Growing up, I was really shy.

My nickname in elementary school was “Miss Quiet,” and my parents once took me to the pediatrician because they were worried that something was wrong with my vocal cords. You might not expect that from me, since I talk too much nowadays and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to engage my Uber drivers in conversation, but I think I’m actually still quite shy. I’ve just become vastly interested in the different lives and interests of the people (often, strangers) I meet. It’s one of the lessons I’ve amassed from my favorite professor’s class: let us find beauty in the ordinary around us. 

At a place like Penn, it can be easy to feel intimated by our peers. Perhaps this edition of Penn 10 won’t help with that—within these pages we have a Rhodes Scholar, a MIT–bound graduate, and a Broadway dancer. But we also have profiles that emphasize the intersecting and diverging personalities and predilections of our nominees. Read about their dreams, their favorite Penn memories, their childhoods, their aspiring rap careers, their pet peeves, and, of course, their journeys after graduation. 

We didn’t want to make them seem like superheroes (their accomplishments can speak for themselves). We wanted to emphasize that these are people in your classes, people you could run into on Locust, people you could walk past in Pret. They are your peers and classmates.

The semester’s about to end. So Penn, I challenge you to be of interest to one another. Who’s someone you wish you had talked to? Reach out to them.

What’s stopping you? 

All my best,

Sabrina Qiao