Category Archives: Campus Life

A Hidden Gem on Penn’s Campus: Neighborhood Bike Works

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By: Amanda Hemmer, D’09

While attending Penn Dental, I would often buy lunch from Rami’s food truck on 40th Street, and enjoy my falafel on a bench lining Locust Walk in front of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. It has been five years since I graduated dental school and coincidentally, I have returned to Locust Walk and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. However, things have changed, Rami’s has been replaced with the Marrakesh Express, and I no longer stay on a bench outside, I actually go into the Church, and downstairs to an organization called Neighborhood Bike Works.

nbw6I learned about this organization through my husband, who became involved with the non-profit after participating in an Adult Repair Co-op at Neighborhood Bike Works called Bike Church. The more we learned about Neighborhood Bike Works, the more we grew to admire this hidden gem on Penn’s campus. The mission of Neighborhood Bike Works is to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia through bicycling.

The flagship program of Neighborhood Bike Works is called Earn-A-Bike in which youth learn the basics of bike repair and maintenance, safe urban riding, and health and nutrition while refurbishing a donated bike. Students earn the very bikes they learn to repair by participating in the classes. Many of the graduates of the 15 session course continue to work in the shop and earn hours they can trade for more bikes, parts, and accessories, as well as participate in many other more advanced programs such as Race Team, Leadership and Advanced Mechanics Courses, and Ride Club. These programs are free to the participants, ages 8-18.

Neighborhood Bike Works also has a lot to offer the general public as well; they have a shop in the basement of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church where you can stop in and purchase a used bicycle, or get parts, repairs, and maintenance for a bike you already own. They also offer adult repair classes and community outreach events.

This past summer, my husband and I spent four days with Neighborhood Bike Works youth, volunteers, and staff on a four day bike ride called the Ride of Dreams. It is part fundraiser, part youth initiative and entirely a lot of fun. We started our journey at the Church on Penn’s campus and rode to Hershey and back for a total of 250 miles. It was a wonderful experience getting to know the youth and volunteers along the scenic Pennsylvania countryside.

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Neighborhood Bike Works is currently looking for more volunteers, staff and even new board members. If you are interested in becoming involved in this amazing organization that is improving the community around UPenn and impacting urban youth, please contact:

Carol Borek at

carol@neighborhoodbikeworks.org

http://www.neighborhoodbikeworks.org/

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life

New Beginnings

Hey guys! My name is Kaila Brown and I am the new Graduate Assistant for the Penn Alumni Office. Words cannot express how excited I am for this new opportunity!

Penn Alumni Grad Assistant

Kaila Brown, GEd’15

I made the great move from Atlanta to Philadelphia, roughly a week ago and ever since then every day has been filled with Philly adventures and new beginnings. Orientation for the Graduate School of Education began bright and early Monday morning. It was truly exciting and inspiring to sit in the ballroom surrounded by some of the brightest minds pursing their love for various aspects of education. There are, both, international and domestic students of all races and backgrounds, and it will be such a pleasure to have these diverse opinions and thought processes shape class discussions. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending my specific program’s orientation where I was able to meet my fellow cohort and some of the faculty. I will be earning my Masters in Higher Education. Even though I only spent a few hours with my cohort I already know this is going to be an insightful year learning from a range of students who all bring something different to the table. Every person I met matched my excitement about the quick year ahead! I begin classes tomorrow and can’t wait to learn from some of the leading lights in the field of Higher Ed.

While I know that it will be challenging, I am so thrilled for this next year and can’t wait to see all that it has to offer!

 

Graduate School of Education

Graduate School of Education

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Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Student Perspective, Sweeten Alumni House

What do you consider Penn Today?

By: Noelle McManus, C’17

What do you consider Penn Today? For me, it’s everything I see and do on campus. I’m up to date on most of the things that happen on campus. I check the Penn social media and I always read the e-mails they send. I am working diligently on learning more and more about everything at Penn. This is the exact reason why I was so intent on perfecting the meaning behind ‘Penn Today’.

Working for the Alumni Interview Program has been such a wonderful experience. They also see the importance of what ‘Penn Today’ is. Our interviewers are alumni from all over the world, young and old, alike. This idea of ‘Penn Today’ would benefit anyone from prospective student to our oldest alumnus. It could be a place that houses everything that exists at Penn, today!

Currently, a place like this exists only in a small scale. It has been my job for the summer to create my own version of ‘Penn Today’. The ins and outs of the academics, activities, resources, and most important news, all gathered together in one place. This is the place to be for anyone looking to enlighten themselves on what life is like at Penn in 2014. I have been working hard to gather the information for this hub and to present the information in an intriguing way. With feedback from those around me, I hope to provide a meaning to what ‘Penn Today’ really is!

