Successful Transition & Empowerment Program (STEP)

Welcome to STEP!

The mission of the Successful Transition and Empowerment Program (STEP) is to prepare students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to succeed socially, academically, and professionally at Wharton and beyond.

This four-year program introduces incoming students to important Wharton and Penn resources, fosters connection and community, and helps members build skills to effectively navigate college, both academically and socially. This critical support of our STEP community starts with pre-orientation programming and continues through each year of academic progression with various offerings, including monthly programming, robust mentoring, and unique internship opportunities. Learn more about how STEP engages, educates, and empowers undergraduates below.


The STEP pre-orientation is intended to help incoming students successfully acclimate to college life and the Wharton environment. Programming introduces first-years to important resources and helps them build skills to effectively navigate Wharton and Penn both academically and socially. Learn more about STEP pre-orientation here.


First-Year Mentorship

New first-year STEP students are connected with upper-level STEP mentors, who serve as an ongoing support system, helping students adjust to college life and build community connections that last throughout the Wharton experience.

Alumni Mentorship

STEP members have opportunity to get matched with a STEP alumnus as early as their first year. The alumni mentors guide their mentees on how to connect their academic journey with their career aspirations. Students get matched with mentors based on their professional interests.


STEP members have access to four years of programming that ranges from professional development workshops to social events. Below are examples of STEP events that STEP has hosted:

Professional Development

  • Résumé workshops
  • Student internship and alumni career panels
  • Business site visits
  • Etiquette dinner
  • Headshots
  • Industry exploration treks to New York City


  • Office hours
  • Study groups


  • Winter formal
  • Family dinners
  • Holiday events
  • Cultural celebrations

Student Leadership Opportunities

STEP’s student leadership board consists of two co-chairs and three committees, all of which play key roles in the development of STEP programming. The three committees are: Academic and Professional Development, Social Programming, and Marketing.

Members of the STEP student leadership board have the opportunity to develop their leadership skills by creating initiatives that further advance STEP’s mission.


Questions can be directed to Teran Tadal, Director of Equity and Inclusion, at

What last year's STEP participants had to say...

“Each day of STEP I saw myself learning more about the resources and the great university I’m a part of. I am grateful for the opportunity to receive mentorship and engage in the universally accepting community that STEP promotes.”

“Deciding to do STEP was one of the best decisions I made this year and I am so grateful to the group of people that put this on.”

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and for all of the people I met. Thank you to the peer mentors, all of the faculty, and staff who have worked to make our experience transitioning to Wharton exciting and empowering.”

How to join STEP

Wharton students who do not join STEP as incoming first-years (see the pre-orientation page), can apply to the program via this application.

Any Wharton student can apply. STEP is targeted to students who are the first in their families to pursue a four-year baccalaureate degree, come from modest financial circumstances, are from rural areas, or are from other historically underrepresented groups.