Monthly Archives: February 2015

How Penn is Taking the Next Step to ‘Treating Untreatable Cancer’

By Michal Clements W’84

As part of Penn’s Year of Health, Chicago area Penn alumni gathered on February 18, 2015 for a captivating presentation by Dr. Bruce Levine, C’84, my Penn undergraduate classmate, and the Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy at the Perelman School of Medicine.


The engaging topic was “Designing and Building Targeted Immunity from Patient’s Own Cells: Treating Untreatable Cancers.” The meeting was sponsored by the Perelman School of Medicine and the Penn Club of Chicago.

Nine highlights of the lively presentation were:

1. Penn was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Gene Immunotherapy by the FDA (similar to the TSA Pre Check line for FDA approval). (

2. As of 2014, the Penn team (Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania) treated over 150 patients with CLL, ALL, Lymphoma, and myeloma with their own engineered T cells designed to kill their cancer. To qualify, all patients must have relapsed following two other treatments.   The overall complete response rate for the ALL subgroup is 90%; Moreover, 70% of this group have failed stem cell transplant prior to receiving their investigational T cell therapy.


3. Penn’s program and research is expanding to treat a broad range of cancers, beyond CLL, ALL and Lymphoma, including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, glioblastoma and others. More information is available here: and at

4. Penn’s medical campus footprint has increased seven to ten fold since the early 1980’s when Dr. Levine and I were undergraduates. The new Center for Advanced Cellular Therapeutics center will open in 2016.

5. This treatment is for patients who have not succeeded with other courses of treatment. Cell and Regenerative Medicine may become the next pillar of cancer therapy (after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation). It’s possible that this will relegate stem cell transplants to history.

6. The clinical trial patients are “like astronauts” because they are take the step into the unknown. Pediatric patient, Emily Whitehead, serves as one example. Emily’s treatment been profiled in the short documentary by Ross Kauffman “Fire with Fire” and in the upcoming PBS Ken Burns’ special “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”, episode 6. The PBS special will air on PBS on March 30th- April 1st.

Cancer Free

7. In August 2012, Penn Medicine entered into a partnership with Novartis to tap into their global research and regulatory expertise. In December 2012, Novartis bought a manufacturing facility. Penn’s program is differentiated from other Gene Immunotherapy programs through this operational capability and expertise (along with the Penn team). At present, manufacturing the CAR T Cells is a very manual process, since each lot is unique- made from the patient’s own cells. Work continues to CAR T Cell make the process more automated.

8. It took approximately 30 years for stem cell transplants to reach the 1 million mark,, a target is that CAR T Cell might accomplish this in half that time.

9. Philanthropy from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy and others funded the initial research. Interested Penn alumni can contribute directly at


Dr. Levine provided ample bonus material, including recommendations for more the upcoming PBS special, and the Fire with Fire VIMEO. On behalf of the Penn Club of Chicago, I want to thank Dr. Levine again and also the Perelman School of Medicine for co-sponsoring the event. Seeing this progress made renewed my sense of pride in Penn!


More info on designation is here:

Putting it in perspective, this is the first for an academic institution, the FDA has previously granted Breakthrough Therapy to only four other biologic agents and this is the first personalized cell therapy for cancer to obtain it.  From October 2013 through June 30, 2014 the FDA received 20 applications and only 3 were approved, the previous year, 10 of 11 applications were not approved.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Pride of South Africa

Author: David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor of English & Comparative Literature

Our group first convened at the Fairlawns Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg, on Friday 6 February 2015. Most travellers had been met at Joburg airport by Tina Kistenmacher, representing Gohagan, our travel company. Tina proved to be a colossus of organizational finesse from the beginning to the end of our journey. Usually she rode herd at the back of the group, keeping a low profile, but if problems arose she would move to the front– and we would notice that she was athletic, very tall, and gently persuasive; she speaks four languages.Tina Kistenmacher

Our itinerary was rather complex, and we never slept in the same place for more than two nights. There were internal flights, and we crossed and re-crossed borders between South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.  This itinerary had never been tried before, although a Gohagan rep. had made a “dry run” to test things out. Everything worked amazingly well, and the group bonded right from the start. The group was small, with seven Penn alums, plus myself as current Penn Faculty, and smaller groups from the two USCs: Southern Cal, including environmentalist Roberto Delgado, and South Carolina.  There were just sixteen of us in all, which was the perfect size for this particular adventure.

