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Ali Kokot & Hayley Brooks
Think Twice

Credit: Amanda Suarez , Ali Kokot & Hayley Brooks

Greetings all ye tan people, we’re back!

After New York summers spent at Nickelodeon and in the food business, we got a preview of how our two-brained efforts at Penn will soon translate into the professional world.

For Hayley, seeing how team members applied their respective talents to create a children’s television program — from script to storyboard — made group projects at Penn suddenly seem more valuable.

At Penn, we can be individually minded. Some of us push ahead solo, viewing others as competition rather than as potential resources. But maybe that’s not the move. After all, who gets the gazelle in the tall grass, the lone cheetah or the pack of hyenas?

We’ve always thought — yep, there are two of us — that having another brain in the house yields a stronger, sweeter product. Where would Ben be without Jerry? Not serving up Cherry Garcia. That’s where.

Looking back, we realized this lesson had been with us on campus since we arrived as doe-eyed freshmen. Penn’s most powerful attribute is its collaborative spirit — we are start-up central for a reason. Every popular performing arts group at Penn is supported by a behind the scenes business crew — which is why you’ve heard of them. Sharing our skill sets with others makes us collectively better.

In fact, our own creative process relies on a web of influences. Each week’s column is usually born from some scribbles on a dinner napkin — okay, okay on our iPhone notes — spurred by conversation with friends in between bites of spaghetti. Every week a number of brains contribute to the final print copy — from a friend’s incepting remark to our editor Steven trimming our excessive naughty puns. Oops!

We could never take full credit for what you see each week.

We love this model because it offers a network that will sufficiently challenge our ideas, weed out the fluff (we hope), fortify the good and create a community that supports us and who we, in turn, support. Even though our foundation is our joint collaboration, we wouldn’t be anywhere without our much larger network of friends, professors, parents of friends, friends of parents and others who help inform our column every week.

And that’s why this year we want to think bigger, push the boundaries of what’s possible with this little 700-or-so word ditty and be another example of that collaboration that courses through campus.

Take our response to Kate Taylor’s Penn sexpose this summer: 20 students contributed their personal, often intimate opinions and anecdotes to help create a holistic picture of sex on campus. Instead of commentating on our own, we gave the larger community a venue to do what we try to do every week. Kate Taylor’s piece could only warrant a collective response.

And what works for our column works day-to-day as well. So don’t be afraid to seek out people with diverse talents, whether you’re starting up the next SnapChat or just baking for some senior girls that live in the Radian (any takers?).

We would have given anything to have our quantitatively skilled friends help with our economics homework freshman year in exchange for a quick grammar check. Some spellin’ for some Excelin’?

And though a bit selfish of us, we’d like you to reach out to us too! The debates we’ve printed in the past deserve a voice, literally, and we’d like to hash them out in real time for you to see.

We would love to be included in the conversations you’re having, incorporate the existing fodder into our column, and have the column then in turn inform these same conversations. We hope to take these discussions to social media and we’re excited to experiment with video (keyword experiment, bear with us!).

Collaborating isn’t just for Management 100, it’s what makes the goals at Franklin Field, creates the harmonies we hear in Harrison Auditorium and will be integral to any track we choose post college. And it’s also more fun. As you seek shared opportunities, we’ll be doing the same with this soapbox.

Ali Kokot and Hayley Brooks are College seniors from New York and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. respectively. You can email them at or follow them at @haybethbrooks and @alikokot.

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