Category Archives: Emily S.

In the Final Stretch

Author: Emily Siegel

Today marks the first day of finals for students.  Whether it’s cramming for a test or putting the final touches on a paper, or (let’s be honest), just starting it, this week marks a stressful time of year for them.  It has many of us here in the alumni office reflecting on our own college finals experiences and thinking about the crazy things we used to do to cope during this stressful time.

Food was the most obvious theme.  Everyone had memories of either junk food, delicious food, or lack of food during finals.  Drew, C’09, always started out her finals’ days by making the trek out to FroGro to stock up on, in her words, “an exuberant amount of snacks.”  Her favorites included Frosted Mini Wheats, fruit snacks, and granola bars.  Lex, C’07, opted for food of the delivery kind…preferably Greek Lady who would drop off directly to the library.  Casey, C’95, was lacking in food during finals…those were the years the library banned food and any attempt to bring it in was often foiled by the confiscating library ladies – it was tough being a student in the 90s!

Besides food, space seemed to be the other important factor in getting through finals.  While Drew and Lex opted for the library (Drew being a member of the “Rosenparty” and Lex preferring the 5th floor music section), like me, many others avoided the library altogether.

Casey was always on the quest for the perfect studying place, but after hours of searching, often returned home defeated; having still not studied.  Leigh-Ann preferred the floor in her apartment, opting to remain comfortable in her pajamas for as long as possible.  Mari, GSE ’12, our grad student, is a bit of a wanderer these days as she seeks out space. While the library has been a great refuge for a majority of the year, it is now everyone else’s preferred stomping grounds, making it much less appealing to her.  I preferred the camp of switching up space as often as possible, thinking it somehow kept my brain fresh.

And you can’t forget the distractions – no one can possibly study and write papers 24/7 without a little unwinding time!  Lynn, C’93, found refuge in the Shakespeare Garden just outside of Fisher Fine Arts (Furness Building).  With benches surrounded by trees and quotes of Shakespeare on the stepping stones, it was a very calming place and offered some solitude from the crowded library.  Leigh-Ann preferred to procrastinate from studying by cleaning her apartment with her roommates.  Her apartment was never as clean as it was during finals – everyone knows cleaning is way more fun than studying!  And then there’s Mari, who unwinds by reading celeb magazines, thinking about how much more glamorous that life would be than the one of a final’s student.

Our newest addition to the office, Liz, just might take the cake with distractions.  In addition to running outside of the library and doing jumping jacks and cartwheels, she would take frequent trips to the bathroom and make faces in the mirror attempting to make herself laugh.  After that, she’d slather on some suntan lotion and head back to her corner of the library, the scent reminding her that better days were ahead!

And that truly is the hope for our students today – that better days are ahead.  Until then, embrace finals!  Stays focused, well fed and hydrated, and remember to infuse some distractions into your day.  Finals don’t last forever; eventually you get a job and have different kinds of deadlines.



Filed under Academics, Emily S.

Adventures in Spain & Portugal

Author: Emily Siegel

I was recently one of the fortunate Penn Alumni Relations staff to accompany one of our Penn Alumni travel tours, Paradores & Pousadas: Historic Lodgings of Spain & Portugal.  It’s a bit daunting to think about what is blog-worthy, or for that matter, interesting to those who weren’t able to go on the trip with us.  Sure, I could post pictures and tell you about all the neat places we went, but that just won’t capture how special this trip truly was.  The dynamics of the group on this tour were just fantastic – everyone looked out for one another and took the time to get to know each and every one of their traveling companions.  The group became so tight, that by the third day of the tour it was declared that we would gather for happy hour every evening before our scheduled dinner.

When I returned home from our two-week extravaganza, I was reflecting on whether or not I’d be interested in doing this all again.  Sure, the easy answer is YES – who wouldn’t want to explore more of the world?  But truth be told, I hesitated a bit at first. The group of people on this tour made it the special tour that it was, and I’m just not sure I could ever re-create an experience as wonderful as the one we had.  But as cheesy as this may sound, I then remembered I’d be traveling with our Penn Alumni and friends, and I’m certain that it would again be its own uniquely special trip!

So, for those who want “the details” on where we went and what we saw, some pictures for you to enjoy.

We started off our trip in the vibrant city of Lisbon, Portugal.  We spent our days sight-seeing monuments, monasteries, and royal summer homes, and in the evenings we enjoyed delicious meals and even a Fado show!

After Lisbon, we were off to the small town of Monsaraz for a quick day trip.  The town only has a population of 150 – isn’t the cutest town you’ve ever seen?

Before we knew it, our time in Portugal was over and we were off to Spain.  First stop, Merida – a town with some of the most well-preserved Roman ruins.