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My 25 Year Penn Reunion: Living an “As Is” life in a world that only wants “So Perfect!”

Author:  Lisa Niver Rajna, C’89

Wandering on Madison Ave in Manhattan last week, I noticed paparazzi everywhere. After asking, a woman told us, with tears in her eyes, that JLo was eating lunch. I would have missed her. She did not look “So Perfect” but she is stunning. As I left New York City for Philadelphia for my twenty-five year college reunion, I have been thinking about what have I done and what do I want for the next twenty-five years!

In a life filled with product placement where JLo is lifting her Coca-Cola glass so many times per hour on American Idol, our lives have been given a structure that we might not purchase if it were not so insidious.

In As Is by Rachel Michael Arends, the story is told through several narrators and Arends is able to share deep perspectives about how people with different lifestyles lock themselves into their own cage about money, sexuality, and professions of what they think that want and should own and should do.

Through Arends’ intriguing characters, we are able to wonder and wander. Is it a good choice to be an artist? Is it okay to defer your dream to care for your father? Most of the interactions and characters would have accepted the decisions of their friend or family member if they had only been told. Fear made nearly every character in this book withhold their personal truth.

Hiding themselves made them seem like a cheap imitation of what they could have brought to the table. Choosing to be courageous and wish for what they really wanted and reach out to receive it often only comes after tragedy and hardship but hopefully Rachel Michael Arends’ novel gives you the hope to share your story and live a life painted fully without regrets.

Early in the novel, Gwendolyn says: “On television it can look glamorous, and perhaps some people would love this lifestyle. But I don’t,” I wondered what didn’t she like? And who was she really?

Wandering the parade and picnic at the University of Pennsylvania, I thought what would life be like if we did not pretend. Gwendolyn believes that Armand “actually enjoys being So Perfect all the time,” it gave me pause to think about who do I know who resembles that remark and do they feel like Gwendolyn that “it just seems wrong, incongruous, and unnatural,” and more of a cage than a life.

There were many buttons to wear at Reunion: “I met my wife at Penn,” “<3 Penn,” and “Don’t worry, I don’t remember you either!” Maybe several alums felt like Gwendolyn: “I find it scary and unnerving when strangers approach me as if we’re old friends. I don’t like to worry about what I wear, if my hair and makeup look good enough (according to Armand they never do), what I say, or how I say it. I prefer to stay at home behind our high fences, inside our security system.”

w/ Joyce Lim Twomey

w/ Joyce Lim Twomey

 

She has been told by Trey, her producer, “I’m lucky to have this job, that anyone in her right mind would want it.” At an Ivy League institution, in marriage or in many other settings, we are sold that line about being lucky. I went to medical school because I was smart in science. Like Gwendolyn I felt, “I don’t want to let anyone down…[but] I’m beginning to fear that I’ll be trapped in this mansion forever.” We sometimes become embroiled in a labyrinth or career and we seem to be stuck. Breaking out of the mold and consciously taking a different path can be a struggle but isn’t the freedom, to be who we really are, worth it?

When we become lost from our selves, we often need someone like Gwendolyn’s sister, Megan, to ask us: “What’s your plan? Are you going back there?” We all want to have someone in our life that we can tell as Gwendolyn does, “You’re like an island of sanity in the craziest day I’ve ever had.” It is possible we have those people already if we would only be honest with them about how we feel and what we need. Most of us keep our wounds and concerns a secret only sharing what we think looks “So Perfect” to the constant measuring up on Instagram and Pinterest.

When one character with a cane walks on a floor above Gwendolyn with a sliding sound, she muses, “It’s strange to think of carrying your damage on the outside where everyone can see it.” What if we shared our fears and foibles on Facebook and not just our fairytales that come true? Carrie, a character who is a fan of Gwendolyn on television but becomes a true friend in the story, shares, “The biggest thing I’ve learned over the course of this year is that life is one big surprise after another, and maybe I should loosen up and try my best to roll with it.” As I walked the parade on Saturday standing in between the two wonderful women who were my college roommates, I realized that I am so lucky in both an “as is” and “so perfect” way to have walked this road surrounded by people who know what I look life in real life and want to be friends anyway! Whether there are tears of joy or sadness, they have always run to my side, whenever I am ready to share this rollercoaster of life.

Arends’ character, Armand, realizes that “As Is,” could be his “motto for acceptance. Not an excuse to settle necessarily, but a reminder that at a certain point, you just need to say, OK, enough is enough! I’m sick of chasing the dream of perfection and that’s not a failure.”

