Monthly Archives: August 2013

Penn Cares with the Penn Club of Northern California

By Betty Huang, ENG’12, GEN’12, and Jenny Zhan, C’10, W’10

On Saturday, June 15th, we held our inaugural Penn Club of Northern California community service event with eight Penn alumni at the San Francisco Food Bank warehouse in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. The San Francisco Food Bank delivers 100,000 meals worth of food every day to senior and families in need, and relies on volunteers year-round to help package and distribute the resources. Our Penn Cares volunteers spent three hours that Saturday afternoon manning the apple juice table – that is, we were responsible for filling each food donation box with two bottles of apple juice. Packed additionally with cereal, canned fruit, and other pantry staples, these boxes would go out to the 11,000 low-income seniors in San Francisco, where approximately one in four seniors live at the risk of hunger.

NorCal Penn Cares 1

We were blown away by the efficiency of the Food Bank staff in directing all the volunteers, for many of whom this was a first-time experience at the warehouse. We all gathered around an assembly line in an orderly fashion, and worked at such a rapid pace that we had to constantly switch positions because our arms would get sore (lifting bottles of apple juices was quite a workout)! Nevertheless, everybody had a great time, and our three-hour shift passed by quickly as we all chatted away while multi-tasking on the packaging. Volunteers like us work in shifts to provide the Food Bank with the equivalent manpower of 70 full-time workers – this in turn allows the Food Bank to save on salaries and turn 96% of all donations directly to their programs. At the end of our shift, we were asked to guess how many food boxes we had packaged – we were all astonished to hear that together with the other volunteers, we had packed exactly 1,377 boxes in three hours, helping 1,377 seniors for one entire month – It was such an instant gratification knowing that each box we packed would go to one senior and alleviate some of his or her food security-related stress for the next month!

NorCal Penn Cares 2

If you live in the San Francisco area, we encourage you to join the Penn Club of Northern California, and sign up for their free email newsletter to be notified of other Penn Cares events.

NorCal Penn Cares 3

NorCal Penn Cares 4


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Clubs, Events, GAN, Guest blogger, Uncategorized, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Nine Tips for New Students: Making the Most of Your Penn and Philly Experience

Author: Gabriela Coya, C’14

A week ago, I uttered the words “I’m a senior” for the first time and freaked out.

I don’t think I ever felt uncomfortable mentioning my sophomore or junior status, but something about saying the word “senior” felt overwhelming. The real world is officially looming in the background and I’m not sure what I’m going to do once I leave this place I’ve come to call home.

I can’t believe my time at Penn is almost up, but this campus has so much to offer, and before I graduate, I want to be sure I share a few pieces of advice I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way).

1. Explore the campus. There are so many hidden nooks and crannies in this place that it’s easy to limit your knowledge of campus to your dining halls, dorm, and classroom building. But explore! Places like the newly remodeled sixth floor of Van Pelt are gorgeous, and the Penn Museum has awesome exhibits and events for just about anyone; you don’t have to be an anthropology major to enjoy what they offer.


2. If you live in a college house, attend the house-wide events. I’ve lived on campus the last three years and would only sporadically go to a college house event until last year. I really regret this, as they’re often free and always turn out to be fun. While living in Rodin College House last year, I  had the opportunity to go to New York City for dinner and a show, venture into Old City, and even learn how to cook authentic Chinese food. Attending house events is also a great way to meet the people you live with.

3. Get tickets for the performing arts shows. Despite being best known for its academics, Penn has a vibrant performing arts community — you might be surprised to find out how many talented people are among us. During your four years at Penn, you must go to at least one Mask & Wig show at their clubhouse in Center City, and during the school year, make sure you check out productions of famous plays and Broadway shows (last year, they put on Legally Blonde and Next to Normal and both shows were amazing!). And best of all, you don’t have to pay Broadway prices.


4. Read the DP (Daily Pennsylvanian) and Under the Button. Both formats offer great ways to find out what’s happening on campus and in Philadelphia, so make sure you pick up your copy from one of the friendly people handing them out all over campus or go online between classes.

5. Take part in restaurant week. Between September 15-20 and 22-27, some of the top restaurants in Philly are offering three-course lunches at $20 and dinners at $35. It’s a great chance to appreciate all the great food Philly has to offer without having to pay the normal much higher price tag.

6. Give back and do community service. Look into possibly joining Community School Student Partnerships (CSSP), Big Brothers Big Sisters, or even a community service frat like Alpha Phi Omega (APO). I was a “Big Sister” to a young girl at a school a few blocks away, and it was so nice to be able to meet people outside of the “Penn Bubble” and make a difference.