Did I mention we had a group of alumni from Puerto Rico with us on this tour?  I didn’t?  Well, they were such a fun bunch, they deserve a pic!

One of my favorite sightseeing days in Spain was visiting Seville, where we had plenty of time to explore and soak up the architecture and culture.

While I loved Seville, Ronda was hands-down my favorite city that we visited in Spain.  We stayed at the top of a gorge, and I was lucky enough to find a friend on our tour who was just as interested in hiking and exploring as I was:

As I mentioned up above, our group was serious about their happy hours.

The final leg of our trip took us to Granada where we visited the famous Alhambra.

Before arriving at our final stop in Madrid, we popped into Toledo for an afternoon tour and we were able to catch a great shot of the city on our way out.

We ended our trip with a bang in Madrid where we spent our days exploring palaces, museums, and enjoying tapas in Plaza Mayor.

And of course, no Penn Alumni Travel trip is complete without a picture with our Penn Alumni banner:

Such a good looking group!  I would travel anywhere, anytime, with these folks again. And  if you’re interested in getting in on the fun, check out our upcoming Penn Alumni Travel Tours.

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Filed under Alumni Programming, Emily S., Events, Penn Alumni Travel, Photos, Travel

Falling for Fall

Author: Emily Siegel

I love fall. I love the changing colors and the crisp nights.  Not only that, but fall represents a new year of possibility.  Sure, technically the new year begins in January, but every September since I started kindergarten, the beginning of a school year has brought with it a tickling sense of possibility; the chance to start fresh.  First off, there’s the delight in new school supplies. Out with the worn-down crayons and colored pencils, and in with the pointy-sharp array of the latest trend in colors.  In anticipation, I practically spent all summer debating what design would my Trapper Keeper have this year… bunnies or hearts or horses!?!?!?  Oh, the possibilities!  SUCH. A. DILEMMA.   Most often, I picked horses.

And then, there’s also back to school shopping for clothes and imagining the first day of classes, showing up in a brand new outfit—new shoes, new haircut, new outlook. And the curiosity about my classes and schedule—what my teachers would be like, who I’d be sitting next to in English, if any of my friends would have lunch period with me.  Fall has always seemed like the time for the greatest potential. You don’t know exactly how the year will go, but the chance to start fresh feels like each September brings a new beginning.

One of the things I love most about working on a college campus is that this same anticipation is palatable at the start of every semester.  Right now, prospective students are flooding the campus, with wide-eyes as they learn about and explore the university, trying to picture what their life might look like if they end up studying at Penn.  The excitement in their eyes reminds me of my own college search as I explored different schools and pondered where I might spend those life-changing four years.

As current Penn students slowly trickle back to campus, you can sense their excitement about the upcoming year too – new classes, new friends, new opportunities. The feeling is infectious.

In fact, it’s so contagious that I found myself perusing Penn’s course catalog and dreaming about what class (or classes) I could take this year. Do I sign up for something practical and related to my career like “History of American Higher Education?” Or, do I refine my Spanish speaking-skills by taking “Advanced Conversation?” Or, do I choose something out-of-the-box like “Furniture Design” and learn how to make the ottoman that I’ve been searching for over the last year?  So many options!

I think it’s precisely this sense of the many possibilities that makes this season so exciting. I’d love to know how others are thinking and feeling about the back-to-school aura on campus.  What possibilities of the coming season are you most excited about? And, perhaps most importantly, what kind of Trapper Keeper did you choose?


Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Emily S.

Big Dade on Campus (BDOC)

Author: Emily Siegel

Each year high school students flood the campus in the summer months to determine if Penn might be a good college fit for them.  As a top-notch research university it comes as no surprise the campus receives thousands of visitors each year, but it appears that Penn’s popularity knows no boundaries.  In a first for the University, Penn has officially garnered interest from the canine persuasion as well!

In a recent visit, Daedelus (“Dade” for short) dropped in to learn more about this great place.  Not wanting to discriminate based on fur; we gave him the royal treatment, showing him all that Penn has to offer!

So, we took him to where it all started – Ben Franklin.  He seemed quite impressed.

Dade and Ben are Friends

And any visit to Penn isn’t complete without a stroll down Locust Walk.

The sun-dappled Locust Walk

He loved all of the artwork on campus, especially the LOVE Statue and Peace Sign.

Totally Peaceful


He was particularly impressed by the architecture of the campus buildings, noting the Castle as one of his favorites.

The Castle and Dade

He marveled when told about Penn’s impressive alumni community.  He really thought it was cool that Charles Addams, the creator of The Addams Family, went to Penn too.   Although he admits he was a little hesitant about being walked by Morticia.

Addams Family

Being Walked by One of the Hands on The Gates

After all that walking, he needed a break.


