Wharton Dolphin Tank winners create opportunities for impact

The Wharton Undergraduate Division worked with Wharton Wellness, the Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, and the Wharton Undergraduate Executive Board to host the first-of-its-kind Wharton Dolphin Tank, a virtual pitch contest in March that centered on ways to improve student wellness at the business school.

Thirty-three undergraduate students submitted ideas, and eight finalists were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges comprised of Wharton Undergraduate Executive Board members Diana Robertson, vice dean and director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division, and Lee Kramer, director of Wharton Student Life.

The winning ideas were Penn-Wharton Recovery and Gratitude @ Wharton; each took home the Dolphin Tank. The two student winners will receive one-on-one meetings with Adam Grant, the Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management, and Angela Duckworth, the Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor in the Department of Psychology in the School of Arts & Sciences. The initiatives will be implemented by Wharton Wellness and the Undergraduate Division this fall.

The goal of Penn-Wharton Recovery is to fill in the gaps in recovery support at Penn. The initiative will include anonymous, one-hour weekly meetings, hosted on Zoom until pandemic constraints are lifted.

The program will follow the principles and practices of Alcoholics Anonymous, and be open to anyone looking for help in addiction recovery, whether from alcohol, drugs, smoking, eating disorders, sex, or gambling. Alumni, faculty, and students from neighboring universities will be welcome to attend.

According to its creator, who asked to remain anonymous, the beauty of Penn-Wharton Recovery’s 12-step groups is that “they are not overseen by clinicians—people suffering from addiction share their experience, strength, and hope with one another.”

Gratitude @ Wharton is a platform for students to express thanks and appreciation toward one another in order to create a more caring culture at Wharton and increase happiness and general well-being. It will consist of an online submission form where students will have the opportunity to express their gratitude for another member of the Wharton community.

“The creation of this initiative enabled me to draw on my own struggles with mental well-being throughout the past few years in order to generate a platform that will encourage members of the Wharton community to take time to engage in the practice of expressing gratitude, a tool which I have found invaluable in helping me regain a more positive outlook on my life and hope for the future,” says Wharton student Louisa Cacchione, the platform’s creator. “My hope is for this initiative to create a gratitude movement at Wharton and beyond.”
Robertson says Wharton students, Board members, and staff worked together to bring this event to life.

“It was extremely gratifying to see their considerable energy around student wellness,” she says.

Kramer says the Wharton Dolphin Tank was an impactful and powerful event to witness.

“It showed how deeply the students care about making a genuine difference in the lives of their fellow classmates, and how committed the students are about prioritizing well-being at Wharton,” he says.

Rachel Johannesen, past co-chair of Wharton Wellness and an event organizer, says witnessing students’ perspectives and ideas was an eye-opening way to realize the opportunities for impact.

“I was inspired by how the administration, the executive board, and students alike are so passionate about wellness,” she says.

Peter Berkman, a member of the Wharton Undergraduate Executive Board, says it is great to see a true collaboration among the Wharton executive board, the Undergrad Division, and the students.

“Even more inspiring was the student participation, and the number of great ideas we received as part of this pilot event,” he says. “We look forward to making the Wharton Dolphin Tank an annual undergraduate event.”



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