Lauren Gibli, W’13, expected to learn about business when she chose to attend Wharton, but she found the experience so much more enriching than anticipated.

“At Wharton, I discovered that there is a lot more innovation and creativity in business than I had initially anticipated. Through hands-on learning in the classroom and through extracurricular activities like consulting at the Wharton Small Business Develepment Center, I engaged in an exciting, multifaceted, at-times chaotic learning experience,” she says.

Gibli attended a high school in Hackensack, NJ, that specializes in business and finance and always knew she wanted to focus on that. Her mother’s startup cosmetics packaging company, where she worked during three summers, has also influenced her path. Through four years at Wharton, she discovered her passions for marketing and operations.

During her time at Wharton, Gibli became involved in Wharton Women, “a real powerhouse organization” with about 1,200 members. She became one of the organizers of the group’s business conference, during which she communicated with senior-level executives of Fortune 500 companies.

“With the Wharton name in the subject line, they opened your email. I would never think that, but they are excited to be a part of our learning experience,” she says.

She eventually was elected president of Wharton Women.

Gibli was also honored with the Herbert S. Steurer Memorial Prize and the Beverly Vivrany Prize for her community service and leadership, among other awards.

The big intangible takeaway from Wharton for her is the real sense of community created by the multitude of groups and organizations on campus.

“I don’t think I expected to feel such ownership of the School. Just talking to people on campus, they feel that ownership too,” Gibli says. “I’m grateful it allowed me to find my passions that I didn’t know I had coming into college.”

Before starting a full-time position in September working on digital strategy in the commerce and innovation group at American Express Co., Gibli will explore a passion for travel. She is venturing off on a two-and-a-half month tour of East Asia with some of her sisters from Chi Omega.

—By Anne Freedman

Editor’s note: Read more about Wharton’s Class of 2013 and five other individual class leaders in our cover article, “Diverse, Resilient, Ready: The Class of 2013.”