Monthly Archives: January 2013

Human Guinea Pigs Wanted (and Appreciated)

Author: Lynn Carroll, C’93

Has someone you care about been touched by a disease or illness?  Most of us have someone in our lives who has struggled with a serious condition, and we give money when we can, whether to research leukemia or cancer or heart disease.  Some want to help in a more tangible way, but how?

Consider participating in a research study at Penn.  Some studies need healthy “control” subjects as well as individuals who exhibit certain symptoms.  It’s critical to learn all the facts about a study before volunteering, so please do your homework first.  Who knows?  You could contribute to a groundbreaking discovery, like the recent “killer T-cells” story!

Learn more by following these links:

http://www.med.upenn.edu/ohr

http://psychology.sas.upenn.edu/participate

http://www.med.upenn.edu/aging/ParticipateinaStudy.shtml

http://www.med.upenn.edu/csa/volunteer.html

http://www.med.upenn.edu/psych/clinical_research.html#volunteer\

research

 

 

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Lynn Carroll, Research

Service

Author: Patrick Bredehoft

The idea of what is true merit should also be often presented to youth, explained and impressed on their minds, as consisting in an inclination, joined with an ability, to serve mankind, one’s country, friends, and family.

~Benjamin Franklin

BenAs the Director of the Penn Alumni Interview Program, I have the opportunity to work with over 9,000 Penn graduates from all around the world.  I am continually impressed by the multiplicity of reasons that lead people to get involved as alumni volunteers, as well as by the depth of their commitment to the institution.

I’ll start this series by considering the force from which other motivations follow, the idea Ben Franklin referred to as “an inclination…to serve.”

Last night, I spent some time speaking with an interviewer in California who graduated from the College for Women in the mid-1950s.  She was a trail-blazer in her own right: while at Penn, she had to petition to take Engineering and Computer Science courses, since women weren’t typically allowed to take classes in those fields at the time.  In this capacity, she worked on ENIAC, the world’s first electronic general-purpose computer, and then went on to do graduate work at Harvard and MIT.  For the past several decades, she has served as an alumni interviewer, and in that time, she has interviewed hundreds of prospective Penn students, many of them young women interested in the field of computer science. Thousands of hours of her life have been devoted to this voluntary effort, which translates into several waking months of service on Penn’s behalf.  In our conversation last night, there was a phrase she repeated several times, and it stuck with me: “This isn’t about me,” she insisted. “It’s about the students.”

The Interview Program appeals to some volunteers because it affords them the opportunity to “give back”–not monetarily donations, but with hours invested in service to others.  In some cases, this service becomes a passion, and perhaps even part of a life’s work.

The inclination to serve has been a core aspect of the Penn experience, ever since Ben Franklin penned his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania. Franklin didn’t envision the Interview Program in those notes, but I think he would approve of its mission: sharing the experiences of our alumni with prospective students, while allowing those students to more fully represent themselves to Penn. At its root, an inclination toward service may not be teachable, but it can certainly be nurtured, modeled, and facilitated. In so doing, generations of former Penn students are embodying an ideal for generations  to come: learning endows us with certain abilities and a common purpose, made all the more valuable as it is shared with others.

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Filed under Ben Franklin, Campus Life, Interview Program, Patrick B., Volunteering

New Perspective

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

For the past 18 months, I have walked to work from West Philly, entering campus on Woodland Walk.  This is where the School of Veterinary Medicine sits with the beautiful water fountain out front and the amazing image by Eadweard Muybridge in the lobby.

Vernon and Shirley Hill PavilionEadweard Muybridge

My daily route takes me by the Hamilton Walkway entrance and continues down Woodland Walk by The Quad.

Hamilton Walkway Entrance

The Quad

Finally, I make my way across Spruce Street, passing by the Class of 1956 Trolley, behind what is soon to be the Wistar Institute, then by the LOVE sculpture on College Green to Sweeten Alumni House.

Class of '56 Trolley Car

LOVE

Sweeten Alumni House

Starting next week, this will change as I am moving to a new location.  My entry point to Penn’s campus will shift to the South East side and I will walk by the Penn Museum, Franklin Field, and Irvine Auditorium.

Penn Museum

Franklin Field

Shelter from the Storm, Franklin Field
Photo by Steve Minicola, University Communications

Irvine Auditorium, Interior (number 8)

2012 Day in the Life of PennPhotograph by Steven Minicola

Irvine Auditorium, Exterior
2012 Day in the Life of Penn
Photograph by Steven Minicola

Although I have become familiar and comfortable with my walk from West Philly, I’m excited to see what new things I can learn about campus now that I will have this different perspective.

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Weekend Snow

Author: Sabrina Shyn, C’13

A shoe print remnant of the weekend snow on Locust Walk…

SONY DSC

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Filed under Sabrina Shyn, Student Perspective

Happy 307th Birthday Ben Franklin!