7. Join a club to enjoy yourself and meet great people, not just to put something on your resume. It’s great if you find something that’s both entertaining and resume-worthy, but don’t fret if you want to sing in an a cappella group and are not sure how that fits into your pre-med plans. I assure you that by the time you graduate, you will have more than enough things to put on your resume.

8. Get Venmo. It’s a phone app that makes splitting the bill at dinnertime or sharing costs for furniture with your roommate so much easier.

9. And lastly, have fun. Take school seriously, of course, but take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. You are surrounded by such bright and wonderful people – professors and peers included – so try to learn as much from them, whether it be in office hours or during late 2 a.m. conversations.

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Filed under Gabriela C., Student Perspective

Penn Alumni Travel: Alaska 2013

Author: Dr. Jonathan Moreno, Department of Bioethics

When I was asked to serve as the faculty host for Penn Alumni Travel’s “Discover Southeast Alaska” I said “Yes!”

Then I said, “Now that we have a deal, you should know that I don’t know anything about Alaska.” It turns out that I now not only know a good bit about Southeast Alaska, I have also come to appreciate how the knowledge gained on the cruise fits with my own work.

But first, the trip.

On day one, we were welcomed with a native Alaskan dance by a troupe that ranged in age from one toddler to a few seniors.  The excitement of the Tlingit people about the opportunity to exhibit their culture and to rediscover it after decades of suppression and misunderstanding was palpable. Cultural interpreters were also on hand throughout the week to share and explain their native culture to us.

Then to the vessel.  The cozy surroundings of the Admiralty Dream contrasted with the magnificent scale of the natural sites we visited.  Monday’s highlight was a tour of a salmon hatchery, where we learned how to distinguish between farmed and ranched salmon – a lesson I will not forget when I make my next visit to Whole Foods – and how the rearing of ranched salmon is coordinated with the natural cycle.

Native arts in Alaska.

Native arts in Alaska.

Our trusty ship, the Admiralty Dream.

Our trusty ship, the Admiralty Dream.

At Hidden Falls, we were joined for the day by a remarkable young Park Service ranger who was positively poetic in her narrative about the significance of the region.  So were the two naturalists and the cultural guide who stayed with us for the entire week.  I now realize that they brought us along carefully as we explored one setting after another in the inland waterways.

Kayaking in Gambier Bay brought us close to the vegetation and views that could not be achieved aboard the boat  (speaking of which, a few hours in Juneau under the shadow of massive cruise ships made us all very happy that we were on the Admiralty Dream, which was vastly more suitable to the surroundings and took us places that are inaccessible to the behemoths).

Kayaking tour in the bay.

Kayaking tour in the bay.

The whale watching on day five was astonishing.  At one point, we were surrounded in the hours before dusk by half a dozen whales, including two who were swimming, surfacing, and diving in harmony.  The consensus favorite site of the week was Glacier Bay, where groups of us went out on inflatable boats to observe the sea lions, one of whom also seemed to take great pleasure in observing us in return.  The naturalists and cultural interpreters emphasized that we are visitors in their territory, so a tradition of respect is cultivated among the traditional peoples.  The point was driven home the last day on a hike where the naturalists hoped very much to run across some bears, while I suspect many of the rest of us were perfectly happy not to have done so.  I am, however, now an expert in recognizing bear droppings, which seem to be used to inform humans that they are in the neighborhood.  Fair enough.

Spectacular whale-watching.

Spectacular whale-watching.

Glaciar Bay.

Glacier Bay.

I haven’t said anything about the food, which was excellent and abundant, or in particular the positively sadistic desserts that kept coming out of the kitchen.  Nor have I acknowledged that presence of non-Fighting Quakers on board, though the friendships that developed transcended institutional loyalties.

And my personal takeaway?  I should have appreciated more than I did how important the region was to the history of geology, as the concept of glaciation is owed to John Muir’s travels in Southeast Alaska.  He and another naturalist of the era, one named Charles Darwin, transformed our understanding of the natural world, all within a couple of decades of each other in the middle of the 19th century.

But I bet our desserts were better.

Penn alumni on board the ship.

Penn alumni on board the ship.

[Penn Alumni Travel will be returning to Alaska next year. Click here to learn more about our July 5-12, 2014 tour with Professor Larry Silver].

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Filed under Faculty perspective, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Sea Lions and Whales and Bears…Oh My!

Author: Janell Wiseley

About two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of traveling with Penn alumni, and Penn professor Jonathan Moreno, to South East Alaska.  Our boat, The Admiralty Dream, was a 66 passenger 104 foot ship that was designed to go where the larger cruise ships cannot. Cruising on this small ship gave us the best views possible while still having an intimate atmosphere where Penn passengers and those from the other schools were able to get to know one another on a first name basis and form friendships that hopefully last a lifetime.

