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Credit: Chase Sutton

Penn broke another record this year with its lowest-ever overall acceptance rate of 7.44 percent. 

Fourteen percent of the admitted class are international students based on their citizenship, and the students hail from 100 different countries. Fifteen percent of admitted students to the Class of 2023 are the first in their families to attend college. 

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke to some students who were admitted to the Class of 2023 on March 28. Here are their stories. 

Ryan Afreen matched with Penn through Questbridge but did not think she would be accepted. Born and raised in Bangladesh, Afreen came to the United States three years ago and now lives in Queens, New York. Afreen opened her decision at school with her best friend and her guidance counselor standing next to her recording her reaction. It took Afreen a while to realize she had gotten in, but then screamed so loudly that she startled her counselor. Afreen and her friend both started crying, and she called her parents right after.

She said that she was nervous when applying to colleges because she is new to the country and did not know if her speaking and academic skills are qualified enough for higher education or that her parents will be able to pay for her education. 

"My self confidence deteriorated every time I got a lower test score or didn’t prepare well for my internships," she said. 

Afreen found the acceptance surreal after her struggles as a first-generation immigrant. Coming to the United States was a "cultural shock" for Afreen, and her parents had to work around the clock. 

“It was big news actually, because I go to a local school, and going to such an elite school — an Ivy League — was almost impossible according to all my friends and my teachers," Afreen said. "But I think nothing is impossible if you’re really perseverant and really want something."

Before opening her admissions decision, Rebecca Wirtschafter, constantly refreshed her portal for 50 minutes. The website was not working, and when she asked her guidance counselor to check for her, her guidance counselor could not log in either.

“I’m sitting there for so long and finally it says ‘view status update.’ I click it, and I just don’t believe it,” Wirtschafter, who is from Boca Raton, Florida, said. “My mom is there with me and my dad had just left because we thought we weren’t going to see it for a little while, I’m screaming and I’m so happy I started crying.”

Wirtschafter immediately called her sister, who is a junior at Penn, and she was so happy that she started crying too. Afterwards, Wirtschafter went out to frozen yogurt with her family — their tradition for celebrating everything. 

Wirtschafter applied to Penn Early Decision and was deferred, so she said that it was a "painful week" for her waiting for the decision to be released. 

"I submitted my deposit right away, and I’ve already joined the Facebook group," she said.  

Lauren Davidson, who hails from Atlanta, said Penn became her first choice after attending the three-day Penn Early Exploration Program in October, which focuses on serving low-income students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. When Davidson opened her acceptance letter, she was at a dinner banquet for another college's admitted students visiting day, so she could not express her excitement out loud. 

“I was internally screaming and crying, but I couldn’t actually,” Davidson said.

Davidson said she looks forward to interacting with and being part of Penn’s diverse community, and is waiting to see if Penn offers her enough financial aid for her to attend.

“I’ve been going to the same school for seven years, so going to a college campus where I can see people from all walks of life and meet new faces is definitely something I am really excited for,” Davidson said.

Kathy Wang was on the plane to visit her brother in San Francisco when the Ivy League decisions were released. She opened her Penn portal in the car on the way to the hotel. After a few waitlists and rejections from other schools, Wang was not expecting to be accepted into Penn. 

“When I opened up Penn’s result, I was really surprised that I got accepted into UPenn," she said. "I was really happy, I was screaming ‘Oh my gosh, I got into UPenn!’”

Wang, who is from Cleveland, plans to attend Quaker Days and make a final decision afterwards. Wang applied to Penn as a cognitive science major and plans to attend medical school to become a doctor. 

Michael Chen, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia, said he was emotionless when he first opened his acceptance letter, because he initially did not see the word, “Congratulations!” After reading past the formalities of the “on behalf of" that started the letter, Chen said he realized he was accepted and could not believe the decision. 

“Penn has always been my dream school and the fact that I was able to get in, not only to get into Penn but also LSM, I was just really happy,” Chen said. Chen was accepted into the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Science and Management, a dual degree program between the College and Wharton. 

Chen said he felt compatible with Penn's work-hard vibe when he visited campus last summer, solidifying Penn as his number one school. 

“One thing that distinguishes Penn from any other school is how busy the people are, how they always have something to do, like a target, and I think that really fits with who I am as a person," Chen said. "I want to have that kind of active mindset."

At approximately 1:20 a.m., Layla Murphy opened her acceptance letter with her mom and friend beside her in Cairo, Egypt. Murphy said she was opening eight admission decisions at that time and initially skipped over Penn because she was too nervous. 

When she finally opened the letter, Murphy, her friend, and her mom "collectively screamed for like a solid 10 seconds, laugh-crying."

"It was all really emotional and loud," she said. "It was late here so I kept thinking oh my god am I waking my entire building up."

Murphy said with a generous financial aid package and her brother currently attending Penn, the University is a strong contender among the other acceptances she received. A prospective History major, Murphy said some extracurriculars she would like to participate in if she were to come to Penn are the Bloomers, Kelly Writers House, and The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

“I’ve been to campus a lot of times and I know I love the feeling of it and the vibe of it and I love Philly," she said. 

Christopher Maximos, who is from Netcong, New Jersey, got home just before the Ivy League decision time at 7 p.m. While waiting for the decisions to load, he sat staring at the wall, imagining in his head what it would be like to attend each school. When Maximos saw that he was accepted, he screamed for "a solid five minutes" and then cried with his parents. 

“My hand was shaking so badly that I couldn’t even read the words," Maximos said. "Then I saw a piece of confetti, and I was like ‘this is it.’” 

“It was just a wonderful moment; it felt like the culmination of four years of work and just excitement about what’s left to come,” Maximos added. 

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