During this academic year’s convocation, which welcomed the Class of 2023, Provost Wendell Pritchett urged Penn’s newest students to be “fearless” when “confronting the unknown” of their coming years on campus.
Speak out on beliefs, he said, and don’t be scared to make difficult decisions—for sometimes they’re the most rewarding. Important, too: To always listen to and learn from each other.
It is undoubtedly interesting for these students—as well as the rest of the Penn community—to now reflect on Pritchett’s words, not even a year later, during surely one of the most unexpected and uncertain times of their lives.
But as we all continue to press forward in such extraordinary circumstances, it is still worth remembering a year full of growth. The same year where we’ve been met with such adversity, we have seen the first baby born via uterus transplant at Penn. Our students have not only broken athletics records, but also, along with faculty, won numerous prizes for their commitment—and breakthroughs—to better the world. We’ve pivoted the way we teach and learn to fit today’s demands, and taken on a deadly global virus on the frontlines, all while showing up to fight against racial injustice.
A year of growth, indeed, doesn’t mean our work is over. It is still just beginning. Speaking out, making tough decisions, and always listening—and learning—is the only way to grow.