Category Archives: Traditions

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

 

Comm-6comm-8Comm-5Comm-3

comm-4Comm-7Comm-2

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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

Penn Traditions: The Good, The Bad, and THE RED & THE BLUE!

Author: Nicole Svonavec GEd ‘09

Every college student takes part in traditions on their campus as part of a unifying undergraduate experience.  I’ve attended and worked at several colleges so far, and Penn’s traditions stand out for their uniqueness, mass appeal, and staying power.  Experiences like Hey Day, Spring Fling, and taking a photo with your boo at the LOVE statue, have stood the test of time.  Creative Class Boards, Penn Traditions students, and other student leaders are forming new traditions (shout out to Holifest!) every year.

On the other hand, some traditions have faded into history.  And let’s be real, I’m feeling okay about that.  While I love reminiscing with our Old Guard alumni about retired traditions from their Penn days, I see a few good reasons to keep these in the archives:

“The Bowl Fight”

Although these strapping young lads look quite happy in the photo (from 1905), The Bowl Fight stands as one of Penn’s most historic, but also most sketchy traditions.  I’m not sure which one of these students was elected to be shoved INSIDE that bowl by his peers, but I would cry seeing our fabulous freshmen and sophomore duking-it-out on College Green in present-day.  Final verdict: This tradition is one of Penn’s best (craziest) stories, but a happily retired one.

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

“The Poster Fight”

(Note how many of these old traditions include the word “fight.”  Thankfully the advent of Pottruck Gymnasium seems to have given students a more productive outlet for their pent-up energy).  1905 was a busy year for traditions, and The Poster Fight stands as another fine example of class rivalries at their best/most intense.  The poster below (located in Sweeten Alumni House – come visit!) shows how “no blow was too low” when asserting your eminence over other classes.  Hopefully they all hugged it out at the end of the day.

poster fight3

“Kissing the Boot”
Everyone loves a good freshman rite-of-passage, but the 1940s-50s tradition of kissing Ben Franklin’s boot outside of Weightman Hall strikes me as a bit unsanitary.  Good thing freshman carried this out in early fall, because kissing a metal boot in the winter seems like it could cause the same nightmare as getting your tongue stuck to the flagpole in elementary school (Note: this did NOT happen to me, whew).

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

The Penn Traditions program is currently working on a new event (to launch in fall 2014) aiming to teach current students about some of these hilarious/spirited/dangerous traditions of the past.  If you took part in a really fun tradition on campus during your time at Penn, email svonavec@upenn.edu so we can include it in our event!

*Thanks to the Penn Archives and Under the Button for inspiring this post!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Historical, Memories of Penn, Nicole S., Traditions, Uncategorized, yPenn

February!

Author: Edna Gonzalez-Serrano, GED’15

Well the school year was slow to start with winter storms left and right. This week has been my second full week of classes and it’s already February?!! My comp exams are in 2 weeks, spring break is 4 weeks away, and graduation is 98 days away!!! I feel as if time is on super speed. Somewhere in the middle of all that time I have to get a job, pass my classes and do an independent study with Professor Marybeth Gasman. Wish me luck!

Here’s some photos from the opening of the Arch Building yesterday.

The food was delicious! But I had to wait in a looooooooong line to get a free sampler. Which was totally worth it! Authentic Mexican hot chocolate, brownies made with Mexican chocolate, fresh guacamole, fresh drinks!

Edna 2-7 blog1 edna 2-7 blog2

And last but not least, First Toast for the Senior Class!!!

Yours truly was at the free prize wheel at the Constitution Center.

Yours truly was at the free prize wheel at the Constitution Center.

Hanging out with Ben and his fellow colleagues, waiting to party!

Hanging out with Ben and his fellow colleagues, waiting to party!

And taking in the view…

And taking in the view…

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Filed under Campus Life, Edna G, Student Perspective, Traditions

A Year in Review at the Red and the Blue

Author:  Carolyn Grace, C’16

Play this and start reading:

Happy New Year, Quakers!  I hope you all celebrated accordingly :)

Since we’re only into the second day of 2014, I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to look back on the many fond memories I had in good ol’ 2013.  However, this is, after all, a Penn blog.   That’s why I’m using this post for My Top 12 Penn Moments of 2013, one for each month.  Enjoy, and try to think of your Top 12 Penn Moments as well!

12. JANUARY

I get invited to become a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority!  I celebrated my acceptance with my new sisters all through the night, right into my 19th birthday the next morning.  Talk about a great birthday present!

I finally meet my Big!

