Gratitude is the attitude at Wharton

Gratitude@Wharton, a student-created platform, is building a caring culture at Penn.

screenshot of virtual event.
Gratitude@Wharton, a platform for students to express gratitude towards one another in order to create a more caring culture at Wharton. (Image: The Wharton School)

Gratitude@Wharton is a platform for students to express thanks and appreciation toward one another in order to create a more caring culture at the Wharton School and increase happiness and general well-being.

Wharton senior Louisa Cacchione came up with the idea and was one of the two recipients of the Wharton Dolphin Tank last year.

The platform consists of an online submission form where students can express their gratitude for another member of the Wharton community and let them know that they are appreciated.

Participants can use the form to send a short message of appreciation to a fellow student, professor, administrator, or staff member. Upon submission, the gratitude message will be delivered to the inbox of the intended recipient and can remain anonymous, if desired.

Messages submitted through the form also have the option to be shared publicly with the Wharton community. With permission, the message will be displayed on LCD screens in Wharton buildings or included in student life newsletters. If the message was expressed anonymously, it will remain this way when shared with the community.

“The creation of this initiative enabled me to draw on my own struggles with mental well-being throughout the past few years in order to generate a platform that will encourage members of the Wharton community to take time to engage in the practice of expressing gratitude, a tool which I have found invaluable in helping me regain a more positive outlook on my life and hope for the future,” says Cacchione. “My hope is for this initiative to create a gratitude movement at Wharton and beyond.”

The initiative started in the middle of the fall semester and will be ongoing. Wharton Wellness, an undergraduate student club, is overseeing the initiative. Lee Kramer, director of Wharton Student Life, says Wharton Wellness is excited to launch the new initiative aimed at building a culture of expressing gratitude within the Wharton community.

“We are so grateful for Louisa for coming up with this initiative and for Wharton Wellness for implementing the program,” he says. “Expressing appreciation for one another is so important these days and this student-initiated platform provides a meaningful way for everyone within Wharton to show their gratitude towards one another which in turn can help to promote an even more caring and inclusive community.”

Cacchione from Charlotte, North Carolina, talks with Penn Today about her new platform.

What is Gratitude@Wharton and how does it work?

Gratitude@Wharton consists of an online form where students, professors, administrators, and other staff members can submit shorts notes of appreciation for other members of the Wharton community, which are then delivered to the inbox of the intended individual. The form, which is housed on Qualtrics, was designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible, lowering any potential logistical barriers to participation. To submit a message, members of the Wharton community simply complete the form by providing the name and email address for the individual they are expressing gratitude for and writing a few sentences which briefly explain their gratitude for that individual. The form has the option to be submitted anonymously, and before submissions, users can also indicate whether their message can be shared with the entire Wharton community.

Beginning in the spring semester these messages will be shared in person, on LCD screens in Wharton buildings, as well as virtually, in student life newsletters, to further cultivate a culture of expressing gratitude at Wharton.

With so many platforms out there, for various types of connections, what makes this one different?

What I believe sets Gratitude@Wharton apart from other digital platforms for building connections is its unique ability to positively benefit both the creator of the content and its recipient. By taking time to complete the form, every individual who writes a gratitude message experiences the benefits of engaging with this practice, such as feeling more positive emotions and building resilience. Those who are on the receiving end of the surprise gratitude messages in their inbox similarly experience positive emotions and boosted moods.

Another distinct feature of Gratitude@Wharton is the platform’s ability to create a positive chain reaction. At the end of each message delivered to an individual’s inbox is a link to the original form, encouraging them to continue to help build a culture of gratitude at Wharton by submitting their own message. From the initial submissions of the form thus far we have been able to observe how many recipients receiving gratitude messages than access the form to send their own.

How can others besides students, such as professors, staff, clubs, and fraternities/sororities, benefit from Gratitude@Wharton?

The idea behind Gratitude@Wharton is to build a culture of expressing gratitude at Wharton through encouraging all members of the community to set aside just a few minutes of their day to send a message of appreciation to another individual. However, this culture can also be fostered on a much smaller scale, such as within student clubs and organizations. The Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board, an organization of which I am a part, used Gratitude@Wharton in the fall semester to begin weekly meetings. Before diving into the afternoon’s agenda, each member of the group would name someone in the community they felt grateful for that day, then take 2-3 minutes to submit a short message for that individual on the form. Besides helping to build a culture of gratitude at this micro level within the organization, engaging with the platform enabled members to individually reap the benefits of expressing gratitude, such as experiencing more positive emotions and improving their self-esteem.

Why did you decide to create Gratitude@Wharton?

My inspiration for the Gratitude@Wharton initiative came from my own struggles with mental health during my undergraduate career as well as my personal experience of the benefits from engaging with this practice. Over the years I have tried many exercises and activities aimed at improving my mental well-being. However, it was not until the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester that I began to intentionally practice expressing gratitude, and it did not take long at all before I experienced its benefits. By setting aside time to reflect on what I appreciated in my life, as well as leveraging the practice as a coping strategy for especially difficult days, I began to see how expressing gratitude improved my mood, boosted my self-esteem, strengthened my relationships, bolstered my resilience, and made my general outlook on life a whole lot more positive.

When I heard about the Wharton Dolphin Tank competition last spring [April 2021], I thought it was the perfect opportunity to pitch an initiative that would enable the entire Wharton community to experience the same benefits I had experienced from engaging with this practice.

How can the platform support student goals?

Wharton students are highly motivated, and often come into the school having already set large goals surrounding their education and career. And while these goals are beneficial in directing their future endeavors, they can sometimes place undue pressure on students to perform at an extremely high level. Gratitude@Wharton looks to encourage students to engage with the practice of expressing gratitude in the hopes that they can experience its associated benefits, such as improved mood and increased resilience, as they pursue their personal ambitions and navigate the stressors of college.

What are you grateful for?

I am extremely grateful for the support and assistance of the Undergraduate Executive Board, Undergraduate Division, and Wharton Wellness, without whom this initiative would not be possible. Additionally, I would like to thank my parents for their continuous love and support throughout my time at Wharton.

For more information on the platform, email