Recent Alums Reflect on Staying in the City for College

When Friends Select alums Olivia Chiaravalli ’18, Grant Pavol ’18, and Philip Sieg ‘18 were making their final college decisions, a couple of important factors came into play. In addition to attending schools that would allow them to follow their academic and extracurricular passions, they wanted to stay in Philadelphia, the city they grew up in and continue to love. 

Philip is majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics (MEAM) at the University of Pennsylvania. He said, “I think Philly is a great place for young people because it is reasonably affordable, very relaxed, and there are lots of fun things to do. Being across the river from my family, I really do feel like I am in my own place and I have never felt too close to home.” 

Olivia, who attends Temple University, also enjoys being close to family. She said, “I am very close with my family and knew that being near them was something that was important to me. Secondly, I think this city is filled with possibilities. When we did our senior internships, I began to see how much this city has to offer.” 

She added, “I’ve come to realize that when you are in a city, there is culture all around you and being surrounded by people who are from different backgrounds is something that is very valuable. When you are in the city, you are witness to real world problems and I believe that when you are met with those problems face to face, you are inspired to learn about them and become more aware of your own privilege.”

For Grant, a musician and student at the University of Pennsylvania, staying in Philadelphia was about loving Penn and his strong desire to stay closely connected to the city’s music scene. He said, “I didn’t want to leave all of my collaborators and connections behind. Plus, I just love living in the city in general. There's always something to do and things to see.” 

The city often provides the best classroom. Philip noted, “As an engineer, the best parts of classes are applications of what you are learning. Cities provide perfect opportunities for teachers to show and take students to places where what they are learning is being applied in interesting and unique ways.”

All three alums credit their Friends Select experiences with helping to prepare them to continue taking advantage of city-based educational opportunities. “The fact that Friends Select is so directly in the heart of the city means that I really got to know and love Philly on a deeper level,” said Grant. 

“Friends Select prepared me to seek out people around me who do what I am interested in and learn from them,” Philip said. “Sometimes you need to see things in action and being done in a professional setting to truly understand them.”  

Olivia wholeheartedly agrees with her former classmates. “Attending Friends Select was an eye-opening experience that I never fully realized until I left,” she said. “It taught me how to interact with people who are different from me, and how to celebrate and learn from those differences rather than try to overlook them. It has made me aware of the injustices around us and motivated me to learn more about them.”