Student-Athlete Spotlight

Simone Unwalla, C'19 - Women's Fencing

1. Name: Simone Unwalla

2. Class Year: 2019

3. Sport: Women's Fencing

4. Position: Foil

5. Why did you choose Penn?

During my college search, Penn stood out to me because it offered the most well-rounded experience to its student athletes.  I wanted a university that had an elite fencing program and the best academics possible, but still maintained a lively atmosphere apart from those two things.  Penn offered that to me.  Even with a nationally competitive fencing program and globally renowned academics, Penn is still a fun place to be and that is something I sincerely value.  It it was my goal to find a balance and I found that at Penn.

6. What does the experience of being a Penn Fencing student-athlete mean to you?

A lot.  To me, being a Penn Fencing student-athlete means working hard with the people around you to produce something great.  Whether that is on the strip competing or in the library studying together for finals, we work together and help each other succeed.

7. What would you say to the donors who invest in your experience as a Fencing student-athlete? 

First of all, I would say thank you.  Without our donors, maintaining athletic programs at Penn would be nearly impossible especially with a sport like fencing that is less mainstream and requires high-tech equipment.  Our fencing gym is one of the best in the country and truly makes a difference in our performance.  The donors who have invested in Penn Fencing have given us the opportunity to be the highly-competitive team we are and it means the absolute world to our program.

8. What has been your favorite moment/memory with Penn Fencing?

My favorite #Penncing moment was at the Ivy Championships last year when I scored the winning touch to beat Harvard.  We hadn’t beaten them in a few years and it was such an amazing moment for our women’s team because each squad really pulled their weight to come together and win it.  Beating Harvard was a big step forward last year and it’s something we hope to build on as we approach Ivy’s again this February. 

9. What does life after Penn look like?

After I graduate in 2019, I am hoping to attend law school.  I’m not sure exactly where I will end up after that, but I’m definitely interested in criminal law and working in public service.

10. What are some lessons that you have learned through athletics at Penn that will stay with you after graduation?

Penn has taught me more lessons than I can list, but one important one has been determination.  Through my experience as a student-athlete, it has become clear to me that you can accomplish pretty much anything you want to as long as you commit to it and put in the work to do it.  Someone out there has to be the one to do that thing that you want to do, and Penn has shown me that if you put your mind to it and truly work at it, that person can be you.