After the tour, he had a chance to sit down with Steve  from PAARC and have all of his questions answered.

Dade and Steve Discuss Dade's Future at Penn

We think it’s fair to say he seemed to really appreciate the special attention he was given during his visit. And we loved having him!


Filed under Campus Life, Emily S.

Beyond the Working Week…

Author: Emily Siegel

Every Monday morning, the Alumni Relations staff gathers for a quick meeting to brief everyone on the comings and goings of the upcoming week.  It’s a great time to get everyone on the same page, but truth be told, my favorite part of our pow-wow is when we all just begin to gather.  It’s fun to catch up and hear what everyone has been up to.  And let me tell you, the diversity of interests and talents in our small office continues to amaze me.  From a salsa dancer, to a jazz musician, to a bass fisher, to a marathon runner – it’s quite a talented group!  It sure makes a girl feel like she should get out there and try something too.  So, last winter, inspired by my co-workers, I joined The Savoy Company, the oldest amateur theater company in the world dedicated solely to performing Gilbert & Sullivan productions.

Since the theater has been a staple in Philly since 1901, I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn how many Penn connections were in the group.  Several members are Penn alumni, and there are least three Penn staff members in our current production. Our very own VP of Alumni Relations, Hoopes Wampler, even has a connection to Savoy – his dad and sister are past performers!

Each spring, Savoy performs one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 13 musicals.  This spring, we are performing Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri, the seventh of their collaborations.  Advertised as “An Entirely Original Fairy Opera,” Iolanthe recounts the conflict between the immortal fairies and the mortal peers.  Centered around the hero and heroine:  Strephon, a half-mortal whose mother is Iolanthe of the Fairy Court, and Phyllis, a ward of the Lord Chancellor of the English Court, who is unaware of Strephon’s fairy heritage, the opera lampoons both the English House of Lords and the idea of political parties in a bouncy and amiable manner that it is all received in good fun.

Having given an award-winning performance as “littlest girl” in last year’s production of Ruddigore (okay, maybe not award- winning), I was cast this year as a member of the fairy chorus, entitling me to a wand that lights up, sparkly silver shoes, and a lime green wig!  The staff of Penn Alumni Relations is always quite supportive of each other and our various interests, and true to form, a whole crew came out to see the show on opening night.  They even stuck around to see me in my costume:

See if you can guess which one I am...

After a great run at the Academy of Music, we’ve moved our set out to Longwood Gardens and are now preparing for our final weekend of performances.   It’s making for some long days and nights, but it’s all well worth it.  Now that the show is wrapping up, I’m excited to have time to support my Alumni Relations colleagues in their interests too…and who knows, maybe soon you’ll hear from our salsa dancer, jazz musician, bass fisher, or marathon runner!

P.S.  If you’re interested in seeing the show, there are still a few seats left for our June 10& 11 performances at Longwood Gardens. You can buy tickets at

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Filed under Emily S.

Working at Penn Can Be Tough on the Waist Line

Author: Emily Siegel

It’s 4 PM on a typical Tuesday afternoon.  I’ve managed to eat well all day.  I’ve faithfully ignored the candy dishes around the office that call my name as I pass by.  I’ve avoided diving into the homemade treats that seem to show up every day on our free-for-all counter.  Just a little bit longer and I can make it home to the safety of my temptation-free kitchen.  I look at my calendar and see that I have one last obstacle:  Finals Study Break with our PASS & Linking Legacies students.

I psych myself up to avoid whatever chocolaty-goodness this event is bound to throw my way.  In my head, I hear Bob and Jillian telling me to “focus on the people, not the food.”  But then they arrive.: a stack of four pizza boxes filled with warm, delicious cookies.  And not just any ordinary cookies…Insomnia CookiesBringing with them all of their straight-from-the-oven, gooey on the inside, and perfection on the outside wonderfulness.

My only hope now is that the students ordered four boxes of sugar cookies (not my favorite). Those,  I could easily ignore.  But no, they were filled with all of the favorites temptations:  chocolate chip, M&M, chocolate-chocolate, and peanut butter.  Obviously, my plan changes from ignoring them to having just one.  But who can do that?  If I have a chocolate chip cookie, I need to round it out with a peanut butter cookie.  But then my pallet misses the chocolate already and wants a sample of the M&M.  And then, before you know it, I go from eating no cookies, to devouring three of them in 10 minutes.

Luckily, I am never alone in this.  The students and other staff at the event are always right along with me.  And really, who can blame us for giving in when cookies look this good…

Good to the Last Crumb

This may be the cookie coma talking, but Insomnia Cookies might just be my favorite start-up by our Penn alumni yet!


Filed under Emily S., Food Fiends