Our first full day saw us set off in the tracks of Nelson Mandela. We saw the house in Houghton where he lived with his third wife, Graca, and then the house where he died. Memorial stones had been left by people from all over the world:


We then headed towards Soweto, the locality in Johannesburg most famously associated with the struggle against apartheid. En route we passed five well-groomed pitches where the boys of St John’s School were playing cricket at 9.30 in the morning:


Progress through Soweto was slow, since funerals are held there only on Saturdays so that working people might attend. About 300 funerals take place every week, and many of the dead have succumbed to AIDS– still a critical health issue. Houses are generally small, with many children on the street, many of them orphans. Nonetheless, despite obvious hardships entrepreneurial spirit was clearly alive in Soweto, with makeshift spaces on the street for shoe repair and hair cutting:PeopleHomes

First stop in Soweto was Vilakazi Street, reputedly the only street where one Nobel Prizewinner lived at one end (Desmond Tutu) and another at the other (Nelson Mandela). The modest house in which the Mandelas had lived, complete with bullet holes from opportunistic drive-by shooters, has become a shrine for African visitors, keen to record their visit:Vilakazi Street

We drove past the site, close by, where 13-year-old schoolboy Hector Pieterson had been shot by police on 16 June 1976, sparking mass protests, and we visited the museum dedicated to his memory. The image of the dying Hector being carried away, with his sister Antoinette at his side, rates as one of the most powerful, galvanizing photographs of the twentieth century. It was thus a great privilege for us to meet and talk with Antoinette. She is a person of great poise and gentleness, and it is to me a great mystery how any person could emerge from such trauma (on the left in the photograph, holding up her right hand) to become such a spiritual, recollected person:Hector PietersonAntoinette

We lunched at a Soweto restaurant established to support local families, especially those affected by AIDS, as the proprietor explained. The food and local beer were excellent:Food

We then headed out past the stadium at which World Cup soccer games had been played to the Apartheid Museum, our next scheduled stop. Suddenly the rains came pouring down, and we learned that the museum was closed for the day due to one of the ‘rolling blackouts’ that plague South Africa. These failures to deliver electricity continue to embarrass the RSA government, since business grinds to a halt and nothing can be planned. So all we got of this museum was a quick glimpse through a rainy window:Museum

Happily, however, inspired contingency planning led us directly to Liliesleaf, the farmhouse in a white suburb that had served as a front and hiding place for leading anti-apartheid activists from 1961-3, including Mandela and Walter Sisulu. On 11 July 1963 this property was raided, many activists were arrested, and Mandela’s (incriminating) papers were found; this led to a trail, with Mandela as suspect #1. That evening, amazingly, back at our hotel, we were able to meet with Robin Binkes, son of one of the men arrested in July 1963 and the leading figure in preserving Liliesleaf for the nation. Robin talked of Jewish and Muslim contributions to the struggle, and of the struggle itself. He joined us for dinner, but then had to return home early after his wife had been hit by a flying champagne cork:Liliesleaf

Next day we headed off early towards Pretoria, stopping off at the imposing Vortrekker monument, built by Gerard Moerdijk to last a thousand years:

Vortrekker monument

Pieter, our congenial Afrikaaner guide, gave booming commentary on his Boer ancestors. The carved reliefs within the monument often emphasized the decisive role played by Boer women when their men wimped out:

carved reliefs

The first public building glimpsed as we headed into Pretoria was the prison in which blade-runner Oscar Pretorius is currently confined. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment, but given the usual 10% of time served in RSA will likely be out by the end of 2015 (under house arrest). Next we saw the massive, colonial-era Union Building, whose two wings represented English and Afrikaaner rule. Nowadays both wings are best viewed through the arms of the giant Mandela statue set in front of them, a favourite spot for wedding portraits:giant Mandela statue

