I’m lucky that Daniel Gordon (C ’21) found a time in his Google Calendar to add me in—but he always has time for his fellow Penn students. College Chair of the 2021 Class Board, Power of Penn Student Campaign Committee member, Social Planning & Events Committee Connaissance Secretary, and Penn Peer Advisor for the classes of 2022 and 2023. These are only a sample of the activities on Daniel’s schedule dedicated to the Penn community. The thing that keeps him going? His love for wellness and school spirit.
As a founding member of the Phi Chi Theta business fraternity, Daniel is committed to combining pre–professional excellence with a positive and productive environment. “We want people to succeed in the short term, but thrive in the long term,” he says. His inspiration to found the chapter was rooted in “wanting to start something new.” While Phi Chi Theta is still a pre–professional space, one of its founding principles is to create a mentally supportive environment for all its members, which Daniel believes is extremely important, but often overlooked. “Wellness is at the center of [Phi Chi Theta],” Daniel adds.
“On–Campus Recruiting is immensely stressful for everyone involved. But having a group of people to go through it [with] is an amazing thing," Daniel says. "We have a text group, we help each other out [with] deadlines and everything, and also just supporting each other during information sessions, letting each other know what classes to take. It’s a great community.”
A supportive community is definitely where Daniel thrives, and it's often through supporting others that he finds the most fulfillment. Adorned in a Penn hat and a class of 2021 sweatshirt, along with a laptop marked by 2021 stickers, school spirit is a fundamental part of his life. He also launched U–Night, an event for sophomore students.
“First year students have convocation and the Econ scream, juniors have Hey Day, and seniors have graduation. Sophomore year was basically ‘no man’s land,'” Daniel says.
As a member of the Class Board, he spearheaded U–Night with his co–chair, Charlie Curtis Thomas (C ’21). Last year it launched, celebrating the various achievements of sophomore year ranging from declaring a major to grasping a greater sense of one’s identity,or finding a solid community at Penn.
The first event was a success, bringing in about 1,000 sophomore students. He points to his favorite portion of the night: the Q&A portion. There were questions such as "Who is in the College?" and "Who feels like a leader on campus?" Students would turn on their given lanterns to answer yes.
Beyond this one initiative, Daniel has worked to make sector requirements more accessible for a variety of Penn students' interests, encouraged more interdisciplinary coursework, and consulted on financial aid and registration policies. It’s clear that Daniel thrives in a busy, yet organized, environment. He has approached his summers with not a "can–do" attitude, but with a "can–do–double" attitude. His freshman summer consisted of taking classes and working at a sports management agency. This last summer he worked at a think tank at the Lauder Institute in addition to an insurance benefits company.
He spent the summer before his first year at Penn doing something pretty unconventional—working in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. He described the experience as one of the, “most random things I’ve done.” Based on a connection with a friend from the United Nations Youth Assembly, he pursued an internship on four different islands in which he visited twenty different schools for the Minister of Education. One of his projects included suggesting newfound tactics for extracurricular programming. “It was an amazing experience. Definitely put me outside my comfort zone, going alone to a country and living there in the mountains and on the island for a month. But, it was really cool and a lot of fun,” Daniel shares.
Daniel says that most people would never guess how he spends his limited down time. I like playing different games like Madden and Risk," he says, but his television obsession is perhaps even more shocking. “I’ve watched 80 Netflix shows from beginning to end,” Daniel adds as he pulls out his Netflix application on his bright blue iPhone and shows me an extensive list of shows across a wide array of genres. Unsurprisingly, he offered to help me with my own Netflix adventure: "If you ever need a recommendation, let me know."