Alumnae Paths: Spotlight on the 1990’s

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

Written for the University of Pennsylvania Association of Alumnae Spring 2012 Newsletter in honor of the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Eight women who graduated from Penn in the 1990’s take a moment to share what brought them to Penn, what they’ve been up to since then, and what bits of wisdom they’ve picked up along the way. Representing fields from law to education, from health care to the arts, these fabulous women are all taking steps to leave the world better than they found it. Keep doing our alma mater proud, ladies. Note: our next newsletter will feature alumnae from another decade. Watch for it!

Meet some of your sisters in Red & Blue!

• Stephanie Renée, W’91 – Broadcaster
• Mary Beth Kochman, C’95 – Teacher
• Lucy Ramos Miller, C’97 – General Magistrate
• Jenny Chung, W’97 – Country Club CEO
• Angela Jimenez, C’97 – Photographer
• Bleema (Moskowitz) Bershad, W’95 – Marketing Entrepreneur
• Candra Wooten, C’97 – Physician
• Jordana Horn Gordon, C’95 – Writer

Stephanie Renée, W’91 – Broadcaster

Why did you choose Penn?
I attended a business magnet program in high school and was part of only the 2nd graduating class from the initiative. My school administrators drilled Wharton into my head when it was time to apply for college, and thankfully Penn and Philadelphia filled all of my other requirements for what I was looking for in my college experience. My acceptance package sealed the deal.

What did you study?
I initially arrived as a Finance major, but quickly understood that a life of number crunching was not my preference. I switched to Marketing immediately, and later added Legal Studies as a second concentration at the advice of a professor who saw great potential in me for a possible future in law.

What activities meant the most to you as a student, and why?
Penn Gospel Choir was my artistic refuge after making a pretty difficult adjustment to college life my first semester. As a spiritual center and creative outlet, I desperately needed Gospel Choir to feel grounded and a part of a welcome community. But all of my artistic activities significantly impacted my life. My junior year, I had the pleasure of being one of the founding members of The Inspiration a cappella group, and I also directed Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls with the Penn Black Arts League (now known as the African American Arts Alliance, or 4A). Those two events profoundly changed my life for the better, and let me know that I had to pursue careers with arts as a main focus.

How did you get involved in radio?
My first corporate job after Penn was as a copywriter and broadcast producer for a local ad agency. I was called in to voice a last-minute PSA, interviewed with the company and was hired a week later. I would often spec read the spots I had written for clients, and eventually many of them asked if I could record them for the actual broadcasts. That, plus some encouragement from WRTI-FM’s J. Michael Harrison, led me to begin hosting my own radio programs.

Tell us about your current position, and your path to it.
At WURD, I had been a frequent fill-in host for my buddy Al Butler, who hosts the afternoon drive slot. I have also worked professionally with several of the station’s administrative heads in other capacities. Unfortunately, this past February, one of the station’s hosts–Fatimah Ali–passed away suddenly, which left WURD scrambling for a solution to fill her slot. I was one of the people on a short list to audition for the slot and after several weeks of hosting shows, interviews/meetings and positive feedback from the public, I became the chosen one.

What other professional activities have you been involved in since graduation?
I quit my day job at the ad agency in December 1998, and have been actively working as a performer and teaching artist ever since. I did a stint of three years in professional musical theater in Philadelphia and New York. I began writing and singing house (dance) music and got to travel to Singapore as a resident vocalist for a new club there. I’ve been a consultant with several non-profit organizations to provide media and creative writing curriculum to teens. I design diversity training programs for colleges and non-profit agencies. I’ve filmed my first documentary and held screenings across the country and on cable TV. I’ve helped refine a World Readiness curriculum for the Restorative Justice branch of Philadelphia Mural Arts, where my students are recently paroled offenders age 25 and under. I actively work as a voiceover artist and instructor. I could go on, but the bottom line is that I am blessed to use my creative energies every single day and I love it!

How has your connection to Penn impacted your life, both personally and professionally?
My high school counselor told me clearly before graduation that my college friends would be the friends I’d have for life, and she couldn’t have been more correct. Penn people are the backbone of everything I do, from my professional connections to the lasting friendships that consistently lift me up and push me forward. Philadelphia can be a hard place on people who were not born and raised here, but the Penn network I’ve developed over the years have always been an open and welcome resource for me to accomplish my goals. DC is my birthplace, but Penn and the larger Philadelphia community have raised me into adulthood.

What advice do you have for other women interested in pursuing a profession similar to yours?
I would advise any women who desire a career in communications to be a sponge and be relentless. It is essential that you know a good amount of information about just about anything. You have to be outgoing, knowledgeable and ubiquitous. The more people see and hear of you in the right places opens all kinds of avenues for you to be included in future personal and professional development opportunities. Many of my current coworkers have been former clients of mine in another incarnation. Good relationships do not die.

Any last words of wisdom to your Penn sistren?
Penn is a bottomless well of opportunity, if you stay current on University initiatives and find a way to stay connected. My work in Alumni Relations has been such a wonderful way to explore my creative pursuits and to offer insights as to how current students’ experiences can be enhanced by more alumni involvement. Penn isn’t just about pursuing a degree; it is a lifelong connection for education, fulfillment and growth.

Read about the other featured Penn alumnae in our Spotlight on the 1990s!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Profile, Alumni Programming, Nicole M.

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