Following a quick lunch we interviewed a friendly ostrich, who was happy not to be on the menu (as ostrich was later in the week):ostrich

We then headed to Joburg airport for the flight to Cape Town. While awaiting the plane, Philadelphia Judge Harvey Bartle III (L 65) caught up with local news, while Natalie Akin Bartle diligently caught up with her homework for my first lecture:Judge Harvey Bartle III L 65

In Cape Town we transferred to the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel without a hitch. This hotel was opened in 1899 but was immediately requisitioned by the British as campaign HQ for the Second Boer war; Winston Churchill declared it to be “a most excellent and well appointed establishment.” First thing next morning we headed straight up Table Mountain by cable car and shared a magnificent view with dassies, cute creatures of the rocks:dassies

Also found at the summit was a letter box from the reign of King Edward VII (ruled 1901-10):letter box

Such a flood of discoveries encouraged the Penn Alumni group to pose for its first collective picture. The weather was one moment cloudy, the next moment clear; here we seem to find some Scotch mist:Group

At the foot of Signal Hill, en route to the waterfront, we passed through Bo-Kaap, home to Cape Town’s Muslim community. The bright colours here contrast with the raw holes in the ground left in District Six, when in 1960 the homes of Cape Town blacks were razed, and their inhabitants forcibly removed.Bo-Kaap

Such reflections stayed with us as we crossed by boat (40 minutes) from Cape Town to Robben Island, site of imprisonment for Nelson Mandela and many other male anti-apartheid campaigners. The natural setting was beautiful, but the history grim. We first saw the small house where Robert Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress, was was held in solitary confinement. The smaller buildings to the right are actually dog kennels, and they are bigger in size than the average Robben Island cell:Robben Island

We next saw the lime pits where prisoners such as Mandela were set to work for eight hours a day. The work had no practical purpose but bad side effects, as the dust affected breathing and eye-sight; Mandela was sensitive, in later years, to flash photography.lime pits

At the main prison block we had the great good fortune to meet with Itumeleng Makwele, who had himself been a prisoner in that very place.Itumeleng Makwele

Itumeleng told how the regime tried to break prisoner solidarity by issuing identity cards (in prison!), with each man graded A, B, C, or D, and incentivized to ‘improve’ his status by compliant behavior. The prisoners countered this by organizing a hunger strike. Itumeleng, a cook, was obliged to take food to each prisoner, and then to bring it back uneaten.identity cards

Next day we headed south from Cape Town towards Cape Point, stopping en route at Boulders, home to African penguins:African penguins

Hundreds of pictures were taken, and everyone has their prize exhibit:


We then headed further south, to Cape Point, the southernmost point of Africa, viewed here from a lighthouse built in Greenwich, London, in 1857:Cape Point

This is where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, and where water temperature to the east becomes, after just a few miles, noticeably warmer than the temperature to the west. At the Cape of Good Hope itself we posed for a collective group picture, and I was able to censor an attempt by the USC (CA branch) to smuggle in their banner:Cape of Good Hope

We then headed to Steenburg Vineyards, pausing only to acknowledge a soulful baboon posing in the top of a small tree:baboon

These vineyards in the Constantia valley are surrounded by mountains on three sides and the sea on a fourth, providing a distinctive micro-environment for viniculture:Constantia valley

The Penn alums then conducted intensive research on a long flight of wines; the Nebbiolo won by a short nose:wines

Next day we caught an early flight to Kasane, Botswana, and then headed out on water to complete the most relaxed, chilled-out immigration procedures ever as we headed from Botswana (on one bank of the Zambesi) to Namibia (on the other). This pointer to Immigration tells us that we are a long way from JFK:Immigration

On first arriving at the immigration post we found nobody at home at all: just a friendly yellow dog. Eventually a lady with her baby came out to stamp our passports, and we headed back down the dirt track to find our boat for the next few nights, the Zambesi Queen:dirt track