I finally meet my Big!

11. FEBRUARY

Big-Little Week for Sigma Kappa!  (For those who are unfamiliar with the term “Big-Little Week,” click here for more info.)  After a FULL WEEK of anonymously-sent baked goods, gifts, and guys, I discover who my wonderful Big is:  Tara!

10. MARCH

Spring Break has arrived at Penn, and what better way to spend it than with my fellow Quakers!  I take a weekend trip to Tenafly, NJ with my good friends Charlotte and Gabby, both of whom I met through the freshman seminar “Katharine Hepburn Films.”  I also travel to New York City with a few members of Counterparts:  Lilly, Scott, and Nina.

9.  APRIL

Enjoying Fling with some SK girls and Mask & Wig guys!

CP about to take the stage

Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit here.  I have two big moments from April 2013.  The first, of course, is Spring Fling.  I mean, how can I leave that out?  It’s the largest collegiate carnival on the eastern seaboard!  Not to mention, it was my first one.  The second moment:  Time to Shine, of course.  Counterparts was one of the many student groups to perform before the Train and John Legend concert.  What was even cooler was that we were the first group to sing on the same stage as these artists!

8.  MAY

My freshman year at Penn finally comes to a close, but not before I start recording for the new CP album!  In the midst of studying for final exams, we all come in at various times to record various songs from first and second semester.

7.  JUNE

A beautiful day to see the Arc de Triomphe

A beautiful day to see the Arc de Triomphe

Bonjour de la France!  Already having departed in late May,  I am entering my  third week in Tours, France with the Penn-in-Tours summer abroad program.  For six weeks, I study a year’s worth of French at the Université François-Rabelais with about 30 other Penn students.  We all live with host families and go on weekend trips around the Loire Valley, visiting castles, exploring museums, and tasting wine!  After mid-terms, we are given a three-day weekend to travel anywhere in France.  I, along with my friends Rachel, Emily, Fola, and Faith, decide to spend those days roaming the magnificent city of Paris.

6.  JULY

A summer is not complete without a trip to the beach.  In addition to my family’s annual vacation in Strathmere, NJ, I spend a weekend in Wildwood with my good friend, Alexa.  She’s one of the first friends I made at Penn!

5.  AUGUST

BACK. TO. SCHOOL.  After another summer of not tanning at all, I am ready for Sophomore year to begin!  Before NSO even starts, however, I kick off the new school year as a student leader for the PennArts pre-orientation program.  I participated in PennArts as a freshman, and it’s just as fun to experience it again as a leader.  The 50-60 of us explore all the arts that both the Penn and Philadelphia communities have to offer.

The PennArts leaders are ready to welcome the freshmen!

4.  SEPTEMBER

CP welcomes its newest members: David, Emily, Michael, and Andrew!

3.  OCTOBER

Date Night?  More like Neuro Night!  A Wharton junior in SK has partnered with the drink company, Neuro, for a class project. As a thank-you for all of her hard work, Neuro brings in manicurists and hair stylists to the SK house to help the girls get ready for our Date Night downtown!

Sarah, Virginia, and I try some Neuro while we wait to get our hair done

Sarah, Virginia, and I try some Neuro while we wait to get our hair done

2.  NOVEMBER

After weeks and weeks of rehearsal, Counterparts performs its Fall show, “Private ‘Parts.”  I sing a jazz song by Melody Gardot called “Baby, I’m a Fool.”

1.  DECEMBER

I am invited to sing at the Mask & Wig Club’s annual Charity Ball!  The band held auditions earlier in the Fall, and several girls (a bunch of them in CP!) were selected to perform.  The guys were extremely fun to rehearse with, and the songs were so much fun!  Of the three events I sang for, Charity Ball was definitely my favorite.  Everyone dresses up in gowns and tuxedos for a night of great food, dancing, and music.  What a classy way to close out the year!

Me and my date, Luke

Me and my date, Luke

And there you have it, 2013 through the eyes of a Penn Quaker.  I hope 2014 brings just as many great moments like these, maybe even more!  Enjoy the new year, Quakers :)

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Filed under Campus Life, Carolyn G., Clubs, Fine Art, Making History, Memories of Penn, Penn in the Summer, Penn Park, Philadelphia, Photos, Student Perspective, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Traditions, Travel, Uncategorized, Video, Videos

Sweets ‘N Study

Author:  Nicole Svonavec, GEd ‘09

The Penn Traditions Alumni Engagement Committee hosted two study breaks in Sweeten during the midterms month of October.  We provided snacks, music, quiet study space, and LOTS of coffee.  Over 100 students joined us for Sunday evening study time (let’s be real, the snacks below were the REAL treat :).

