What I've Learned from the College Dean's Advisory Board

Over 50 academic departments lined up on Locust Walk. Several food trucks parked around the Button. Dance and acapella groups performed in front of the Ben Franklin statue.

As prospective freshmen descended on campus for Quaker Days and sophomores were preparing to declare their majors, all the College departments convened in an event known as College Palooza. I helped direct department representatives to their assigned tables and run a Jeopardy game for prospective students. My involvement in this annual event stems from my position on the College Dean's Advisory Board (DAB).

Comprised of 25 College students, DAB advises the Dean of the College on issues affecting College students and enacts initiatives to strengthen the College's academic offerings, community, and student life. I joined the board as a first-semester freshman, unsure about what I wanted to do at Penn but sure I wanted to help enhance the Penn community. These past couple years, DAB has allowed me to collaborate with mental health groups on fostering mental wellness, promote student-faculty interaction through outreach events, and take part in wide-ranging discussions with the Dean on different ideas.

Through my involvement in DAB, I've realized just how diverse College students are in their academic interests and backgrounds. Beyond the over 50 majors the College offers, students exhibit such a wide array of passions — from music to politics, from fine arts to scientific research.

Granted, the sheer diversity of the College means it's more challenging to create a sense of unity; in particular, College students aren't all taking the same courses or striving for the same kinds of careers. However, I've come to view our diversity as a strength, not as a drawback.

The opportunity to plan College Palooza made me realize how College students are doing such different things at any given time — while one student is analyzing the cadence of pop music, another is amplifying DNA fragments in the lab. Still, others are debating classmates on a recently introduced bill or perusing historical texts in one of the many languages offered in the College. The broad range of interests everyone brings to the College has made my Penn experience much more interesting and multifaceted.

As a DAB member, I’ve discussed ideas to enhance the College and planned events that supported mental wellness. But through DAB, I’ve experienced how diverse the College is — and how that’s one of the College’s strengths.

-Brian Z, C’20