The Zambesi Queen has something of the look of a Mississippi riverboat as it glides gently along. The cabins are spacious, and everything is set up beautifully for spotting the endless parade of wildlife and exotic birds:Zambesi Queen

At this point in our journey the mood changed and relaxed somewhat. In my first lecture I had contrasted Nadine Gordimer as a Johannesburg writer to J.M. Coetzee as a Cape Town writer, and we had considered Gordimer’s last novel No Time Like the Present as, in part, a gently satirical commentary on Coetzee’s decision to abandon South Africa for Australia. Our experience of each city helped us to understand the tensions explored in this her last novel, written in her late eighties. On board the Queen, however, we considered the more relaxed topic of Botswana as an African success story. The alums were so relaxed that before my lecture the ladies disappeared behind the screen of my Powerpoint, onto the rear deck, to celebrate the buying of new jewellery with a collective photograph. Once returned, however, they responded with comments as sharp and incisive as ever. I was able to enter into this newly relaxed mood on returning to my cabin, with its own outside balcony. This must rate as my best workplace ever; sunsets were Cecil B. de Spectacular:sunset

From the first, next day, birds and animals began presenting themselves in ever more spectacular postures:bird

We travelled both by the Queen and in smaller vessels that enabled us to nose our way into private parts of the river. Here we approach hippo parents with baby:Hippo

And here we realize, just in time, that Daddy Hippo is giving us the eye– by way of saying, back off:Hippo2

A carmine bee-eater appeared on one bank, and an African fish eagle on the other:eagle


We switched to smaller craft to cruise the Chobe river, and to visit Kasenu village. Some sixty people live here, all from one family. In earlier generations the elders would select a marriage partner from a neighboring village, but nowadays the young people are free to choose for themselves. Trees are of great importance here: we saw an aphrodisiac tree, an abortion tree, and a tree to shade the chief of the village. We also saw a TV satellite dish: the African Cup of Nations soccer competition was being followed everywhere during our trip.Kasenu village

Victor, grandson of the chief, explained how things work to Lise and Tom Elkind (C 73):grandson

We set out on further wildlife adventuring, and I decided that for me nothing is more exciting and moving than seeing long lines of elephants on their slow and stately way, like a people of the plains:elephants

It was also wonderful to see them come down to the water, and to water themselves, and then frolic and play. They arrive grey, get black when wet, then throw mud over themselves:Elephants2

One fears for the little ones, of course, because not every creature at the water’s edge is a benign herbivore:Croc

Our last night on the Zambesi Queen opened with a locally-produced feast, and the singing of the Namibian national anthem:anthem

The capo Wayne is South African, but all the rest of the crew is Namibian. The company sent Wayne’s deputy, John, a Namibian local, to study for his pilot’s license, and he is set to succeed Wayne shortly. The crew work one week on, one week off, and seem happy with their life and work. They initiated some round-the-table dancing towards the end of the evening, and then persuaded some distinguished Penn alums to join them. Photos are available from me, by private application and for a large

Early next day we left the Zambesi Queen and Namibia for a game drive in Chobe National Park, Botswana. It was now Friday 13th February, but all went well– and by now, we had quite lost track of days of the week. In fact, the absence of wifi on the Queen was one of its more relaxing aspects, coupled with its gently swaying up and down the river on its mooring at night. Most of us had taken malaria pills, but insects were never a serious issue, and the hardy Tina (who took no pills) simply doused herself with insect-repellent lotion and slept with her balcony door open– so that she could hear the amorous bellowings of hippos by night.

