This week's Ego Of The Week talks vegan food, Judaism, and reminds us that yes, academics do matter. A member of Philomathean Society, Hillel, and much more, meet Naomi:
Name: Naomi Kadish
Hometown: Teaneck, New Jersey
Activities: Hillel, UA committee director, Venus Ultimate Women's Frisbee Team, Philomathean Society, Director at Weiss Tech House
34th Street Magazine: How do you have time for everything?
Naomi Kadish: So, I think last year I really didn't. I think the trick for me for getting everything done is just knowing how to be really good at time management, so knowing how long things are going to take and being efficient on doing them. If I'm going to sit down to do something, I do it within that hour and that has been pretty effective for me.
Street: What steps did you take in finding and choosing how you fit in on campus? How did you choose the clubs you're in?
NK: I got to campus, and for me, it was really obvious to be involved with Hillel because I grew up in a religious Jewish home. I really wanted to be involved with the Jewish community on campus and be a leader—give back in a lot of ways—so I feel like that was my starting point. The reason I joined UA was because I felt like I wanted to represent Hillel on UA and be a voice for the Jewish community, but also meet people from every different community on campus, which is really cool. So, Weiss Tech House. I'm really interested in the future of technology and where the tech industry is taking us, and I really wanted to be hands–on. So actually, before I was director of Weiss Tech House, I was the head of the startup accelerator out of Weiss Tech House, which is called Weiss Labs, and I was on the founding committee of that. That was really exciting to be able to build something from the ground up. We're kind of a start–up for start–ups. I got to see about 20 companies go from doing nothing, half of them deciding not to continue, and the other half continuing today. Seeing them on Facebook, seeing their progress, and following their businesses is really cool. I joined Philo as an intellectual outlet. I'm a philosophy major. I love talking to other people who are interested in the world around them. Politics, history, thinking about things. That's been pretty cool. Women's Ultimate has been really great for me in terms of my physical health. I joined it because I wanted a group of people to support me in that and I found so much more, made so many great friends. The Ultimate community is amazing, not just on Penn's campus, but throughout the whole U.S.
Street: I think a lot of people are just like what the f***k is Philo, so what is it and how did you get involved?
NK: So, Philo is branded as America's first literary society, because their first project was that they translated the Rosetta Stone, the first English translation, which is crazy. It's totally not like that now. It's a community of intellectuals who find that a lot of Penn's social communities don’t give them the outlet they want. It’s less about any formal type of thing and more about bringing together a community of people who are trying to find alternative ways to engage with people. There are really formal ways within Philo, so for example, at each meeting, there is a formal presentation that people give. I actually gave mine 4 weeks ago, and I gave it on individual responsibility given collective action problems, so talking about a lot of issues. People talk about bird watching, this week’s meeting is going to be about chicken tikka masala, so it's a whole range of ideas you get to talk about. Philo also does the annual oration, which is the big event where they bring in a really big–named speaker. Last year, we brought in Jane Goodall. This year, we're bringing in Michael Gazzaniga, the guy who wrote all the psych textbooks, so he's a pretty big deal. So, we get to do cool stuff like that.
Street: So, what have been your favorite memories so far?
NK: I think one of my favorite memories is I did the spring break trip last spring break, called Alliance for Understanding. It's right under the Greenfield Intercultural Center, and it's about Jewish support of black communities during the civil rights movement and it brings together a group of people from completely different backgrounds to talk about identity politics. What I found really powerful about it was, first of all, I’ve been in a lot of spaces where I’ve been exposed to a Jewish narrative, but this space was really focused on black narrative and focused on people who are different than me in a community of people who have completely different perspectives. I went on it with one of my best friends, Briana Johnson, and growing my relationship with her and being able to be in spaces that are about her history were really powerful for me.
Street: So, what's your favorite thing about Penn?
NK: Honestly, that I'm simultaneously able to be in one of the top universities in the world, engaging with professors at a high level in analytic philosophy, and be able to go to some of the best vegan food I’ve ever had.
Street: Least favorite?
NK: Probably people not taking their academics seriously enough and not engaging enough. I really wish there was more of a community of people who valued being in the classroom where I think a lot of people are shopping all the time.
Street: What are you most passionate about?
NK: I would say Judaism and philosophy. Philosophy, both as an academic discipline and also as a way of thinking about my life and being really thoughtful and intentional. Judaism is a way to structure meaning and community into my life.
Street: So, if you had a free day to do absolutely anything you wanted, what would it be?
NK: Reading on a beach with people who I care about.
Street: You're about to graduate. Where are you going? What's the future got in store?
NK: So, I’m going to be working at—they call it a deployment strategist—but it's basically a product manager at Palantir next year. So what I’m going to be doing is interfacing between clients, helping understand their needs and value, and then working with engineers to build our software for clients. So that's really exciting. It’s just a really amazing tech company.
Street: How would your friends describe you?
NK: Thoughtful, dependable, kind, and sometimes, they’re going to say smart, but I wouldn't.
Street: You've been on campus for four years and now you're leaving. What do you hope to see improved?
NK: One thing I’ve been focused on is how communities can interact with each other. My biggest project this year has been the Muslim–Jewish Cooperative, which is a group that I helped start with the help of 5 other people. It was my idea, but 5 other people were on the board, and right now our fellows are 6 Muslims and 6 Jews. We got together 6 times this semester to talk about different topics like being Muslim on campus, being Jewish on campus, finding common group understanding, learning about each other’s histories, and I saw that as something I could personally bring to this campus as a unique perspective. I have a lot of friends who are in MSA who I’m close with, so I feel like I could bridge that gap, but I’d like to see more of those gaps bridged.
Street: What should every Penn student do before they graduate?
NK: Spend more time in Center city. This city is awesome.
Street: Most underrated spot on campus?
Street: Favorite show right now?
NK: She's Gotta Have It.
Street: Favorite Movie?
NK: Batman. The Dark Knight.
Street: Worst favorite movie?
NK: Little Miss Sunshine.
Street: Guilty pleasure?
NK: Australian licorice.
Street: First AIM name?
NK: Seetie95 because my sister misspelled sweetie without the w, so I was seetie95, which is my birth year.
Street: There are 2 types of people at Penn?
NK: The ones who are crazy and the ones who think everyone else is crazy.