From the Hill to the Hub

Author: Liz Pinnie

This weekend, my grandfather took the train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to spend time with my family. Saturday’s agenda included a trip to Penn. As we meandered through campus, I peppered my grandfather with historical facts, updates on exciting research happening at Penn, stories about student life, and tales of the Ben Franklin statues. As we reached the car, he remarked in his deep baritone, “Why Elizabeth, it seems like you really like the place.”

Now, I should be honest.  Penn is not my Alma Mater (gasp!).  I attended a teeny, tiny Hamilton College atop a hill in Upstate New York. The entire population of the school was smaller than the freshman class at Penn.  The nearest Starbucks was forty minutes away. The average temperature in January was ten degrees. There were two dining halls on campus and two bars in town. There was no graduate school (or schools for that matter), no Ben Franklin statues, no coffee shops in the library.  If you wanted a hoagie, you had to go to Subway- which is tragic.

Hamilton's skyline at dusk

However, for all of the obvious differences between petite and rural Hamilton and grand and urban Penn, I’ve learned that these schools share some essential similarities. Both value unique experiences, a diversified education, pushing ones boundaries and learning from the people- and world- around you.*

It turns out that my grandfather is right. Whether consciously or unconsciously, in the three short months I have worked at Penn, I have become a champion of it. Every morning when I walk to work, I marvel at the gorgeous buildings, and the relative peace and quiet of this city school. In the office, I love hearing the stories of the interesting alumni I meet and reading articles about the fascinating research and projects Penn students and faculty are involved in. I can’t wait to check out the sports scores, try out new lunch spots, and send out Tweets about weekend events for alumni. Though my love for Hamilton’s Buff & Blue will never die, it seems that it might have to scoot over a bit for Penn’s Red & Blue.

My new, favorite statue

*We also share perhaps equally quirky mascots. While Penn cheers for the Quakers, Hamilton rallies around the Continental, a revolutionary soldier.  Like I said, “quirky.” 

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