Ben Franklin

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

Every year, Penn Alumni clubs around the world gather to celebrate Penn’s founder, Ben Franklin. Many clubs celebrate on Ben’s birthday, January 17th, but others celebrate throughout the month of January.

The Penn Alumni Regional Clubs website lists all of these celebrations. There is still time to raise a toast to Ben in Baltimore (Jan. 31st), Seattle (Jan. 27th) and Westchester and Rockland Counties, NY (Jan. 31st).

The Penn Club of Portland (Oregon) gathered on January 17th to raise a toast. Here’s how they notified members:

Benjamin Franklin visited Ireland in 1771 and was invited to sit with the members of the Irish Parliament rather than in the gallery with other visitors. He was the first American to be given this honor. While touring Ireland, he was moved by the level of poverty he observed. Since Ireland’s economy was governed by the same trade regulations and laws of Britain that governed America, Franklin feared that America could suffer the same effects should Britain’s colonial rule continue. So, we are honoring this event on Benjamin Franklin’s 307th birthday on Thursday, January 17th, at where else?

Kells Irish Brew Pub

210 NW 21st Avenue

Portland

Join in celebrating Ben Franklin’s 307th birthday with Penn alums and friends. Beer lovers have long claimed that Franklin’s love of beer led him to say: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Wine lovers and Walter Isaacson know that the actual quote was: “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” The good news is that both will be available (along with a happy-hour menu until 6:30pm) to continue the proof.

Look for friends, smiling faces and/or small Penn flag.

RSVPs, while not required, are always appreciated.

Club president John Vosmek, C’61, said, “We never had more than 10 at one time – people came and went, but it was all fun.”

Here’s a toast to dear old Ben!

The Penn Club of Portland celebrates Ben Franklin on January 17, 2013.

The Penn Club of Portland celebrates Ben Franklin on January 17, 2013.

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Ben Franklin, Clubs, Events, GAN, Historical, Kiera R., Penn Clubs, West Coast Regional Office

Locust Walk Talk: Martin Luther King Day

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

The first national King holiday was observed in 1986, eighteen years after Dr. King’s death.  By 1988, Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry Harris Wofford, and his executive assistant, Todd Bernstein realized in the two years since the national observance started, it was becoming for millions just another day off. To address the lack of commitment and understanding of Dr. Kings lifetime of service to others, these two men decided to organize a day of service- a day with the theme, “A Day On not A Day Off.”

Dr. King, delivering his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

At Penn, the African American Resource Center (AARC) hosts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium for Social Change. Starting on January 12 and extending through February 1, there are presentations, discussions, service events and more scheduled for the Penn community.

Two highlights of the Symposium were 12th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture in Social Justice and Monday’s Day of Service.

John Legend, C ’99, (né Stephens) returned to Penn to give the Lecture in Social Justice at Irvine Auditorium as part of the University’s annual MKL commemorations on January 16. Joining him was Camille Charles, director of the Center for Africana Studies and professor of sociology at Penn.

Charles opened the conversation by asking Legend to recall his journey to Penn. He spoke about his early childhood in Springfield, OH, his travels to Penn and going to college at the precocious age of 16. He shared a humorous anecdote about whether he would finish his last year at Penn or join to Lauryn Hill’s tour – Lauryn chose someone else to play piano and he finished Penn.  This story highlighted the difficult journey of breaking into the music business.

Legend also shared accounts of launching the Show Me Campaign which works to end the cycle of poverty in the United States and around the world. Impressively, he also sits on the boards of the Education Equality Project, Teach for America and the Harlem Village Academics.

All photos by Steve Mincola.

John Legend (Photos by Steve Mincola.)

On Monday’s Day of Service, there were several community events:

  • Children’s Banner Painting: to paint commemorative posters and banners while listening to stories and songs about Dr. King’s life.
  • Helping Hands at Houston Hall: to create personal gifts that will be donated to West Philadelphia area shelters, homes, hospitals and charities.
  • MLK Mentoring Project: to mentor students from the Upward Bound Program, featuring volunteers from the Penn chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, BGAPSA, and interns from the Christian Association.
  • Philadelphia Reads: Literacy Project: to create books on tape to promote literacy for Philadelphia youth.
  • Community Beautification Projects: to clean, paint and organize at Martha Washington Elementary School, Sayer High School, Sayre Recreation Center, and the Community Education Center in West Philadelphia.

Though Dr. King’s birthday was January 15, there is over a week of MLK Symposium for Social Change events which are open to the Penn community should you find yourself on campus.  For more information, you can visit the AARC’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium for Social Change calendar.

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Filed under Campus Life, Casey R., Locust Walk Talk

Penn’s Innovations in Leadership Workshop Series

Author: Molly Rand, GED’13

Sitting in class for 16 hours over the course of two days is not typically considered an ideal learning situation. The classes are long, the lectures are boring, and the group work is exhausting. Your attention span can only last for so long before you start counting down the hours on your hand – and the result of that calculation is always less than desirable. However, I know from experience that this doesn’t always have to be the case.

