“This is basically the culmination of my time at Penn,” Sophie says, cupping a steaming Saxby's drink. She laughs and leans forward. “How exactly does Street pick its Ego of the Week anyways?”
Sophie is curious by nature. She tries to gain new perspectives from any experience. As Sophie says, she “was always the kid freshman year trying to meet as many people as possible, stopping them on Locust to chat, and getting coffee with someone new each day.” She was the only Jewish person in her high school back in Wichita, Kansas, and she was excited to connect with the Jewish community at Penn. She quickly became involved in SDT, Penn Hillel board, and Penn Shabbatones.
“I felt that this was awesome," she says, "But at the same time I realized that after second semester freshman year everyone finds their performing arts groups, their Greek organizations, their sports teams, their halls, their groups and then they just stop branching out.” To combat this segregated Penn culture, Sophie founded TableTalk her sophomore year. The group provides "a framework for conversation between people who would not interact under ordinary circumstances," according to its website.
TableTalk is responsible for the couches on College Green where people can sit and meet someone new by creating another open space on campus where people can feel comfortable, and free from pressure. Table Talks, which typically last one hour, are geared towards more specific dialogue. Topics that students don’t usually have time to talk about such as mental health, religion, sexuality and the election are addressed in a judgment free and relaxed environment. The most recent TableTalk, “Beyond the Ban,” dealt with the current immigration and refugee crisis.
She has facilitated its expansion onto 15 other college campuses, and hopes to make it a non–profit during her remaining time at Penn next semester while she finishes up her masters in non–profit leadership at Penn's School of Social Policy and Practice. The club has grown in size to include nearly 50 members. “We all retreat into these echo chambers of like–minded individuals, and there is no vehicle to bring us back together,” Sophie says. ”It wasn’t just me feeling swept up in the hustle of Penn, but a lot of people. TableTalk is my way of attempting to push people out of their comfort zones.”
“I’m a huge believer in taking everything Penn has to offer, seizing the moment and running with it. Penn has the resources, so just do it. Some people are afraid to make changes, but it can become something beautiful,” Sophie exclaims. Her voice takes on a pensive tone as she describes the legacy she hopes to leave on the Penn community. She wants to be known as a go–getter, who never passed up an opportunity to do something meaningful with her time.
Sophie is the President of Osiris Senior Society. This past year, she founded Osiris's philanthropy event, "Collabs for Charity," an open–mic, cabaret style evening with different collaborations that raises money to fund West Philadelphia High School's choir program. Sophie has been a music teacher at West Philly High School for four years now, working to elevate the students' arts experience. She is also a member of Friars Senior Society, the Performance Manager for the Shabbatones a capella group and a member of SDT. Realizing very early on that she was not the cliché internship–seeking Penn student, Sophie spent most of her summers working at the summer camp she used to attend. She also worked at the Penn Admissions office, running their social media and promoting their events. She continues to run their social media accounts, in addition to the accounts of Penn Hillel, Shabbatones, TableTalk, and the A Cappella Council.
Given Sophie’s track record of active involvement here at Penn, it is only natural to wonder what she will do after graduating and receiving her master's. “If there were no limitations then I would definitely want to be on Broadway. My cousins are all on Broadway, so I’ve always just looked up to them. I love musical theatre,” she says. “Ideally, though, one day I’ll be running some non–profit. Maybe I’ll even be the next Amy G!”
Sophie in her own words:
Street: Biggest warning for freshmen?
SB: Don’t take astronomy!
Are there seasons in Kansas?
SB: That’s a new one! I get so many different questions about Kansas, so when there’s one I haven’t heard before its refreshing. I think the last question I was asked is if we have wifi. Everyone just thinks of Kansas as this farmland and that I’m Dorothy. The most ridiculous things I’ve been asked are whether I start school late because of the harvest season, and whether Wichita is a restaurant. I like to mess with people a bit though, and tell them I got my tractor license at 14.
Best breakfast spot on campus?
SB: Honest Tom’s, sweet potato breakfast burrito. Then you can just hop on over to the Little Pop Shop and do a little combo action.
Most spontaneous thing you’ve done at Penn?
SB: Last week on that beautiful 70 degree day, I skipped my three hour class to go get margs at Mad Mex with Rich who is a previous EOTW!
There are two types of people at Penn…
SB: Those who were extremely devastated when Allegro changed their 24/7 hour policy and those at Penn who didn’t even notice. My roommates and I were literally crying.
Cats or dogs?
SB: Dogs. I was never allowed to have a pet growing up. At most my brother and I were allowed to get a beta fish, which was a huge deal. One night my dad said they were probably lonely and needed a friend, but when we woke up they had eaten each other alive. Sorry, that escalated quickly.
Who is your celeb crush?
SB: Josh Hutcherson. I met him when I was younger because my cousin used to play on his basketball team.
What is your go–to drink?
SB: A glass of pinot noir. I’ve officially moved past Franzia.
What would you sing in a lip sync battle?
SB: “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” by Whitney Houston.
Underrated TV Show?
SB: Nashville! I would also say The Affair. It’s super intense; definitely a good treadmill show. Oh, and Unreal! One of the producers of The Bachelor left the show because it’s really fucked up and created this new show to inform people of what really happens behind the scenes.
f you are what you eat you are…
SB: I’m either the Brussels sprouts from Tap House, Aksum, Zahav or Sampan. I have a passion for Brussels sprouts. My dream is to write an article for Street comparing Brussels sprouts throughout Philly and getting people’s input. (Ed. note: Look out for Street's dining guide!)
What did we forget to ask you?
SB: I guess what type of music I’m into. A few years ago I made all these Spotify playlists weirdly titled “hipster status.” Now we are on “hipster status phase 10,” which I’m super into because I think it works for walking to class or working out, and even hanging out. You should check it out!
And as if all of this wasn't impressive enough, Sophie even has her own website. Mic drop.