exposed to,” he said.

Another student, Wharton and Engineering sophomore Abhi Motgi, decided to convert his love of local Halal food trucks into a Passion Project, exploring healthier — but still tasty — recipes. As he explained, “I thought, what if I tried making these dishes? But then I felt like just remaking the dishes wasn’t enough, so I wanted to add my own healthy touch to it.”

While Motgi estimated a meal from a Halal cart could be around 1400 calories, his own chicken over rice was only just over 600 calories. He concluded that he hopes to further explore Middle Eastern cuisine and added, “I have a good go-to dish now that I feel comfortable preparing in bulk, so I look forward to making it for my friends.”

Wharton senior Allyson Choi chose rock climbing as the topic of her Passion Project, taking trips to Nevada and across Pennsylvania to various mountain sites. After being introduced to the sport by friends in her sophomore year, she became almost immediately passionate about climbing, saying, “I really feel in the zone and in the moment when I am climbing.”

Credit: Biruk Tibebe

Choi added that the varying degrees of difficulty involved in rock climbing is strenuous on the mind as well as the body. “For me, each climb is like solving a puzzle, and it takes a lot of thinking to accomplish,” she said.

Other projects involved playing the electric violin, creating podcasts, and DJing. 

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