Name: Dani Lozano
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Major: Computer Science
Activities: New Member Educator for Sigma Delta Tau, previous social chair for Theta Tau, president of Hex Senior Society, member of Carriage Senior Society
34th Street: What was it like growing up in Miami?
Dani Lozano: Miami is a crazy place. I actually grew up on this island called Key Biscayne, so I grew up very island–life. I drove golf carts around when I was 13 years old, definitely illegal—oh god, don’t arrest me now. It was one of the safest places, I think, in the country. I don't know, I might just be bullshitting that. It's a huge cultural melting pot. I spoke Spanish with all my friends. I'm Colombian and I speak Spanish with my parents at all hours. They speak English, but it's a very thick accent—think Gloria from Modern Family. But in a way, it's not diverse because everyone I know is Latino, and that's all I've ever known. So when I came here it was different. There is a very strong Latino community here, which I actually didn't infiltrate, which is interesting … But the biggest culture shock was having to say hi to people without giving them a kiss, which I think we should all adopt because I think it breaks a lot of ice. But in Miami, you go around the entire party, and you say hi to everyone with a kiss. Period. You feel like you know everyone while you're there.
Street: Why did you decide to join SDT?
DL: I never would have imagined myself being in a sorority, but once you get down to the bare bones of what it is, it's another support system on this campus. It just seemed like the thing to do, and obviously as a freshman you don't know what the hell you're doing, so you're like, 'Whatever, it looks like people are doing this.' … I chose SDT because it was the one sorority that while I was rushing I could feel like they had a really strong sisterhood, as cliche as that is, but you can tell if the people are actually friends with each other. And I just vibed with them.
Street: Why did you decide to join Theta Tau?
DL: The way I heard about Theta Tau. You’ll learn—through this interview, I guess—that my brother is a pretty big influence on my life. We’re different personalities in a way, but we're very similar people in our interests. We've been together, obviously, since birth. We went to the same high school, obviously the same college; he's also in comp sci and engineering. He was also on Theta Tau, so he introduced me to a lot of people there, and I saw how much fun he was having in that community. I had joined SDT my freshman spring and there's not many engineers—there's maybe six engineers in my pledge class of maybe 50 girls, I was still missing that. And every single person I met in Theta Tau was super, super genuine, super nice, and it’s a diverse group of people. It's just a really small intimate community compared to that of a sorority. A sorority is like 200 girls while Theta Tau ranges between 65 to 75 people. One thing that I really, really love that Theta Tau does, they really emphasize people getting to know the brotherhood. By the end of the new member education process you end up meeting every single person in the organization.
Street: Why did you decide to join both?
DL: I love having both. Actually encourage every single engineer that comes through SDT to rush Theta Tau and I got two last semester. They're just so different that they satisfy different needs. They’re two communities, two support systems. SDT might not be diverse culturally—I think that’s an issue with the Greek system in general—but they’re diverse major-wise, so I learn a lot about different perceptions academically and intellectually. Obviously in Theta Tau, everyone's an engineer, within which there are different disciplines, but everyone there is more culturally diverse, and have a variety of interests that might not just be social. They’re more weird in a way. We call it 'Theta Tau Weird'—it’s like our brand.
Street: What are you doing post–graduation?
DL: I accepted my offer in September or October. I've been interning with Microsoft for the last two years for Xbox, so I'm just going back. I applied for their Explore program my sophomore year, which is basically this 12 week rotation program where you do 4 weeks of program management, which is kind of like designing a product, and 8 weeks of software engineering, where you implement that. I got lucky because they just randomly match people for those internships, and you could get whatever team. And so when I went in to interview that day, all three of my interviewers worked in Xbox. That indicated that I was going to be on the Xbox team, and I was like 'fuck yes.'
Street: Why did you decide to join the Carriage Senior Society?
DL: My freshman year, I was coming with a lot of baggage and a lot of ties to home. Seattle [Microsoft internship] was the first time I was away from all that. It was kind of nice because I had my two communities: I had SDT, I had Theta Tau. I knew I was loved and cared for. I felt supported. I was like, 'Seattle, I’m going to own this city.' It’s a very queer city also, and I decided to just be myself there. I've always known that I'm gay. It was never like, 'oh, I'm curious.' It was something I've always known—I was deliberately hiding it from people. That summer was really great and then I went abroad, too, so it was another opportunity to explore. I had this great eight months of living by myself, and that just became my life. So when I came back my junior spring, I was just like, game over, because this is who I am. I started getting more involved in the queer community and it was really amazing because I found some of the greatest people that I’ve known at Penn and I’m still meeting them now to this day.
Street: What are your thoughts on diversity in Greek Life?
DL: Because I'm in SDT, people usually paint me as a white Jewish girl. I just don't fit any of those labels, so it's actually led me to be more loud about who I am, because it seems like people continue to erase my identity. It's a vicious cycle, and it's on both ends. First of all, dues are way too expensive financially. It's not sustainable for anyone that's low income, and usually the majority of the time those are minorities. Also there's this whole issue with sororities being stereotyped. If people want to join SDT and they're not Jewish or whatever, they feel uncomfortable in those environments, so they decide not to join. They miss out on this amazing sisterhood, because we don't give a shit if you're Jewish or not. Everyone is really welcoming, and I've never felt out of place there. We try to dismantle the idea that we're just one kind of person. We've been working on that with our diversity committee for the last three or four years and we're pretty aggressive on that front. I am straight–passing and white–passing in a way, which angers me, but I continue to use that privilege to get more visibility. Being on the executive board is important because, with the new members, I'm very clear about who I am. I am a gay woman, I am Latina—this is who I am. Just having that ability makes that one girl who's maybe a little nervous about it feel a little better, knowing that you can be whatever and still play an important role in this sorority, and be respected.
Street: Smokes' or Copa?
DL: Oh my God. So I'm a Copa ambassador. I live literally right next to Copa. I put on this crazy happy hour the other day and they gave me a sweater, so l'm forced to say Copa. But I do frequent Smokes'.
Street: Favorite type of food?
DL: Sushi. Japanese, for sure.
Street: Do you have any hidden talents or skills?
DL: I guess I can beatbox. I love doing LoveStoned by Justin Timberlake. But I never joined an acapella group. Maybe one regret. Maybe I should have done that. My voice is not that great.
Street: Favorite language to code in?
Street: What is your favorite video game to play on the Xbox?
DL: So right now it's Fortnite, because it's easier to play than PUBG, so I don't want people to hate me. And I have not checked out the new Battle Royale game.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
DL: Those who ask 'why' and those who ask 'why not.' You need 'why not' people in your life. Also shout out Remi and Raquel for that one—they’ll kill me if I don’t.
This interview has been edited and condensed.