Augustine Benjamin

I am a member of the Class of 2021 from the suburbs of Chicago studying Mathematical Biology with a minor in Philosophy.  On campus I am involved with Penn’s Dance Marathon and Social Impact Consulting Group. I also participate in population genetics research.

I remember that one of the most exciting, and also most unnerving, aspects of arriving at Penn was the independence that came with being a college student. Being a part of ISP helped me actively approach my college education so that I could best make use of my newfound academic flexibility.

I believe I benefited most from the discussion-heavy nature of the course. I was not always the most outspoken student, but by participating in these discussions, I learned how to systematically evaluate arguments as well as articulate my own thoughts. What I learned while actively listening to and asking questions of my ISP peers and professors fueled my curiosity and has allowed me to tackle a breadth of subject matter at Penn. Seminar discussions on the nature of Darwin’s scientific disruption, for example, led me to take a Global Seminar on the History and Philosophy of Evolution and ultimately culminated in a trip to the Galápagos Islands. While the bulk of the course material was theoretical, I appreciated the teaching staff’s constant effort to synthesize academic texts with real-world issues. In fact, a lecture addressing the very tangibile West Philadelphia issue of gentrification inspired me to take an Urban Studies course (and BFS seminar) that evaluates the nature of Penn’s relationship with surrounding communities.  In short, beginning my college experience with ISP undoubtedly made me a much more eager and proactive student.

Finally, this would not be an adequate portrayal of ISP if I did not mention that I found some of my closest friends (including all three of my current roommates) through ISP. My friendships with peers and professors (whom I still enjoy getting coffee with occasionally) really made being a part of ISP a worthwhile and cherished experience.