Street: So you were in
Israel this summer. What for?
Lauren Silberberg: Yeah, so I was doing
this program called Birthright Israel Excel. So basically it’s a ten–week
internship. Part of it I was working at General Motors, um which was really
interesting. I was doing an intersection between autonomous systems and
autonomous vehicles. And then also, um... like ride–sharing. And I
actually patented this idea and it’s like in the works, so hopefully that’ll go
through. Um, and then another part of the program is you're sort of paired
within Israel with a peer to kind of get you integrated into society. Um we
went on runs together, she showed me around to like cool beaches, cool
restaurants. And then another part of the program is speakers, so you basically
have like speakers come––three to four a week and like you hear from––we heard
from the CEO of Google. We heard from some really, really interesting people.
So it’s a really comprehensive program. I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
Street: And what was the
idea you patented?
LS: I don’t think I
can say details, but it was basically like a different way of looking at the
ride–sharing space. So right now, sort of it’s end to end point. So, you get in
an Uber or a Lyft or whatever, and you get, if you’re ride–sharing, you’re
getting in with someone like close to you, close by. So this is like a little
bit different and it’s a little bit more specific to the person. And so GM
actually invested a lot in Lyft so we were sort of working with the Lyft
Street: What are you
involved in on campus?
LS: I’m really involved
in the Panhellenic Council which is overseeing all the different sororities.
Throughout the year we plan different events [and] fundraise for scholarships
so women who can’t pay for sororities can still have a chance to be a part of
them. We really want to work with mental health and do an initiative with that.
I’m also really involved in Theta Tau, which is my favorite thing in the entire
world. It’s basically like a group of brothers who are really supportive,
really different. Everyone’s very unique and I think I’ve learned a lot from
everyone there. Those are my main two involvements on campus.
Street: What field in
engineering are you studying?
LS: Networked and Social
Systems Engineering. So, it’s a combination of econ, math and computer science.
It sort of looks at how systems work. So for one class we looked at how
Facebook works, like how friends interact with each other, and then actually
coded the ‘friend request’ algorithm. We do a lot of comp sci, but not to the
extent of a comp sci major. And then we also learn econ and the more business
side of it. I’m doing a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship which has also
been really interesting. So for that you take different classes and sort of get
a feel for how products work from like beginning to end. You go through
marketing strategy, business strategy and overall how you would start your own
company which is really cool.
Street: So when you’re using
social media, are you thinking about all the stuff and all the technical
details behind it?
LS: Sometimes. I think
it really depends on my mood. Like if I had just come from a class, then maybe
yeah. Um, but other times—most of the time, I’m not thinking about the
technicality of it.
Street: When you have a free
moment, what do you do to relax?
LS: I really like exercising.
I ran a half marathon—two half marathons last year. Um, so that was really cool
‘cause it was sort of giving me a goal to train for. I just think exercising is
just a great mental health de–stresser. I also really like reading but
unfortunately don’t have any time for it at Penn.
Street: You have three
sisters. How has being in a sorority or having three sisters impacted either
LS: So we call ourselves
‘The Silberberg Sorority.’ When I was growing up I sort of knew I wanted to be
in a sorority and like loved the fact that the house was always busy and crazy
and loud. And that actually is what drove me to live in SDT because I didn’t
get a chance to live in sophomore year. I think I knew going in that I wanted
to be in a sorority. I think in a lot of ways having a supportive community of
all girls is different and a lot of times like has a different dynamic that is
really inclusive, and I think that that’s one of the things that drew me to
Street: You mentioned mental
health a couple of times. So, how important are things like Theta Tau and SDT
for mental health?
LS: I definitely think
at Penn, and really in college in general, one of the hardest things is finding
a community of supportive people, and it’s definitely possible. This is
something that last semester I struggled a lot with because the communities
that I’m in are exclusive by nature, and they can’t encompass the entire
student body. So I think that when seniors in high school are talking to me or
are like, ‘How do you like Penn? How do you like college?’ My response is ‘It
is what you make of it.’ And so if you go out and look for those communities,
like sometimes things might be hard. The Birthright Excel program that I
applied to, I got rejected the year before when I applied. So like, there is
rejection. I do think my sorority’s very supportive. I think the Wellness
Workshops SDT has put on have been unbelievable, and I’ve been to almost all of
them. I really think that it’s those sort of conversations that need to be had,
and ought to be had a lot more. And in Theta Tau, we did something similar. We
did something called ‘Share’ which actually was taken from Phi Psi. Basically
we sat there in a room, like didn’t give anyone a time limit, didn’t say you
had to speak, and if someone wanted to speak they could speak as little or as
long as they want about something happy, something sad—just something about
themselves that they felt was important to share. It ended up going for like
six or seven hours.
Street: People often criticize
Greek life. How do you deal with that?
LS: First of all,
everything has their ups and downs and I think the structures in place
sometimes make it difficult. I think a lot of like sorority things have been in
place for years and years and years. And so, some of that I can’t change
because it’s written in the by–laws. But I think there are ways to like make it
so that people understand the reasoning behind why you’re doing certain events,
certain activities. As an executive board if we know, okay, we’re sending 25%
of the chapter to the Vagina Monologues because it’s gonna raise money for
Women Organized Against Rape, then if we can somehow communicate that to
the overall student body, then that maybe makes it a little bit easier. I think
this year, my goal is sort of to work towards creating events that are
really meaningful and have three different reasons why they benefit the
Street: What drove you to
take on the role of leading Panhel?
LS: I saw the community
as having a lot of potential. One–third of the school is involved in Greek life
and there’s a lot of opportunities for fundraising and for different ways to
sort of unite the community, and I wanted to be a part of that and I wanted to
be a part of making it more cohesive and inclusive, and I hope to keep
doing that this semester. But I think that’s why as I sort of saw Panhellenic,
not as as an institution that just says, ‘Here are the rules, if you disobey
them you’re punished.’ It’s more like, ‘We want to work together.’ It was also
in a very sort of interesting place because I think when I took over the role
as president there was a lot of rules set in place that were very
controversial. I also think the Greek community as a whole was going through a
lot of different cultural issues and things of that nature, so I think just
kind of being able to see from both sides and maybe being able to be an in–between
between the administration and students was a cool and unique experience.
Street: What would you be
LS: I have a couple of
different outfits that I wear so I think I’d be infamous for repeating outfits
all the time. And by that, I love to dance, but I also think I have one dance
move that I do, so I definitely think people know by that and can repeat it
pretty spot on.
Street: There are two types
of people at Penn…
LS: People who live to eat and people who eat to
Street: If you could give
advice to freshmen women or sophomores that are rushing what do you think your
main piece of advice would be before heading into that process?
LS: I would say that
while I think rush is a necessary process, how it is just because it is so
organized to make sure no one falls through the cracks, it’s not necessarily
indicative of what sorority life is like. I don’t think anyone is like ‘Yes,
I’m excited to wait in line in the cold in January,’ but when you get through
that process, really, like, you have a pledge class of 50 girls who you have
the opportunity to meet and say that it’s worth it–to come out on the other
side and have that network.
Street: First screen name?
Street: What is one question
that we forgot to ask you?
LS: So, I haven’t been
in a while, but I love hiking and in high school I went off–trail backpacking
in Colorado. My goal is to hike the Appalachian trail one day, like take four
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.