We first thought that a dry game drive might be an anti-climax after our animal sightings by water, but this was not the case: we saw some animals, such as elephants, from different perspectives and some from much closer quarters than before. Giraffes, for example:Giraffes

When elephants blocked the way of our safari buggy, we graciously gave way– you can see that the camera work here was a tad shaky:Elephant3

Impala, unlike mad dogs and Englishmen, had the sense to hide from the mid-day sun:Impala

Finally we caught up with our bus and our luggage, decanted ourselves inside, and then headed for the Zimbabwe border. This, we thought, might be our trickiest transfer, and there was indeed quite a long tail-back of lorries and busses at the border. But we sailed to the front of the line, and were through very quickly (although the wait seemed long). We were briefed to put on our seat belts, and to take no pictures of any police stopping points that we might see. But we were never stopped, and were soon heading deep into Zimbabwe. Our driver made the correct right turn at just the right moment:Zambia

The Victoria Falls Hotel, set in extensive grounds, turned out to be yet one more glorious monument to English colonial style, c. 1900-1930:English colonial

The mosquito net in my bedroom was not needed, but it added an exotic touch; warthogs and monkeys could be seen frolicking on the lawn below:bedroom

Valentine’s Day saw us heading out to the vast body of water, a mile across, a million gallons a second, known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya (but renamed Victoria Falls by Dr David Livingstone in 1855). Vellon Phiri, our local Zimbabwean guide, was happy to give us pronunciation lessons, and then to pose beneath Livingstone’s massive statue:Vellon Phiri

Equipped with poncho style black raingear, like a strange order of monks, we processed to the Falls:VictoriaFalls

Spray from the thunderous falls, which can be seen from far away, has created a tropical micro-climate in which delicate plants flourish:Plant

Veterinarians Judy Shekmar and Steve Cantner (V 76), who have owned and run the Bryn Mawr Veterinary Hospital for more than thirty years, went ape went spotting vervet monkeys by the Falls:Judy ShekmaSteve Cantner

Before leaving the Falls the Penn alums posed in their wetgear for one last photo; the banner here is held by Judy Shekmar and Betsy Kleeblatt (CW 68):


Before returning to the hotel we stopped off at a local market. Traders were never forceful, but they were keen to relieve us of our cash and, failing that, of our socks and hats. There are reports of one visitor returning to the hotel almost naked, with a bag full of wooden bowls and statutes. I held onto my Alumni cap but, next day, donated my Phillies cap– perhaps someone else wearing it will bring us better luck:local market

Back at the hotel the Penn group scrubbed up nice and presented itself for our Penn alumni wine reception:winereception

This convivial drinks party immediately preceded Roberto Delgado’s second lecture on bio-diversity in the region, and on what we can all do to help protect the environment. Clear-cutting to produce Palm Oil leads to extensive deforestation of virgin rain forest, he told us, so Honey Nut Cheerios and Dove soap are now off the menu. Finally, the day ended with (another) sumptuous dinner. Next day the group flew from Victoria Falls airport to Johannesburg, and from there we went our separate ways. The main group of alums headed to the MalaMala game reserve, and I flew back to London to continue my sabbatical. The birdlife that I have found here so far has been far from exotic:pigeon

But I am warmed by the memory of the wonderful friendships so quickly formed among our intrepid group of sixteen. And I realize that in a sense your life can be divided between the time before you saw elephants, moving majestically across their natural terrain, and after that moment. And happily, like elephants, we will never forget.


To learn more about Penn Alumni Travel visit our website at: .

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Programming, Alumnni Education, Faculty perspective, Janell W., Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

By: Carolyn Grace, C’16


I’m finally back on the blog, Quakers!  And boy, does it feel good.

For those of you who don’t remember, I spent last semester studying abroad in Paris through Reid Hall, a joint program between Columbia and Penn.  I took classes in History, Cinema Studies, and French (le duh) at both this international school and at the Sorbonne.  But like all study abroad programs, my adventure in Paris was not only comprised of studying!

Living with a host family, getting lost in art museums, sipping cappuccinos in cafés, catching the last metro home after a long night out, sprawling out on the grass in a luscious garden, exploring boutiques on streets big and small, this was over half of my education abroad.  And these are just a handful of the activities I did in Paris alone!

If you’re interested in knowing more about my adventures, check out the blog I kept last semester: For the Love of Paris.  You’ll find photos, videos, songs, and most importantly musings of my time in Europe.

