Category Archives: Alyssa D.

Behind the Scenes: Travel Destinations 2015

By: Alyssa D’Alconzo, Ed.D. GED’04, GRD ’11

On a snowy day earlier this month,

Snowy College Hall

so snowy it was hard to see the Button in front of Van Pelt,

Snowy Button

the Penn Alumni Travel team cozied up inside Sweeten House

Snowy Sweeten

with cappuccinos and lattes to set our travel destination list for 2015. (Yes, 2015! We have begun booking for 2014 and the full schedule is available at

photo 1

With all of the fabulous places to visit in the world, how did we determine where we’ll send our Penn alumni travelers and faculty hosts?

First, we gathered data. Throughout the fall semester we met with vendors to learn what new and exciting tours they’re offering. We also spent time poring over the feedback and insights we received from previous trips and our annual travel survey. Emilie created every chart and graph imaginable to help us better understand where Penn alumni and friends want to visit, when, for how long, and how!  For example, for 2015, we received a lot of interest in Italy and France, fall travel for 7-10 days, and land-based tours.

photo 2

Next we consulted available offerings to put together an interest list that covered all parts of the world, differed in lengths of trips, and offered land-based, ocean cruise, and river cruise options. We also routinely consulted the maps that hang in our offices to trace potential itineraries.

photo 3

And, of course, we thought about the expertise of our faculty hosts! Their full participation on tours, sharing lectures and expertise, is a big part of what makes Penn Alumni Travel trips so special.

After sleeping on our selections – and a bit more discussion – we think we’ve done it! We’ve created a destinations list sure to engage the most seasoned traveler, and we can’t wait to share it with you. To be one of the first to know when our 2015 schedule is released, join us on Facebook!


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Sneak Peek: Spring Alumni Education Events

Author: Alyssa D’Alconzo, GED ’04, GRD ’11

Warning: If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to think about Christmas before Thanksgiving, you may not like this post. Because although there are still some brightly colored leaves on the trees on College Green and the holiday lights haven’t been fully illuminated on Locust Walk, we are already preparing for spring in Alumni Education!

Ready for a sneak peek of future webinars and events? Read on!
[If not, you can visit us online whenever you’re ready at :)]

Office Hours:

Just as they do for current students, Penn Alumni Office Hours provide a forum to ask in-depth questions and explore points of interest with professors outside of the classroom. These live, interactive webinars offer an exclusive opportunity to engage in dialogue with Penn professors without leaving your home or office. Next semester, we are featuring four of Penn’s dynamic faculty members, who will focus on a topic or issue of their choice.

  • January 28, 2014 (Noon-1pm ET): Dr. Laura Perna, Professor of Higher Education, Graduate School of Education
  • February 19, 2014 (Noon-1pm ET): Dr. Sharonna Pearl, Assistant Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication
  • March 27, 2014 (Noon-1pm ET): Dr. Margo Brooks Carthon, Assistant Professor of Nursing, School of Nursing
  • April 10, 2014 (Noon-1pm ET): Dr. Mark Duggan, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, Professor of Health Care Management, Wharton School

Penn Alumni Travel Webinars:


You can also learn from Penn faculty members during our Alumni Travel Webinar Series! Upcoming presentations include “The Art and Culture of Cuba”, “The History of Vienna and Prague”, and more! For a full list and to register, visit

Penn to You:

Penn2You_logoPenn to You is designed to bring Penn alumni, parents, and friends together for an evening of intellectual and social engagement. More information about these events and those still yet to be scheduled will be online soon!

  • February 5, 2014: Atlanta
  • February 6, 2014: Miami
  • April 1, 2014: London

Alumni Weekend:

1989 Flag at Parade

And, of course, we’ll help with the panels and lectures that add to parade and picnic festivities at Alumni Weekend 2014!

  • May 16-19, 2014

Join us on Facebook for Penn Alumni Travel and Education updates! 

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New Kid on the Block

Author: Alyssa D’Alconzo, GED ’04, GRD ‘11

On October 1, I became the newest member of the Sweeten House family, moving into a third floor office and the role of Director of Alumni Education, Alumni Travel, & Career Networking.


Proof my title fits on a standard-size business card.

I was so excited that I even took a “first day of work” picture!


While I’m new to Alumni Relations, I’m not new to Penn.  I arrived on campus as a master’s student for the 2003-2004 academic year. After completing my M.S.Ed. in higher education and falling in love with Penn and Philadelphia, I took a job with the Penn Graduate School of Education. I continued my career at 3700 Walnut Street for last next 9 years, ultimately concluding my tenure there as the Director of Admissions & Financial Aid.

Along the way I earned a doctoral degree, also in higher education, during which my research focused on the information barrier to college access.


My dissertation joins other important works in my office bookcase.

When I’m not at work, you can find me exploring Philly and other cities around the world with family and friends, reading great books (To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite!), working out at CrossFit Center City,


and baking, writing, and taking photos for my travel and baking blog Suitcases & Sweets.

Many Suitcases & Sweets treats will end up at Sweeten House for sharing, so be sure to stop by for one the next time you’re on Locust Walk! I’d love to meet you and hear about your Penn experience and education, travel, and career networking needs. I’ll also be around all weekend at Homecoming (are you registered?!), in Cuba with Penn Alumni Travel in January (there are still a few spots left to join me!), and online through our webinar series.

Everyone at Sweeten House has been incredibly welcoming and open to collaborating, and I’m looking forward to a future filled with developing and implementing dynamic programming that connects you — our alumni and friends — with the intellectual and professional life of this great university.

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