The Hexagon Society: Inspiring Future Quakers

The adage is well known: You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

This is precisely the reason that Penn Engineering's Hexagon Society provides an invaluable service to the School and the University. Sometimes called the "student recruitment arm" of Penn Engineering, members of the 104-year-old Hexagon Society serve as campus tour guides for high school juniors and seniors and their families during the college selection process, providing information and insight into life at Penn to prospective Quakers.

"Hex" members are, quite literally, "the face of Penn Engineering," says Ellen Eckert, associate director of Admissions and Advising at Penn Engineering. They represent the School in often memorable and lasting ways, such as helping to staff Quaker Days, a weekend-long event held for accepted regular-decision students in April. There they share their academic and extracurricular experiences and are available to address questions, the answers to which may be key to a student's decision to choose Penn.

Highly Involved, Outgoing Students

A Penn Engineering senior society, Hexagon was established in 1910 to create unity and social interaction across the engineering majors. It is an association of volunteers, whose members are “tapped,” or identified, by other members, usually in the spring of their junior year. Hexagon’s website states that the Society “seeks highly involved, outgoing students” for membership. They certainly got what they were looking for—and more—with Miranda May and Daniel Langer, co-vice president and president, respectively.

Miranda May (EE’15) exudes contagious enthusiasm for all things Penn and Penn Engineering, and even aspired to become a college tour guide while still in high school. When looking at schools herself, May was aware of the prevailing advice not to base one’s opinion of an institution on the person leading the tour, but she also understands firsthand just how influential a student representative can be.

May and the other Hexagon guides strive to give a balanced, inclusive presentation to which a diverse group of visitors can relate. Penn prospects might easily envision having an engaging and accessible student like May as a classmate or friend once on campus. Also a member of Penn’s Kite and Key Society, she conducts tours of the entire University campus.

May’s keen interest and aptitude in math and the sciences as a high school student in Washington, D.C., earned her early acceptance at Penn, where she is a dual degree candidate in Electrical Engineering at Penn Engineering and in Business at Wharton. She first learned of the Hexagon Society as the only freshman member of the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board (EDAB), in which fellow members mentored and supported her.

This past summer, May interned at Microsoft as a program manager, and found her niche and possible profession in bridging her engineering and people skills. It’s no surprise she’s been invited back.

Hands-on Impact

A self-described “techy kid,” Daniel Langer (CIS’15) knew early on that he would not be following his father’s career path into law or his mother’s into medicine. When he visited the Penn campus during his junior year spring break tour, he was sure it was the place for him the moment he set foot on Locust Walk.

A native of Chicago, Langer was attracted to the “controlled chaos” of the campus and has not once regretted his decision. He has changed his mind about one thing though—after an inspirational survey course in computer and information science, Langer changed his major to Computer Science with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. He is looking forward to entering the startup world, where he can have a hands-on impact on a growing business.

In his junior year, Langer was tapped for the Hexagon Society by a friend. A member of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, he believes that the relationships built in college are of the utmost importance, and was attracted to the idea of meeting a new and diverse group of engineering students. He immediately signed up.

A Unique Presentation

 After shadowing seasoned Hexagon members, new guides usually lead their first tour with a senior, but Langer’s first experience was unexpectedly solo: Penn Engineering had drawn an especially large crowd that day and doubling up wasn’t an option. Tours are generally not scripted; guides create unique presentations shaped by their personal experiences and knowledge of the School. Langer’s love of Penn and his confident, easy-going enjoyment of “showing off” Penn Engineering no doubt made him a natural.

Penn Engineering received close to 8,000 applications for admission to the Class of 2018, a 34 percent increase over the previous year, and it is projected that May and Langer and the 36 other members of the Hexagon Society will have another busy year. If their “Pennthusiasm” and talent for recruiting others can be factored into the metric, Penn Engineering can only continue to grow in popularity and reputation.

View the original article in Penn Engineering magazine "The Hexagon Society" by Patricia Hutchings.

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