I have lived outside of Philadelphia for all of my 34 years. Up until this point, my knowledge of wildlife has been Sea World and the Philadelphia Zoo. I have never seen wild animals in their natural habitat until this trip.  Every night (and the days not spent kayaking, hiking, or going for rides in the DIB), I would stand at the bow of the ship with my camera and binoculars and wait with my whale-watching friend Alan, for the sound of a humpback as it surfaced for a breath. Then, we would scan the water furiously hoping to get glimpse of these mammals.  I was never once disappointed.

Besides whales, we saw sea otters, seals, sea lions, bears, moose, bald eagles and tons more wildlife and landscapes; too many to capture here.

This trip surpassed all of my expectations and if you ever get the chance to visit Alaska, this breathtakingly beautiful part of the United States, you should jump at the chance.  You won’t be disappointed.
















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Filed under Janell W., Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Campus Dining Options, or, How to avoid Dieting on Penn’s Campus

Author: Lillian Gardiner, GEd’11

Assistant Director, Multicultural Outreach, UPenn

With a new school year beginning, many students and new staff are wondering where to find the best grub on Penn’s campus. It’s taken me well over 2 years to get a grip on all the yummy food available here but I met the challenge head on and am now sharing the results of my labor with you.

Here are some of my tried-and-true favorites:

1. Joe’s Café, Steinberg Dietrich. You may not find this on your own, it’s a beautiful, well-lit space to have lunch inside. They offer sandwiches, soups, & salads, and a lot of healthy snacks like yogurt, hummus, and protein bars.

2. 1920 Common’s: just past the bridge coming from Locust walk. It features a recently renovated Starbucks, a gourmet grocery store and a LOT of hot food options. If you have a sweet tooth, I’d poke around here.

3. The Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays in front of the bookstore. It’s hard to miss but easy to forget it’s there every week until 3pm. Try to make a point of getting some fruit, fresh baked bread and a popsicle from the Lil’Pop Shop stand.

4. Finally, the food trucks! I’ll just list my favorites and you can look them up. You’ll have to take my word that these are delicious. Try Twitter for their locations and FB/websites for details.

Tyson Bees, Cucina Zapata, Lil’Dan’s, Pitruco, Delicias.

Zapata's Cap'N Crunch Tilapia Burrito

Zapata's tacos

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Welcome Class of 2017

Penn Traditions is SO excited to welcome a new class of freshmen into the Penn family! We started last night with our annual Highball to Hey Day presentation, where freshmen learned about Penn’s most exciting traditions.  Special thanks to the Penn Band, Glee Club, cheerleaders, and the Quaker  mascot for helping us get fired up.

highball to hey day

Check out how many first year students already signed their class banner!  We can’t wait to bring it back out for their fifth, tenth, fiftieth reunions.

class of 2017 banner

We’re off to another fun New Student Orientation event, but stay tuned, we think this class will accomplish some BIG things during their time at Penn and beyond.


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Nicole S.

My Top Penn List – New Student Orientation 2013

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

It’s upon us.

After the March 28 acceptance letters… after the yield events in hometowns with alumni talking about their wonderful times at Penn… after the rush for supplies at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, Kohls or Ikea… after the Regional Club or Penn Parents or Interview Program’s Welcome to Penn summer student reception… after the long drive in the car packed to the gills with new possessions, old favorites, great memories and dreams… after the promises to call home often, the newly-arrived member of the Class of 2017 is on campus.

Here are my top ten Penn things about New Student Orientation (NSO).

10. Move In

Moving to Penn is a major event in a student’s life; it’s the start of a student’s academic career and life-long relationship with our fantastic university. Eschewing the term, “dormitory,” on-campus housing is a collection of 11 College Houses. Each College House couples diverse students with faculty and offers its own unique combination of architectural features, specialized programming, and distinctive staff, while also providing a high level of advising and support for academic and co-curricular activities.

Reminisce about your Penn days and see how Penn’s updated the on-campus living experience with a look at our College Houses’ Facebook pages: Du Bois, Fisher Hassenfeld (Upper Quad), Gregory, (Van Pelt and MLCH) Harnwell, (High Rise East) Harrison (High Rise South), Hill, Kings Court-English, Riepe (Lower Quad), Rodin (High Rise North), Stouffer (Stouffer and Meyer Hall) and Ware.

9. The 2013-14 Penn Reading Project (PRP)

The PRP book for the Class of 2017

Started with my incoming class (the Class of 1995), the PRP was created as an introduction for incoming freshmen to academic life at Penn.  This year’s choice is Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley. The Class of 2017 will meet in various locations on campus on the afternoon of Monday, August 26, 2013, to discuss the reading.

For our alumni volunteers reading, hosting a bookclub around the reading of this book is something that your alumni liaison would be willing to help you plan.

