2011 Wharton graduate and aspiring Olympian Sunny Choi will judge an annual break-dancing jam hosted by Freaks of the Beat.
The break-dancing jam — Rhythmic Damage XVI — will take place on Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. in Houston Hall. Choi, who will compete for Team USA in the breakdancing event during the Paris 2024 Olympic games, was president of Freaks of the Beat during her undergraduate years.
After leaving her position as a creative project manager, Choi shifted her focus to break dancing full-time, a change that occurred after the announcement of break dancing as an official Olympic sport.
Choi, reflecting on her career switch, said, "I absolutely did not think I would be doing this. I also went to Wharton and assumed I would just be working a corporate job for the rest of my life.”
The transition away from her full-time job was challenging, especially from a financial perspective.
"Financially, I was completely scared to give up my full-time job because of the perceived stability that a corporate job gives you," she said.
Despite the stability offered by her corporate position, Choi found greater personal fulfillment in dance, which had been a part of her life since her first year at Penn. She continued to dance while working, investing a significant part of her earnings into her passion.
"Being part of Freaks of the Beat during college is probably what kept me going. I did everything I was supposed to do, so I think doing something that was a little bit against the grain, like breaking dancing, helped me to stay grounded," Choi said.
Having competed in the World Championships for the last three years, Choi won a silver medal in 2019. Other accomplishments include winning silver in the 2022 World Games and the 2019 World Urban Games, and 7th place in the 2022 World DanceSport Federation World Championships.
Choi said that her perspective on breakdancing goes hand in hand with her personal journey at Penn. From a campus culture where elements such as Penn Face dominate student life, Choi said the highlight of her career has been performing in a manner authentic to her without feeling the need to put up a front.
Though many Penn students seem to have detailed future plans already, Choi encouraged them to take a minute to consider what truly brings them happiness, even if it diverges from the well-trodden path of conventional “success” that many Penn students find themselves boxed into.
“Have fun, enjoy it, do what you want, figure out what it is that you love to do, and just pursue it,” Choi said.
Tickets for the Rhythmic Damage XVI event will be available for purchase at the door or online, priced at $10 for general admission and $5 for members of the Penn community with a valid PennCard.