“I met a lot of wonderful people, and the exercises in which we’ve engaged really broadened my perspective, even within my own Asian community. We share experiences…and recognize each other on our respective journeys.” – Winni Zhang, W’23

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Wharton Stories is showcasing three undergraduate students who found their footing in community here at the School and at Penn; while also sharing some of the resources that Wharton students can utilize in order to help them create, connect, and build on the robust community which currently exists at Wharton and at the University. 

Meet Winni Zhang, W’23

Hometown: Deltona, Florida
Activities: Co-Vice President, Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club; Marketing Committee member and Vice President of the Design Committee, Penn Common Cents; Facilitator, Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative (APALI); co-President, Oracle Senior Honor Society
Post-Wharton plans: first, to travel through Asia with friends; after she returns, Winni is joining Bain Capital as an Analyst.

Like Sahiba and Thomas, Winni is an accomplished Wharton senior who is preparing for that iconic stride down Penn’s Locust Walk in May, when she graduates from Wharton in a few short weeks. And, like Sahiba and Thomas, Winni found ways to build both community and an impressive Wharton resume during her four years at the School. Winni is a PhelpsForward Scholar, spent time as a Teaching Assistant for Business Communication for Impact (WH201), is a leader in both the Oracle Senior Honor Society and the Wharton Undergraduate Finance Club, and also interned for Penn Common Cents. 

Winni is also a proud member of the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH) at Penn; and, within PAACH, serves on the Asian Pacific American Leadership Initiative (APALI), which is comprised of a smaller subset of leaders who develop tangible leadership skills and build further cultural enrichment amongst themselves through retreats, workshops, and other opportunities for fellowship. 

“I met a lot of wonderful people, and the exercises in which we’ve engaged really broadened my perspective, even within my own Asian community,” Winni said. “We share experiences, see each other’s accomplishments and hardships, and recognize each other on our respective journeys.”

Through Oracle, APALI, and PAACH, Winni developed a comfortability in reaching out to people who share similar backgrounds to her own, and who she found were happy to share tips and tricks for jump-starting her career in the finance industry.

“I was able to reach out to people who had similar experiences to my own, who were able to mentor me throughout the recruitment process and help me prepare for interviews,” Winni said. “This was all done by people in their free time, who happened to relate to me and I to them.” 

Winni stands at the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is just ten minutes from campus and the annual site of the Oracle Senior Honor Society’s gala.

Meet Thomas Kyong, W’23

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Activities: Chief, Sphinx Senior Honor Society; Coordinator, PENNacle’s Pre-Orientation Program; Vice Chair, the Student Activities Council; co-Founder, Queer Climbing
Post-Wharton plans: Product Analysis & Strategy Analyst, American Express

Thomas Kyong pursued an abundance of leadership roles and opportunities over the course of his four years at the University of Pennsylvania. A Wharton Research Scholar, Thomas is also a member of Penn’s Oracle Senior Honor Society and Carriage Senior Honor Society, in addition to his status as the SNF Paideia Inaugural Fellow and Scholar. 

Thomas identifies the support he received from both his peers and from Wharton faculty as one of the key factors in the successful exploration of his identity, both as an Asian American and as a gay man. In addition to his other accomplishments, Thomas acted as a Teaching Assistant for both Analytics in the Digital Economy with Professor Sonny Tambe, and People Analytics with Professor Tiantian Yang.

In addition to his other advisors through the Wharton Research Scholars and the Paideia program, the support of both Professors Tambe and Yang enabled Thomas to travel to Japan and South Korea, where he embarked in groundbreaking research that explored the origins of homophobia in East Asia. 

“To do something that not only leverages my data science skills, but incorporates both of my identities in being both queer and Asian means so much to me,” said Thomas. “My project, and the honor that comes with being a Wharton Research Scholar, has made my time here at the School such a meaningful and fulfilling experience.”

Front and center, Thomas stands with his fellow officers of Penn’s Student Activities Council.

Meet Sahiba Baveja, W’23

Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL
Activities: President, South Asia Society; member, Kite & Key Society; Advisor, Wharton Peer Advisor; member, the Wharton Undergrad Finance Club; Research Assistant, Penn Healthcare Review
Post-Wharton plans: Investment Banking Analyst, Morgan Stanley

As she prepares to graduate from Wharton, Sahiba is reflecting upon her four years at the School – she kept herself busy. Among other activities, Sahiba pursued involvement in the Kite & Key Society, the Wharton Undergrad Finance Club, and the Penn Healthcare Review; but some of her greatest impact came from the time she served as the President of Penn’s South Asia Society (SAS). 

Sahiba joined the South Asia Society as a freshman, where the beginning of her experience within the club quickly became impacted by the encroachment of COVID-19 on their activities. And yet, despite the Zoom meetings and flurrying of group chats, Sahiba still found that the organization strove to build social connection. As an underclassman, Sahiba quickly identified mentorship opportunities in her older peers and fellow members of the South Asia Society, and when she stepped into her presidency, found new value in the leadership opportunity that she now had in her hands.

“When it came time to make decisions on behalf of the club, I made strong enough connections with those who came before that I knew I could reach out to them for help, but they still empowered me to make the choices that ultimately benefited the community here at Penn,” said Sahiba. 

This large and yet tight-knit community continued to support Sahiba as graduation approached in her final spring semester as a Wharton undergraduate student: when the time came to job-hunt and make moves in preparation for her plans post-Wharton, many of those same students offered Sahiba professional advice that helped guide her to her current opportunity, which will see Sahiba head west to San Francisco. She is joining Morgan Stanley as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Bay Area. 

Billed with a dress code of South Asian attire, held at the historical Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park, the South Asia Society’s 2023 sold-out formal featured unbridled good times.

– Grace Meredith

Posted: May 8, 2023

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