8. NSO Preceptorials

Preceptorials are short, small, non-credit seminars coordinated by the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education (SCUE) and led by distinguished faculty, outstanding graduate students, lauded external educators and exceptional undergraduate students. The program is designed to foster an interactive and educative environment that values learning for learning’s sake. To that end, there are no grades or tests so that students are given the opportunity to have a guided learning experience outside the traditional setting of a classroom

7. First Year Fridays

NSO is just a week, but First Year Fridays are all year long. Join your fellow freshmen for a number of activities meant to ease the transition into college and provide a fun venue for making new friends and learning about out great university and what it has to offer

6. Highball to Hey Day

Learn the words to the School Songs and have the first opportunity to sign your Class Banner, which will follow through your life-long relationship with Penn

“Highball to Hey Day,” a Penn Traditions event, is designed to teach students about Penn’s history and traditions, foster Penn pride, inspire class unity, offer opportunities for direct communication between students and alumni, and education students about Penn’s institutional strengths and challenges in preparation for their lifelong role as alumni. I’m looking forward to seeing Nicole Svonavec’s post tomorrow about this tradition since 2006.

5. Peers Helping Incoming New Students (PHINS)

In addition to being one of my favorite acronyms at Penn, PHINS are NSO leaders who are trained to aid incoming freshmen and transfer students with their general adjustment to life at Penn. PHINS reach out to incoming students in the summer through Facebook and are in-person assistants during NSO.

4. Breakfast with Faculty

On Monday, August 26, 2013, 8:30 – 10am, students are invited to Hill College House dining hall to have breakfast with Penn faculty who teach popular freshmen courses and learn all about them

3. Pictures at the LOVE statue

Need I say more?

2. NSO’s social media

Like all well planned events, NSO has reached out to our Class of 2017 with its official Facebook Page – – and Official NSO Twitter.

1. Penn Traditions Welcome Picnic

Dr. Gutmann and the Penn Band welcoming the class of 2016 and their parents

Parents and students are invited to join Penn Parents, Penn Traditions, Penn Alumni Relations staff, and PHINS at College Green and Class of 1976 Patio (Rain Location: Wynn Commons) on Friday, August 23 from 11am to 1pm for a bite to eat after the intense job of moving into your new College House home.

I hope that this list makes you feel warmly nostalgic for your alma mater and we welcome you back to meet our newest class during Homecoming, which is only 78 days away (November 8 and 9.)

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On the Approach of Fall

Author: Aimee LaBrie

It’s ninety degrees today, and so the start of the fall semester seems off; summer can’t possibly be over already. Maybe it’s true that the older you get, the swifter time moves, because it feels like we just celebrated Alumni Weekend, and yet, here we are, just days away from Convocation.  Over the last week, new students have started arriving in droves to take part in New Student Orientation, the bookstore is flooded with returning students, and the line at the coffee shop stretches out to the street.

I want to tell the new students to take it easy; savor this short time before classes start, don’t fall in love with the first boy you meet at Hey Day, don’t rush to give up the better side of your dorm to your new roommate (she may seem sweet with her Southern accent and big red hair bows, but she will to turn on a dime).  Take your time when picking your confidantes, leave campus once in a while to see the rest of Philadelphia, buy lunch from the food trucks instead of Houston Hall, and, above all, eschew the idea that you need to take an 8 AM class. You do not.  Of course, I don’t say anything, but instead watch them and feel just slightly bit envious that for most of them them, time still stretches and they ache to get on with it.




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Penn Experts Discuss Health Care Reform

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer, Director of Web Communications for Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative

Health care reform is a hotly contested topic that intersects public policy, business economics, and health care practices.  Teasing out the short and long term implications of reform is a complicated task; one perfectly suited for a panel discussion with three of the leading health care economics experts and members of the Penn faculty.

“The Road Ahead for Health Care Reform,” co-sponsored by Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative and Wharton Lifelong Learning, will be a bipartisan discussion moderated by Mark Duggan, Rowan Family Foundation Professor; Faculty Director, Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative.

The evening will feature insights from two of the University’s foremost experts working at the intersection of business, health care and public policy: Professor Zeke Emanuel and Professor Dan Polsky.


Penn Alumni are encouraged to attend “The Road Ahead for Health Care Reform,” for what promises to be a lively discussion. Click here to register.

If you are unable to join us on September 9, you can follow live coverage of the event on Twitter @PennWhartonPPI.

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Filed under Academics, Lisa Marie Patzer, Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, Wharton

Where is it?

By Jason S.


Can you identify this new oasis of greenery on Penn’s campus? Hint: Once home to parked cars and food trucks, this  parklet now provides a welcome rest space for weary travelers walking from campus across the South Street Bridge.

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Filed under Jason S., Sustainability at Penn