As a part time student in Penn’s Graduate School of Education, I enrolled in the Nonprofit Leadership Workshop series for the second consecutive spring semester to complete my elective requirements for the Higher Education Master’s program. The course, which is offered by the School of Social Policy and Practice, is compiled of 3 two-day workshops. If you do the math, the total comes out to about 38 hours in 6 days after subtracting a few hours for lunch and quick breaks. A student would actually spend close to 8 less hours in class during a full semester-long course. So why would this marathon of a course be something I choose to take not only once, but twice in the ten classes required to complete my Master’s program? There are so many reasons…

Senior Associate Director of the MS in Nonprofit Leadership Program, Eric Ashton outlines it clearly in the course syllabus. There are multiple areas within the nonprofit space that viable leaders may wish to have some level of exposure to over the course of their professional careers and career development.   As the overall course instructor, Ashton speaks more on the fact that often in our busy lives we do not get educational opportunities on a range of current or innovative topics.  This course was created and designed to allow students to select from a changing menu, subject matter that will be presented in small bite size opportunities to be exposed to current trends or topics important for strategic thinking in positions of leadership and decision making.  Each topic is presented in a seminar style workshop led by an instructor who is an expert in that area.

The School of Social Policy & Practice is located in the Caster Building. The Caster Building is where all NPLD workshops take place this semester.

The School of Social Policy & Practice is located in the Caster Building. The Caster Building is where all NPLD workshops take place this semester.

Interested in the socioeconomic development of urban areas? Let George Washington University’s Associate Professor of History Chris Klemek take you on a two-day field trip of our historical city in his workshop Philadelphia as Crucible: 400 years of crisis, leadership & change. I participated in the hands-on workshop during a weekend last April and can say that I now know the historical significance of that grid like courtyard on 2nd street between Walnut and Chestnut next to the Ritz movie theatre.  It actually has a name too!

Welcome Park

Philadelphia’s Welcome Park

Think it might be valuable to learn more about negotiation and strategic persuasion and ways to improve your own skills? Take a two-day workshop with consultants from the Center for Advanced Research (CFAR), a management consulting firm specializing in strategy and organizational development. www.cfar.com/. Some of the breakout exercises in this workshop resembled what might occur during an episode of Antique Road Show while others were more geared towards students honing in on their own business negotiating skills. During an in-class persuasion exercise, I was able to persuade my classmate that an incredibly valuable book my hypothetical great aunt once owned was an original, only copy left edition worth $7,500. The information sheet that I was given about the item, which my partner was unable to see, exposed the worth of the book to be at an absolute best $1,500. When we announced to the class how much we had “sold” the book to our partner, and mine had gone for the highest amount, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. Either I am an incredibly convincing persuader or she was just a gullible classmate who didn’t really care about the value of some made up piece of literature. Either way, I learned a lot those two days.

My first of three workshops this semester just concluded this past weekend. The class was titled Social Entrepreneurship and was taught by Associate Director of Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs and Director of Wharton’s Societal Wealth Program, James Thompson. Professor Thompson’s Wharton-wit, intriguing South African accent, and Ed Harris-meets-Daniel Craig looks only add to the workshops interesting content and structure. http://www.whartoncapetown08.com/bio-thompson.html.  I never thought that when I began my graduate program, I would be discussing how to create a successful consumption chain for raising and selling chickens as an entrepreneurial venture in Zambia. In the words of Professor Thompson, “think big, start small, and change fast.” This is a concept that will stay with me forever.

SP2_class

Some of my classmates during the Social Entrepreneurship Workshop last week

There is no question that this course is unique. One might argue that these workshops are not directly applicable to the work I currently do in Alumni Relations. I would disagree. The way these classes encourage and challenge my way of thinking is the most valuable component of this “leadership series.” I meet people from other schools and walks of life – undergraduates, MSW students, second-year MBAs, nonprofit professionals, and professors who are absolute experts in their fields. I walk away from these two-day “crash courses” and realize how fortunate I am to be exposed to such new and exciting disciplines. I am inspired to be innovative and learn more about my own personal skills. Most importantly, I’m not ready to stop learning and these workshops allow me to continue in an unconventional and engaging way.

Being submersed in these educational environments for six full days is a brain exercise unlike any other. For those few days, I am working to be an expert on urban development, or strategic negotiation, or the necessary way of thinking to differentiate myself from competition and succeed as a social entrepreneur. For six days during the semester, I am part of an exclusive group of individuals all working together to learn something new, challenging one another along the way. This is one of the many reasons I love being a graduate student and employee at Penn.

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Filed under Molly Rand, Philadelphia, Student Perspective