Before Reggie Love could go to class in Huntsman Hall, he had to say goodbye to his boss — who just happened to be the President of the United States.
Love, who for the last five years has served as a special assistant and personal aide to President Barack Obama, is currently a first-year Wharton MBA candidate.
Love began taking courses in May 2011 and has already completed two-thirds of his first year as an MBA. He will become a full-time student in the spring semester after he officially leaves the White House.
For Love, coming to Wharton is a way to explore his interest in business. It was while working for the president that he heard from colleagues in the White House about the various business opportunities available at Penn.
After speaking with students and faculty in Wharton, Love felt at home, explaining that they “did such a great job welcoming me.”
“It was a great situation for me because Philadelphia is just a short train ride,” he added. “[I could] still serve the country [and] work on my personal development.”
While Love’s tenure in the White House is soon coming to a close, he looks back on his time working with Obama as a learning experience.
“It’s been fun and interesting for me to be able to get a sense of the pulse of what everyone else feels or sees,” Love said. “The main challenge of the job is that it’s an all-encompassing job.”
While he was following President Obama, writing presidential logs and preparing briefings, Love was at the center of the action.
“The responsibilities … give you a sense of purpose,” he said, adding that it was amazing “knowing that you have a chance to make a difference.”
“It was a privilege and an honor … to see history develop and history happen,” he said.
When Love graduated from Duke University in 2005, he knew he could either go to New York and get a job at a bank like many of his classmates or take a risk and do something nontraditional.
He said becoming the president’s aide was a question of “being in the right place at the right time.”
Love started working with Obama when he was still in the U.S. Senate, and for five years has served as the president’s “body man.”
Aside from his official responsibilities, Love once received a special assignment.
When Love one day described Paul Newman as “the salad dressing guy,” Obama sent him to do some research.
“[I had to] educate myself on the history of things that I had not spent a lot of time taking an interest in,” Love said, adding that “I’ve learned a lot about the history of culture … from a different generation.”
Sometimes Love’s responsibilities would also include playing basketball with the president, a tradition that the Duke graduate and former basketball player enjoyed.
While Love worked to make sure Obama’s day ran smoothly, he also took courses at Wharton on subjects such as microfinance, statistics and operations and information management.
“I didn’t do great, and it was tough” to balance responsibilities, Love said. “With more available time, I think I’ll be able to take advantage of [what] Penn has to offer.”
While Love is uncertain about what his future holds, he’s sure his experience working for Obama and studying at Wharton has prepared him well.
“Wharton and working with the president [taught me] a whole range of professional and life skills … [that] will all give me a great opportunity to just figure out what other opportunities are out there,” he said.