Gwendolyn does believe in fate, as she says, “You have to. I just saw a falling star out the window and I wished for you. When I looked up, there you were!” In some ways like the movies, we want to say, “I wished for you” and for the person to appear. What if you are really wishing for yourself to stand up, take up space and live your dreams? I wish for you that you are inspired to pause and think about your own parade and find a path that leads you to yourself and the fulfillment of your best dreams.

w/Barbara Yorke

w/Barbara Yorke

About the Author: Lisa Niver Rajna (CAS 1989) was honored to walk in graduation on May 19, 2014 with her classmates from twenty-five years ago! Learn more about her journeys at WeSaidGoTravel.com and ScienceisntScary.net.

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Commencement, Lisa N.R., Memories of Penn, Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Park, Reunions, Traditions

Congratulations to the Class of 2014

Author: Janell Wiseley

 

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Alumnni Education, Campus Life, Commencement, Janell W., Leaving Penn, Locust Walk Talk, Memories of Penn, Reunions, Sweeten Alumni House, Traditions, Uncategorized, View from Sweeten

I’ll Be Seeing You

Author: Carolyn Grace, C’16

Hit play and start reading!

It’s been a week of “lasts” here at dear old Penn – yesterday was my last chapter meeting with Sigma Kappa, today was my last day of classes, and Friday will be my last rehearsal with Counterparts.  Normally, I’d be excited for the closing of yet another school year.  Summer’s just around the corner, and I’ll get to spend it with so many of my friends who are choosing to stay in Philly!  But for one reason or another, I don’t feel that excited.  At least not right now.

Maybe it’s the rain (sorry, I mean MONSOON) outside.  Maybe it’s the looming papers and final exams that I have in the next couple weeks.  Or maybe it’s the realization that I’ll be boarding a plane next semester instead of driving 45 minutes to move back on campus.  Whatever it is, I’m sad to be nearing the end of my sophomore year.  It was hard getting back into the swing of things when I returned to campus this past August, and it by no means got any easier.  But in spite of all that, I can say with confidence that it was better than my freshman year.  I was presented with new and exciting opportunities, and more importantly I met new and exciting people, people who I am honored to call close friends.

I found this picture in my room earlier this afternoon:

It’s the first picture of me from this academic year, the first day of NSO to be exact.  I definitely had no idea what the year was going to be like, but that didn’t stop me from goofing off with my friends!  That seems to be the best way for me to combat the anxiety of not knowing, acting silly.  Hopefully, I can keep a similar lightheartedness as I enter my semester abroad next year.

I wonder what my last picture from sophomore year will look like.  I guess I don’t really need to know right now.  There’s fun in not knowing.

Until next year, dear Quakers.  I’ll be seeing you.  Thanks for reading :)

 

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Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Carolyn G., Clubs, Memories of Penn, Penn in the Summer, Photos, Student Perspective, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Video, Videos

Do You Want to See My Show, Man?

Author: Carolyn Grace, C’16

Tapping into my inner Pitbull while rapping  "Timber" with the Mask and Wig band!

Tapping into my inner Pitbull while rapping “Timber” with the Mask and Wig band!

Well, Fling has finally been flung, dear Quakers, and oh what a wonderful weekend it was! As planned, I danced to David Guetta, sang/rapped on stage with both Counterparts and Mask and Wig, and ate my weight in fried oreos. All in all, a successful few days :)

But my performances are not over!  Oh no, my biggest show of the semester is coming up this weekend: the Counterparts Spring show!  If you’ve clicked on the link, then you’ve just discovered that our show title “Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?” is, in fact, “Frozen”-themed.  Because “Frozen” will always be relevant.  Always.

I have to say, the publicity we’ve done for this show is pretty awesome.  We have a great series of posters (see below), and we just released a promotional YouTube video as well.  However, if you haven’t seen “Frozen”… well I don’t know what to tell you.  None of these references will make sense.  So I suggest you watch the movie before coming to the show.

Our poster for "Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?"

Our poster for “Do You Wanna Build a Show, Man?”

My Facebook profile picture to promote the show!  I know, it's pretty adorable.

My Facebook profile picture to promote the show! I know, it’s pretty adorable.

We’re back in Iron Gate Theatre, where I sang in my first-ever CP concert.  It’s a beautiful space, and I can’t wait to see it packed with my friends, family, and Counterparts alumni!  Our set list is also stellar.  I’ll be singing “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” with one of our new members, Andrew.  In addition, we have songs by the Beatles, Amy Winehouse, Sara Bareilles, Ariana Grande, Hall and Oates, and Delta Rae…just to name several.

Like the many other student artists on campus, I am always in a bit of shock when I enter the week leading up to my show.  It’s crazy to think about how much work I’ve put into the semester for Counterparts, and it’s going to be culminating into only two performances this weekend!  It’s times like these that I try to truly appreciate the level of talent and dedication to the arts that exists here at Penn.  Though I cannot go to every show that happens on campus, I will always applaud the effort that goes into any and every performance.

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Filed under Campus Life, Carolyn G., Clubs, Photos, Student Perspective, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Video, Videos