A senior in the LSM program and former President of Penn’s Kite and Key Society, Ryan Leone is always finding new ways to get involved at Penn. When he’s not out at pop punk concerts or perfecting his newest magic trick, you’ll find him working hard towards his goal of becoming a physician for the US Army or eating in one of Penn's dining halls (yes, he is still on the dining plan).
Name: Ryan Leone
Hometown: Long Island, New York
Major/School: LSM Program, majoring in BBB in the College, Health Care Management & Policy in Wharton
Activities: Former President of Kite and Key, Founder of Wharton Neuroscience Initiative, Authors@Wharton Committee, Varsity Sprint Football, RA in the Quad, Alpha Iota Gamma, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Synapse Health Care Journal, Founder of Student Group Armed, Penn Health Tech Student Board, Friars Senior Society
34th Street Magazine: How’s your senior year been going so far?
Ryan Leone: It’s been going well. I think it’s definitely a lot different than the previous years, not because it’s less busy, but because my approach to senior year has changed. I feel more comfortable in everything I’m doing, and I recognize that there’s a lot of things that you think matter during your first few years at Penn but in reality, aren’t quite as important as you think they may be. So now it’s all about trying to get underclassmen to realize the same thing earlier than when I did.
Street: Take me back to your freshman year. What made you decide to come to Penn?
RL: You’re going to get a Kite and Key answer from me here. For me, Penn was the most balanced place I could find. I was really interested in having close–knit connections with my professors and small classes, but I didn’t want to sacrifice having the resources of a big city. Penn felt like that complete balance of the two, having the close communities and connections that you would get at a liberal arts college but also the benefits of being at a large research university, and the sixth largest urban center in the United States (sound familiar?).
Street: What made you decide to apply for the LSM program?
RL: My interest in LSM comes from the fact that I hope to be a physician in the US Army and a medical commander. When you’re in the military, you serve clinically as a doctor for soldiers. But what happens is that earlier than in the civilian sphere, you’re able to take the jump to become more of a manager. Basically, you get the opportunity to balance clinical medicine, where you’re seeing patients in a one–on–one setting and you’re saving lives, with management by changing the way a hospital overall is run and shaping the culture within that hospital, or even more broadly at the policy level.
Street: Did you always know you wanted to become a physician in the US Army?
RL: When I was younger, I bounced around a whole bunch of ideas. At first, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was obsessed with Animal Planet, I always watched The Jeff Corwin Experience. But eventually, I decided “Eh, maybe not, I’ll be a magician instead,” and to this day, I actually still have a hobby of doing magic tricks. But after that phase, I realized I had a knack for arguing with some of the adults in my boy scout troop, and they told me I should be a lawyer, so I was like “oh yeah, I’ll totally be a lawyer!”. But then again, I started watching TV shows about space and astronomy and I was like, “I’m gonna be the next great physicist!” That phase lasted until about 10th grade when I went to a physics summer camp at Stony Brook University and it was miserable. And to this day, I still hate physics. But all of this just made me reevaluate what I wanted to do, and I had never thought about medicine before but I realized I love talking to people and I love being able to make people feel better when they are vulnerable, whether it be venting about a bad day they had or just helping them with their math homework, and I realized that medicine is the epitome of all of that.
Street: What made you want to become an RA and how has your experience been?
RL: I wanted to be an RA because I felt that over the past few years, I’ve really had the chance to get involved in a wide variety of activities on campus and they’ve all taught me a lot about what this incredible university has to offer. And these were things that I didn’t really realize my freshman year. I spent hours upon hours just researching all the different things that were available at Penn, so I figured I could take that knowledge and sort of provide it to freshman at an early age. I also really just wanted to help freshman navigate the big jump into college as easily as possible.
Street: When you do manage to have some down time, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
RL: I go to pop punk concerts, which sounds so nerdy, especially because I don’t fit the bill of what people think of when they think of pop punk fans. They typically think of people with piercings, crazy hair, all black attire, and chains hanging out—that was me in middle school. Everyone else dropped that whole idea of listening to angsty music when they were in seventh grade, but I am still here today doing the same thing. But yeah, I go to a lot of concerts, often times alone because I know that there aren’t a lot of people that listen to the same genre that I do, but it’s still so much fun.
Street: What do you think you will miss most about Penn?
RL: I don’t want to say the people. Because everyone says the people. But it definitely is the people. I think the answer is kind of trite, but it’s something that you can’t avoid saying because it’s so true. You’ll never forget the types of encounters and situations you had, the late nights you spent either out with friends doing things that are bad for your health or in with friends watching movies or just having deep philosophical discussions that you didn’t plan on having when you have an exam the next day. You might regret it in the moment, but in the long–term you’ll realize that it was much more valuable to have that openness with people that you only get four years with.
Street: What advice do you have for other students here at Penn?
RL: Things will work out. When you’re stressed or when you’re not stressed, it’s really hard to see beyond what’s currently happening to you. That failed exam, that broken friendship, that ex who got with your former best friend, or whatever it is that’s going on in your life—just hold onto the idea that, in the long–run, this won’t matter to you. Thinking about a few years down the road when there are more valuable things that you’ll be spending your time doing, it really gives you this sense of relief from all that’s happening. It pays off to just take a step back and say, “hey, I’m going to do my best while I’m here. I’m going to make sure that I don’t regret these years and have the best time I can.
Street: Favorite animal?
RL: Lemur. I love lemurs. I went to the Duke Lemur Center one time and I was on top of the world.
Street: Best place to eat on campus?
RL: Just Salad (don’t judge me).
Street: What celebrity would you have play you in a movie about your life?
RL: What’s the guy’s name who plays Deadpool? Ryan Reynolds. He’s just really cool and I wish I was even one–quarter as attractive and funny as he is. Plus, we have the same name.
Street: Go–to karaoke song?
RL: "Mr. Brightside."
Street: Any weird talents?
RL: Magic tricks. I always carry a deck of cards with me.
Street: Favorite movie?
RL: I love Gattaca. I know everyone says that they watched it in 7th grade bio, and I’m just like, “Please, let me feel like I’m not just watching a middle school movie.” Crash is a favorite for me too.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
RL: Those who stay on the meal plan until senior year (like me) and those who get off the moment they can leave it.