But that semester has come and gone, and I admit that for all the fun I had overseas, I am incredibly happy to be back on Penn’s campus.  I missed my friends, my classes, and my activities.  I missed being a part of a thriving campus culture that, although stressful at times, encouraged me to be proactive.

So I’m back in the swing of things, but with a bit more gusto than last year!  I’m singing with Counterparts and sitting on the board as Alumni Relations Officer, I’m helping run Sigma Kappa as Vice President, I’m writing for 34th Street and Penn Appétit, and I’m beginning to conduct research for my Senior Honors Thesis for my History major.

Don’t worry, there will be future blog posts where I’ll delve deeper into these topics!  Just know for now that I’ve hit the ground running this second semester of my junior year, and I’m glad to have that academic cardio in my life again.

Leave a comment

Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Carolyn G., Clubs, Student Perspective, The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Get Involved with your Reunion

By: Nicole Oddo

Happy 2015! I’m excited to be celebrating my 10th Reunion this May 15th – 17th.

But I decided that I want to do more than celebrate – I want to help make our 10th Reunion memorable.  I decided to get involved and I’m inviting my classmates and fellow alumni to think about it too.

Our lives are busy – work, family, friends, weddings, and other commitments will quickly fill our 2015 calendar but I always want to carve out time to reconnect with Penn, see great lifelong friends, and meet more of our amazing classmates.  I helped on the 5th Reunion and met a whole group of new classmates.  I made wonderful friends at Penn and continue to meet interesting, engaging people through Penn.  I’m meeting new people with amazing creativity and interesting lives already as we gear up for May.

One of my favorite quotes is from author Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Or the other day, I saw something particularly funny and relevant on Pinterest although I don’t know where it originated.

“No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they had plenty of sleep.”


We all have limited time but can always use more fun, rewarding opportunities.  Please consider how you can contribute to your class.  There are so many ways to help – from writing emails to planning event logistics to helping host alumni in your city.

Want to get involved?  Email me.

Nicole Oddo,C’05
Reunion Committee Co-Chair

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Search for the Best Breakfast Sandwich on Campus

By: Rachel S.

There’s nothing better than eggs in the morning. When those eggs come on softly toasted bread with cheese and other accoutrements, I personally feel that there is no better meal at any time of the day. I’ve recently begun a search for the best egg sandwich in the Penn area, with my first expedition shown below:

sandwichLyn’s: a longtime Penn-favorite for breakfast sandwiches, this beauty is a spinach, egg, and cheese on wheat bread with sriacha hot sauce and ketchup. The egg was fluffy, the cheese melty and gooey, and the bread lightly toasted. It will be hard to top this one! I’ll be posting updates on my egg-sandwich adventure each month.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Thousand and One Nights at the Circus

By: Noelle M.

This semester is my second semester acting as Technical Director for iNtuitons Experimental Theater Company! Our show this semester is called One Thousand and One Nights at the Circus. We are collaborating with Stimulus Children’s Theater. This collaboration is especially exciting for me because my roommate Ashleigh is on board of Stimulus Children’s Theater. We are also Co-Costumes Designing.

This show is really spectacular. It is a child friendly adaptation of Arabian Nights, with one small twist… The entire show is set in a circus! The circus performers are also the main characters in the Arabian Nights’ stories. We are also hoping to transform the Harold Prince theater into a 3 ring circus!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Penn Alumni Regional Clubs Celebrate Ben Franklin’s Birthday

By: Colleen Blair

During the month of January, Penn Alumni Regional Clubs around the world gathered to celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s birthday. This year, in honor of Franklin’s 309th, the Regional Clubs team sent clubs “Ben-on-a-stick” kits to make their parties more festive, and encouraged clubs to enter their pictures in our first annual Ben’s Birthday Bash Photo Contest. Check out the winner and other highlights below!

