Name: DJ Dorch
Hometown: It’s hard to answer that question. I was born in Brooklyn, NY, but I also travelled a lot, and I went to High School in Hershey, PA.
Major: Environmental Studies
Activities: President of Mock Trial, Kappa Alpha Theta
34th Street: Why did you decide to come to Penn?
DJ Dorch: I did a summer program at Penn going into sophomore year. It was a biomedical research program. My mom always sent me to nerd camps so that was the first one that she sent me to. I really enjoyed it and my lab instructor, who I think was a grad student at Penn, was teaching all of us high schoolers, but I knew absolutely nothing because all these people had taken AP Chem and AP Bio, and I had just done year one of chemistry. I connected really well with the lab instructor because I was behind and she would stay behind and catch me up. I then met some really good friends who, some of them go to Penn or just graduated. So after I did that camp I knew that this was the only place I wanted to go. My mom wouldn’t let me do Early Decision—she didn’t want me to zone in on one thing—but the second I got in all my friends knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.
Street: Why did you decide to join Mock Trial?
DD: A few reasons. One, my mom is a corporate lawyer, and we do criminal [on mock trial], so it is pretty different. So, I had already learned things about law from hearing her conference calls. Also, one of my friends from, again, one of these nerds camps, he was on the team and during the activities fair they called me over and said "You know, you should apply," so I decided to give it a shot.
Street: Where do you feel most at home?
DD: I would say Hershey, but I would say it’s more when I’m with my friends from Hershey or my parents. I am fairly at home also when my parents and I travel to places I used to live. It’s hard for me to answer that question because I’ve lived in five or six states and two countries. Wherever my friends are!
Street: What was living all over like?
DD: Looking back, it was a very good experience. I handled it pretty well, I wasn’t super sad every time that we moved. It was nice to see so many different perspectives and just learn a lot from different people. It was definitely hard at times, like, I used to live in Japan so when I moved back to America I was not a happy child because I had gotten used to living in a completely different culture. All my memories were in that country not this country, so that felt like home and this felt like a new place. I think the one good thing is that I have lived in a lot of big cities, and now going into living on my own after college, I know where I would want and not want to live, so I think it was a good experience.
Street: What is your favorite experience at Penn?
DD: I’m honestly going to have to say Mock Trial. I don’t think I would know nearly as many people as I do now. Also, it taught me a lot. I was never a competitive person growing up, I wasn’t a sports person—I wasn’t great at sports—and the other clubs I did weren’t competitive like that. So it added that sort of nature to myself that I did not have. Also, it is definitely where I found my best friends.
Street: What values drive you? How did you discover those values?
DD: Loyalty drives a lot of what I do. When I am just with my friends, it’s important to be very loyal to the people who have always been there for you. It adds a lot to different relationships because it makes them a lot deeper and makes me and my friends a lot happier overall. I feel like whichever [values] I say will be cliché. I have to say trust, too—that is a big one and also a hard one. With regard to friendships and relationships that once you get to a certain point you can trust them no matter what.
Street: What do you want to do post–grad?
DD: [Laughs] That is a great question. There are a lot of different things, like Teach for America. My mom says to go travel while I still have the time and won’t be tired, but to visit not a big city but somewhere interesting and cool. Even though I like to have things very planned and figured out, I feel like I need to sometimes stray away from having it all figured out, so I'm kind of trying to take it one day at a time. And, I am going to go to law school but that will be in two years.
Street: Where is your favorite place on campus?
DD: This is weird, but I would definitely say in the Towne Building in Engineering. It’s super cozy and there aren’t that many people there.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn.
DD: The ones that follow the Penn track that they think they have to follow and those that don’t. It’s not a jab at anybody.
Street: Who is your celebrity doppelgänger?
DD: My friends have told me I kinda look like the R&B singer Aaliyah. I don’t really think so.
Street: You just arrived at your five–year college graduation reunion. What would people be most surprised to hear about you?
DD: I’m not going to tell you, because then it won’t be a surprise.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.