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We’re so excited to introduce more current students to Sweeten, our alumni home on campus, long before they officially graduate!

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We’ll host this event again during finals time, so look for our Facebook posts and chalk art on The Walk for dates and times.

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More about Penn Traditions
The Penn Traditions Alumni Engagement Committee is one of three student leadership committees advised by Penn Alumni Relations.  We sponsor student funding, alumni networking, and great traditions events like Final Toast and Highball to Hey Day.  Students who would like more information about Penn Traditions, or want to get involved with Alumni Relations, can contact Nicole Svonavec at svonavec@upenn.edu.

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Hey Day 1993 – 21 Years Later

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

As the Junior Class celebrates Hey Day today, the Class of 1993 is busy preparing for our 20th reunion in just a few short weeks. But it’s also a good time to think back and remember our time as students. It’s hard to believe that twenty-one years ago, on April 24, 1992, we were strutting down Locust Walk about to become Seniors and officially begin our last year at Penn.

Remember the bookstore wall? Huntsman Hall now stands where this wall was. Hey Day is coming - buy your hat, canes and shirts!

Remember the bookstore wall? Huntsman Hall now stands where this wall was. Hey Day is coming – buy your hat, canes and shirts!

I asked my classmates to share their memories of Hey Day, but no one was willing to fess up and share anything on the record. So, here is Hey Day 1993…names withheld to protect the innocent.

Anonymous Classmate #1

OMG, Hey Day! I had 3 job offers and was deciding between them. Completely forgot that a rep from one of the 3 firms was coming to meet me that day to talk about his company. After many, many cocktails, I stumbled back to off-campus housing midday in my red t-shirt and broken hat to find him sitting on my front steps. I could hardly put 2 words together. Cheers to my housemates who saved the day and invited him into our filthy stinking apartment and got him completely wasted. Needless to say, I accepted the offer and stayed at that job for 12 years. It was so awesome. He was my first boss — we just had drinks together this past Tuesday!!

Everyone gathered in off-campus apartments and houses to start the celebration.

Everyone gathered in off-campus apartments and houses to start the celebration.

Hey Day Kiera Lisa

Hey Day Regan 2

Anonymous Classmate #2

First of all it was one of my best days at Penn – being with all my best friends on the Junior Balcony, hugging each other and laughing, while at the same time seeing – in one place – so many of our classmates that I had met during the 3 years before.

I remember after all the festivities started to die down, standing buzzed in the lightly falling rain in the middle of College Green listening to Jerry Brown give a campaign speech for President. I remember thinking, “Boy did his campaign staff really pick the wrong day to come to campus!” Everyone in the audience was a drunk junior – barely standing, cheering and not listening to him. It was a surreal experience for sure!

We made our way from Super Block, over the 38th Street Bridge.

We made our way from Super Block, over the 38th Street Bridge.

And then we headed to the Quad.

And then we headed to the Quad.

Hey Day Quad

Hey Day Lincoln

Hey Day Karen Jamie Deanna

Hey Day 2 friends

Hey Day girls college green

Anonymous Classmate #3

I remember I had a blast that day…smooched a couple people amid the hustle and bustle and had a great excuse to act silly and irresponsible all day. What I remember most though is how I ended the day…meeting class of ’92 friends on Locust Walk. One friend (Name withheld), W’92, took a bite out of my styrofoam hat and then drenched me in beer head to toe. He told me it was part of the Hey Day tradition and to this day I am not sure if his claim was true or just a sneaky opportunity to soak me :-)

And our class board led us down Locust Walk to College Green. L-R: Ed Miller, Elissa Laitin, Lisa Luther, Julie Berliner, Chrissy Bass, Mike Rosenband, Laurie Bieber, Brooke Hayes.  Not pictured Jennifer Spadano and Doug Rosenberg.

And our class board led us down Locust Walk to College Green.
L-R: Ed Miller, Elissa Laitin, Lisa Luther, Julie Berliner, Chrissy Bass, Mike Rosenband, Laurie Bieber, Brooke Hayes. Not pictured Jennifer Spadano and Doug Rosenberg.

Hey Day Regan

Hey Day Kathleen P Scoops

Hey Day crowd

Hey Day classmates

Congratulations to the Class of 2014 – we hope you have wonderful memories of today to share twenty-one years from now!

The Penn Archives shared the history of Hey Day.