Ben’s Birthday Bash Photo Contest Winner: San Diego

1 San Diego

The Penn Club of San Diego celebrated on January 17, Ben Franklin’s actual birthday, with a dinner and private tour at the Green Dragon Tavern and Museum in Carlsbad, CA. This stunning replica of Boston’s original Green Dragon Tavern, where revolutionaries met to plan the Revolution, was the perfect place to celebrate Ben Franklin!

San Antonio

2 San Antonio 2 San Antonio (3) 2 San Antonio (2)

Also on January 17, the Penn Alumni Club of San Antonio celebrated Ben Franklin’s Birthday in lively and traditional fashion at Youz Guyz Philly Cheesesteaks, the local shrine to South Philly cuisine and Big Five academics and athletics.  Fifteen alumnae and alumni were joined by family and friends, ranging in age from three to ninety-plus.  All guests enjoyed cheesesteaks, hoagies and other Philadelphia delicacies, topped off by the excellent cannoli and a lively game of Quizzo.


3 Boston1

The Penn Alumni Club of Boston, proud to be Franklin’s birthplace, celebrated on January 17 with a walking tour of the city that featured visits to the sites of Franklin’s homes and haunts in Colonial Boston. After the tour, club members capped off their celebration with cupcakes.

Guangzhou, China

4 China

Ben’s Birthday is a truly global celebration, as shown by members of the Penn Club of Guangzhou. Though located far from Philadelphia, these loyal alumni gathered for a buffet dinner, drinks, and merriment on January 23.


5 miami 2 5 Miami

In Florida, the Penn Club of Miami also celebrated with food and drink at Batch Gastropub. Ben even got his own birthday cake!

Metro NJ

6 Metro NJ

The Penn Club of Metro NJ got the party started early when they met on January 14 at the home of a proud alumnus. Food, drinks, cake and party games were enjoyed by all!

Long Island

7 LI bens 1 7 LI bens 2

Quakers with the Penn Club of Long Island celebrated on January 22 in style with a four course dinner with wine pairings at Ponte Mollo in Great Neck, NY.

A big thank you to all Alumni Clubs who raised a toast to dear old Ben in honor of his 309th Birthday!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Five things I love about Penn!

LOVE Statue

By: Kaila Brown

This month will be my 6 month anniversary of moving to Philadelphia and embarking on this crazy adventure! In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to list the top five things that I love about the University of Pennsylvania and my experience thus far.

Five: The LOVE statue

It’s cheesy, I know, but there is something about walking out of Sweeten every day and seeing the statue. My favorite is seeing families, prospective students, Philly tourists, couples, etc. take a picture with the big, bright, red letters. I have yet to do this, but it is definitely on my Penn bucket list.

Four: Locust Walk

I love the way that the path is lined with buildings and centers that look like houses, the way that the trees make it feel cozy. When it’s beautiful outside and students line Locust handing out flyers and advertising for the student groups and events, it feels like a scene right out of a movie. While some may try to avoid it the craziness of these moments, I love it.

Three: Insomnia Cookies

I had never heard of Insomnia Cookies until I came to Penn. I love to bake, but I don’t always have the time. I don’t know about you, but there is nothing I love more than hot cookies. Oh wait, yes there is; having hot cookies delivered to my door. During finals last semester, there was nothing better than being able to order some cookies with my friends to drown our finals sorrows.

Two: Sweeten House

Not only is the office itself beautiful, but so are the people inside of it. I had no idea what would be in store for me when I accepted this position. I had no idea that I would be in an office with some of the most genuine, funny, wonderful people. Working in Sweeten has been a true pleasure and it will always have a special place in my heart.

One: Penn GSE

There were two things that I was sure of when I chose to enroll into the Penn Graduate School of Education: classes would be hard and everyone would be brilliant. I was right. The classes are difficult, and I am continually blown away by my classmates. However, there is so much more that makes GSE an amazing place to be. The interactions and relationships that I have developed with faculty have been truly enriching. I have learned so much in the past couple of months in my classes and am continually excited to go to class each and every day!

I really could go on and on about Penn, and definitely about Philadelphia. There’s one thing that I know for sure, the University of Pennsylvania has stolen my heart! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized