Inside my former dorm, at the University of Pennsylvania, is emblazoned a powerful proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a young freshman college student witnessing this grand tribute to the value of community for the first time, I was more puzzled than awed. College, at times, can be a blur, and taking time to ponder the role of community in defining character can be difficult. It wasn’t until my graduation day, as I made a final return to the dorm, that it struck me just how influential this mantra had been in defining my college experience.
Situated in the heart of West-Philadelphia, my collegiate experience was marked by service as much as it was marked by academia. Throughout my four years I tutored and mentored young elementary and high school students. My Fridays were remembered not for the parties I attended, but for the memorable opportunities I had to volunteer at Lea Elementary School. During my final year of college, I opened an SAT tutoring branch in my hometown of Stamford, CT, and tutored several students for free. Almost unwittingly, the philosophy of community and character reinforcing each other had manifested itself in my college experience.