See photos from today’s Hey Day on campus by following @UofPenn on Instragram or @Penn on Twitter. Hashtag is #HeyDay.

1993 Classmates – it’s only a few weeks until our 20th reunion

We can’t wait to see you on campus May 10-11, 2013!

93.Graphic

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Filed under 20th Reunion, Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Class of 1993, Historical, Kiera R., Memories of Penn, Photos, Reunions, Traditions

#yPennFinalToast

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

Tomorrow, April 24th, is Final Toast for the Class of 2013!  Final Toast, started by The Penn Traditions program in 2009, is a celebration for the seniors who are becoming Young Penn Alumni.  Follow @yPennAlumni on Twitter and Penn Alumni on Instagram to see live updates. Contribute your own photos with the hashtag #yPennFinalToast.

For inspiration, here are some photos from Final Toast 2012:

Seniors sporting Final Toast T-Shirts

Seniors sporting Final Toast t-shirts

There will be a lot of dancing.

There will be a lot of dancing.

More dancing and celebrating.

More dancing and celebrating.

Final Toast cups

Final Toast cups

Live music by talented students.

Live music by talented students.

Class of 2012 Tree planting.

Class of 2012 tree. Every year a new tree is dedicated at Final Toast.

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Filed under Campus Life, Lisa Marie Patzer, Traditions, Uncategorized, y-Penn, yPenn

Traditions

Author: Dan Bernick, C’14

In middle school, I played Tevye the Dairyman in Fiddler on the Roof. (Suffice it to say my acting career began and ended that year).

Tevy’s whole life was tradition, from the work he did to the ways his daughters were married. The play is about adapting these traditions in light of changing circumstances.

Penn is full of tradition and traditions. Fling has been around for 40 years, as has the Undergraduate Assembly (our 41st term started last night!).

There are some traditions at Penn that have disappeared. The tradition of the Rowbottom has not been seen (or heard) for years, and the Bowl Fight is long gone.

Some have been transformed. SkimmerFest is a result of Callow Day becoming Skimmer becoming Fling and then being brought back as Skimmer and then joining with SPEC’s Fall Fest to become Skimmerfest. The toast toss at Franklin Field has also evolved over the years.

This past weekend, Penn began a new tradition: Penn Holi, a celebration of spring. For some, the idea of a new tradition is oxymoronic. But Penn students understand new traditions are born all the time out of enthusiasm for the school, and that we should welcome novel ideas even as we carry forward the events of yesteryear.

Holi

Photo credit: Penn Class Boards

Photo Credit: Penn Class Boards

Traditions are part and parcel of a Penn education. And whether they are generations old or brand new, they bring our community closer together.

As I reflect on my last three years and prepare for Hey Day (another great Penn traditions), I am humbled to be part of something much bigger than myself…to be part of Penn Traditions.

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Filed under Campus Life, Daniel B., Student Perspective, Traditions, Uncategorized

Family Night at the Palestra – A HUGE Success!

Author: Kristina Clark

On Friday evening, February 22, I once again had the pleasure of hosting over 480 Penn alumni families for an event at the Palestra.  This was the second time that Penn Alumni and the Association of Alumnae hosted a Family Night at the Palestra — it was an even bigger success than last year!  The evening began just after 5 PM with children of all ages having an opportunity to shoot hoops with Penn’s women basketball team members. The kids had a blast and so did the players. Following the shoot-around, and prior to the basketball team taking the court for warm-ups, families were greeted by women’s head basketball coach, Mike McLaughlin.  Food vouchers were distributed for each attendee so they could go to the concession stand at their convenience for a hot dog or pizza, soft pretzel, and beverage.  Penn Alumni families were treated to an amazing night and the game was the icing on the cake.  For the second straight game, the Quakers dominated an Ivy opponent at The Palestra.  Penn posted its largest win over Cornell since 1981 and claimed its fourth straight victory!

The cost to participate in this Palestra Family Night event was $5 person.  The event was sponsored by Penn Alumni and the Association of Alumnae.  We look forward to offering this event again next year and hope you can join us!

In the meantime, mark your calendars now for upcoming Penn Alumni Family Events:

Family Day at Mask & Wig – 3/16/13 — Click to REGISTER
40 Winks with the Sphinx – 3/29-30/13 — SOLD OUT

Contact Penn Alumni Relations at 215-898-7811 for more information.
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Filed under Alumni Programming, Association of Alumnae, Athletics, Campus Life, Events, Kristina C., Penn Basketball, Traditions, Uncategorized