‘School year’s resolutions’

With a new school year comes a new set of priorities for faculty and students alike.

Student standing next to signs for 2019 and 2020

Resolutions aren’t just for New Year’s.

For anyone whose life is immersed in university culture, it’s the end of August that so often feels like the actual beginning of a new year. And with that fresh start comes a period of reflection, reconsideration, and resolve for growth. That might be a lofty goal to find new funding for a project, or, for a student, a grand push to finally get that A in a subject that’s long been a struggle. 

Here, a collection of Penn faculty and students share some of their goals for the 2019-20 academic year, plus a quote that's keeping them motivated.

Megan Ryerson, associate dean for research at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design

Resolution: In my role as associate dean for research at the Weitzman School, my resolution this year is to outline and publish guidelines for inclusive research practices. It’s time for [the Weitzman School] and the whole Penn community to build on our commitment to diversity and inclusion and to help the entire research community foster diverse research environments. I believe the time is ripe for diversity and inclusion guidelines: Consider that in June of this year, the director of the National Institutes of Health wrote a piece called “Time to End the Manel Tradition,” describing how he will decline to be part of any conference or event that lacks diversity. This year, I will be interviewing other ADRs and administrators at Penn and beyond, focused on diversity and inclusion in research, and compiling a list of best practices for all of us engaged in research. 

Motivational Quote: “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” (G.D Anderson)

Herman Beavers, professor of English and Africana Studies, School of Arts and Sciences


  1. Get more sleep.
  2. Spend less time burning the midnight oil, so that I can achieve No. 1.
  3. Spend less time on campus so the possibility of No. 2 increases and No. 1 becomes my new reality. 

Motivational Quote: “Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.” (Henry James)

Laura Perna,  James S. Riepe Professor, the Graduate School of Education


  1.  Say “yes” to opportunities that align with my scholarly agenda and personal priorities, and say “no” to those that do not.
  2.  Make time for more reading, especially perspectives that are different than mine.
  3.  Look for opportunities to build in attention to health and wellness. Walking meetings, anyone?

Motivational Quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela)

Cam Grey, associate professor of classical studies, School of Arts and Sciences

Resolution: This year is special and different for me, because I’ll be on leave, so I won't be teaching any classes. Instead, I’ll be writing a book about the experience of living with uncertainty. I am jumping-out-of-my-skin excited about this. I’ll also still be living in New College House, and participating fully in its vibrant and multidimensional community culture. And then there’s my family, who are a constant reminder that the most important thing is to share joy with the people you love. So, my resolution is simple, but also complicated: to remember how much fun life is.

Motivational Quote:  I love the movie “Finding Nemo.” I strongly identify with the Australian sharks having their “Mindless Eating Machines Anonymous” meeting, for some reason. But even more so, I find constant inspiration in Ellen DeGeneres’ Dory, the blue-and-yellow fish with short-term memory loss. I can’t help but agree with her when she confidently and hopefully asserts the value of embracing the process: “Just keep swimming.” That’s what I’ll be doing this year: keeping swimming.

Jessa Lingel, assistant professor of communication, Annenberg School for Communication

Resolution: Rejoin a book club. I joined a book club when I first moved to Philadelphia, and I’ve really dropped off in going to meetings.  With the coming academic year, I want to get back on the bibliophile horse. I do a ton of academic reading for my research (and my students’ research!) and it’s really hard to make time for fiction. But I love fiction and the book club gets me reading. It’s a totally non-academic book club, which makes it so much better. We read sci-fi, mysteries, graphic novels, pop books, and acclaimed novels. It’s terrific and I really want to get back into it.  

Motivational Quote: “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)

Ben Laufer, The Wharton School MBA Class of 2020


  1. Focus.
  2. Prioritize a healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically.
  3. Invest in deepening relationships with the incredible people I’m fortunate to be surrounded by.
  4. Learn something new every day.  

Motivational Quote: “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” (Winston Churchill)

Justin Prelogar, Penn Law Class of 2020

Resolution: Be present with others; be a helper; conquer my inbox; laugh a little. I’ve undertaken a number of sizeable projects for my last year of law school, and I want to ensure that I give each of them the time and attention they deserve.
Motivational Quote: Either “I can’t complain unless I’m willing to do something about it,” or “Plan the work; work the plan.”

Sadia Cassim Dhorat, The Wharton School MBA 2020


  1. Allow myself the breathing room to explore interests which I may (or may not) only pursue in career moves two, three, or four (e.g., by taking 1 new class, attending a conference, joining an interest group or activity each quarter).
  2. Deepen my current friendships, whilst actively seeking opportunities to meet new interesting people in meaningful ways (e.g., through conversations on the “#OurWharton podcast,” Small Group Dinners etc.).
  3. Do my first silent retreat!

Motivational Quote: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” (Rumi)

Husnaa Hashim, College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2022

Resolution: My main resolution this school year is to prioritize time management and fully integrate the study skills I learned last year into my life (such as reserving study spaces in Van Pelt, typing handwritten notes, and reinforcing my boundaries around prioritizing academics). It is additionally important to me to make time for those important to me who live off campus, in order to cultivate a healthy school-life balance. 

Motivational Quote: “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” (Audre Lorde)

Melissa Perez, College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2020


  1. Spend more time finding things I enjoy in Philadelphia.
  2. Put myself out there—apply for jobs outside of my comfort zone, try new foods, attend events/activities that I haven’t in the past.
  3. Practice gratitude, especially in bleak situations.

Motivational Quote: “And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell your story?” from “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” in “Hamilton.”

Rachel Kulik, The Wharton School Class of 2021

My Resolution: Drop Google Calendar sometimes and leave space for spontaneity and reflection. Explore new potential career fields and travel opportunities. Go to more Writers House readings, cook with friends, and take more walks. And throughout the year, continue to journal—you never know what you'll learn.
Motivational Quote: “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Gabriella Ravida, Penn Law and School of Social Policy and Practice Class of 2020

Resolution: Immerse myself in the joy of being a student and learn for the sake of learning. This is my final year in school and I want to soak up every ounce of knowledge I can before I start my career. I’m excited to become a lawyer, but I’ll miss the simplicity of learning in a classroom.

Motivational Quote: “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once. But don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have. Because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” (Michelle Obama)

Ben Onukwube, The Wharton School MBA Class of 2020 


  1. Ask for what I want.
  2. Protect my time.
  3. Deepen connections with people who enrich me and challenge me.
  4. Embrace the things that make me the most uncomfortable.

Motivational Quote: “You belong to no one but yourself and you know exactly where you're going.” (“Call the Midwife”)

“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” (Abraham Maslow)

Kate Hagedorn, The Wharton School MBA Class of 2020

Resolution: A few things on my mind for the upcoming school year:

  1. Explore starting a social enterprise.
  2. Try a new sport and/or join a club on an untapped interest.
  3. Give myself free time to relax, see friends, and go running.
  4. Show my classmates parts of Philadelphia that they might not know yet.

Motivational Quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” (Marianne Williamson)

Devika Balachandran, The Wharton School Class of 2020

Resolution: This year, I aim to deepen the relationships I made with my classmates last year, to continue trying to be more concise, and to push myself to master more lifts and skills with CrossFit.

Motivational Quote: “I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.” (Barbara Kingsolver in “The Poisonwood Bible”)