Graduating Impact 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017 marked the University of Pennsylvania’s 261st Commencement. While the team at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy must say farewell to another class of remarkable graduates, we recognize that their Commencement is truly the beginning of their journeys as social impact leaders.

We asked three exceptional Penn students, who all worked as research associates at CHIP, to describe the insights and knowledge they’ve gained while working and learning at the Center.

Janice Bonsu

Masters in Public Health (concentration in Global Health), 2017

“At CHIP, I conducted research on community-based health delivery models to produce actionable guidance for funders seeking to aid in global health and development issues. My experience at CHIP really taught me how to critically read and assess reports, analyze and piece information together into a narrative, and then communicate it efficiently to my intended audience. These lessons transcended the work that I did at CHIP to my Penn coursework and will be invaluable in medical school and as I engage patients. Work at CHIP has also reaffirmed my interest in global health, but now I have the added benefit of knowing what to look for when assessing programs. And lastly, as a traditional bench science researcher, CHIP was my first ‘office’ job. I really enjoyed my time getting to know my coworkers and the projects they were working on and often find myself reminiscing about my time at the Center.”

What’s next: Janice is starting medical school this fall at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She hopes to bring the framework of a public health practitioner to her medical education, and expects to do global service trips and to work with community members in free clinics, specifically those that serve the immigrant population in Columbus, Ohio.

Stephanie Virbitsky

Bachelors of Science in Economics (concentrations in Management and Social Impact & Responsibility), 2017

“Though I found many different aspects of my CHIP experience extremely valuable, two in particular have been helpful in my studies and other work/team experiences: project management and communications. The ability to organize, plan, and execute projects on a timeline was a skill I refined while working with CHIP and have been able to leverage not only in academic project teams and a consulting internship, but also in my campus involvements and life. Further, while at CHIP, I was able to immerse myself in various aspects of crafting effective communications strategy (branding, graphic design, writing, social media marketing). Because CHIP allowed me so much autonomy in this area, I am now able to draw up efficient and effective communications strategies for student organization events and consulting clients.”

What’s next: Steph will spend the next three to six months helping to care for her grandfather at home and traveling across the U.S. exploring national parks.  Beyond that, her goals include graduate school for public policy or education management and a career with a company whose mission excites her.

Caitlin Weiss

Bachelor of Arts in Health and Societies (concentration in Public Health, minor in Hispanic Studies), 2016

“Many of the programs and models explored in CHIP’s guidance are multidisciplinary approaches that have achieved impressive results in addressing long-standing problems. Being familiar with these types of innovative and collaborative programs actually led me to my current job with a medical-legal partnership and will undoubtedly be beneficial in my medical career. My time at CHIP also taught me how to think about these different service approaches in terms of their sustainability and social impact.”

What’s next: Caitlin is currently a member of AmeriCorps VISTA, through which she works for Philadelphia Legal Assistance, helping to build the capacity of their medical-legal partnership (a high impact opportunity!) with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Upon finishing her AmeriCorps fellowship in July, she will begin medical school at Thomas Jefferson University.

Given our home at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, the Center for High Impact Philanthropy is uniquely positioned to prepare the next generation of funders, grantmakers, and social impact leaders.  CHIP is home to a multidisciplinary graduate course, insightful internships, practicum placements, and numerous independent study projects.  These opportunities allow our students learn about impact in a real-world context, creating a platform from which they can launch their careers in the field of philanthropy.

We are so proud of these graduates and all their accomplishments!  Although they will be missed, the CHIP team is excited to welcome a large and diverse new class of summer associates, whom we will introduce in a future blog.