Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Penn students have found joy in creating custom sneakers, releasing music on Spotify, launching podcasts, and skydiving.
An Instagram page called "Since the Penndemic" aims to spotlight student achievements and passion projects to emphasize the bright spots of students' experiences during COVID-19. Wharton senior Anna Jellinek, Wharton junior Louisa Cacchione, Wharton senior Maggy Grigg, and College junior Mateen Tabatabaei started the account, @sincethepandemic, on Feb. 7 for a project in MKTG227: Digital Marketing and Electronic Commerce. Although the page has grown far more than the founders anticipated, its mission to illuminate the positive aspects of the last year remains the same.
As of March 6, Since the Penndemic has highlighted 14 students, including some who improved their home-cooking skills, brewed their own kombucha, and shared recipes while encouraging honest dialogues about food. The team has also showcased student art ranging from photography to portraiture.
Another post highlighted how Magic Carpet, a popular vegetarian food truck, has adapted to the pandemic by offering new online ordering and delivery options.
“We’re trying to be as loose as possible with our definition of who is in the Penn community and what is an achievement that is worth sharing,” Tabatabaei said.
Jellinek added that achievements can be monumental or just bring a smile to someone's face.
Penn students can submit information about themselves to be featured on the account using a Google Form, which prompts users to respond to the statement "Since the Penndemic I've..." Jellinek said that when they first launched the account and did not have many followers, few people were willing to submit stories, requiring the founders to seek students out themselves. Now, more people from outside of the founders' circles are submitting their own stories.
The founders said that the idea for the project was inspired by their professor, Ron Berman, who suggested that social media pages that spread positivity and hope are especially empowering during a pandemic. The team decided that it would create a project that would uplift the Penn community, which led to the creation of Since the Penndemic.
If in-person activities resume next fall, Cacchione said the account will shift its coverage to illuminating how practices necessitated by the pandemic, such as online office hours, could improve in-person campus life.
While Penn students remain physically distanced from each other, the founders said the account has brought them closer to each other and helped them feel more connected to other Penn students. Jellinek said the project has helped her re-live the excitement of meeting interesting people on Locust Walk, and Grigg said she has enjoyed bonding with the other team members.
Cacchione said that running the account has also allowed her to gain a more positive perspective on the pandemic.
“It’s been a year of growth and some really cool opportunities,” she said.
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