Category Archives: Guest blogger

Penn Club of San Diego Goes South of the Border for Street Eats

By B. Bea Rajsombath, C’99, club president

There are a lot of great things about living in sunny San Diego, including over 70 miles of beautiful coastline, the nice Mediterranean climate, pockets of diverse neighborhoods with their own vibe, mountains or beaches within miles of each other, great restaurants and bars, its proximity to Tijuana, and so much more.

The Penn Club of San Diego works on creating events and activities that feature the neighborhood gems and life in San Diego; events any of our alumni can appreciate, whether they recently moved here or are returning natives.

In November 2013, the Club joined Turista Libre for a wine tour in Valle de Guadalupe. Based on that successful and fun adventure, we had requests to organize another event south of the border. As Turista Libre (TL) focuses on organizing tours highlighting the local aspects of Tijuana and surrounding areas, we worked with them to deliver another event for our alumni. Passports in hand on March 22, Penn alumni and friends met up with TL at San Ysidro, the last US stop before reaching Mexico, about 15 miles south of San Diego. We were joined by a few other TL guests to walk across the border to board a small school bus operated by TL to start our adventure tour: TJ Street Eats.

Penn Alumni and friends

Penn Alumni and friends

We started our day with a birria taco from a busy food truck stationed on a non-descript street by a Staples. It was simple, yet bursting with flavor. A cheese quesadilla was offered to our vegetarian guests. The tacos were so delicious most of us wanted more, but we were advised by TL to limit ourselves to the one because we had a number of stops to make. A few of us couldn’t hold out though and had to try a second taco.

A birria taco

A birria taco

Our second stop was at Kokopelli’s food truck, for black Harder ceviche de lenguado tostada. Our vegetarian guests feasted on grilled Portobello mushroom tacos. At this point, more guests were losing their willpower to hold off on just one item and explored some other offerings from Kokopelli’s. A few also ventured to try a seemingly, innocent pink-colored salsa…and suffered through the burning from a habanero-beet mixture. TL also offered up some Tecate beer for refreshments before we headed to our third stop.

A tostada

A tostada

Before we reached Tio Pepe, a wonderful bottle of tequila was shared. Some of us are still searching for the bottle on this side of the border. Tio Pepe is a neighborhood gem with plastic tables and chairs, friendly staff and a bustling lunch crowd. I would love to go back…if I can find my way there! Here, we sat down to enjoy Guadalajara-style torta ahogadas, a few rounds of Corona and some ventured off to order additional tacos. I don’t know where they found room.

Torta Ahogada

Torta Ahogada

After indulging ourselves, we still had two more stops! The next was at Tepoznieves, an artisan ice cream parlor with more than 100 flavors. Unfortunately, I was too busy sampling the flavors and enjoying my selection of three small scoops to capture any photos to share. On the way to our last stop, another bottle of tequila was brought you to be shared. Finally, we made it to Baja Craft Beers for a sampling of house brews. We essentially had the place to ourselves so early in the afternoon. The brewery had great space and a long list of local and international beers available.

Baja Craft Brewery

Baja Craft Brewery

Alas, our great little adventure came to an end by 5pm and TL returned us to the border to make our way back across to the US. We definitely enjoyed our TJ Street Eats tour and working with Turista Libre again. We already have requests to repeat both the wine tour and the TJ Street eats.

The Penn Club of San Diego and Turista Libre

The Penn Club of San Diego and Turista Libre

These are just a few of the activities and events the Penn Club of San Diego organizes for local alumni in the greater San Diego area. If you are interested in learning about these and other events, please contact us via email, join our email listserv, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

Our next event is a yPenn Happy Hour on July 10th. We hope to see you there!



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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, Food Fiends, GAN, Guest blogger, Penn Clubs, Photos

Seattle Alumni Put on Aprons for an Evening to Help Alleviate Poverty

By: Haley Shapley, C’06

Thanks to a little help from the Penn Club of Seattle, at least one person will be able to transition from the streets to a job in the hospitality industry.

It was all part of Guest Chef Night at FareStart, a culinary job training and placement program for homeless individuals in Seattle. Since 1992, FareStart has provided opportunities for nearly 7,000 people to transform their lives, while also serving more than 6 million meals to disadvantaged men, women, and children.

The tables are set for FareStart's Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

The tables are set for FareStart’s Guest Chef Night, with Penn Alumni Club of Seattle members as guest servers.

Each Thursday evening, prominent guest chefs come to work with the students as part of their 16-week food-service program. The three-course meal is served by volunteers, which is where Penn alumni came in.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening's menu.

Chef Sam Hassan explains the evening’s menu.

Although none in the group had any restaurant experience to speak of, on April 24 we got a crash course in the art of serving, learning the importance of checking back within two bites, refilling waters regularly (and not touching the rim of the glass!), and how to properly carry a tray. Chef Sam Hassan of Maple Falls Cafe provided a tasting of the Mandioca Frita, NW by SE Pasta, and Mango Raspberry Cobbler beforehand so that we’d be able to answer questions about the ingredients when guests inquired (Just what is yuca? Ask us; we know!).

The featured servers tonight - the Penn Club of Seattle!

The featured servers tonight – the Penn Club of Seattle!

Penn Alumni getting trained

Penn Alumni getting trained

Six hours, countless pitchers of water, and a few cramped fingers later, we’d served 169 diners, raising a total of $7,116 for FareStart’s training programs, including donations of $181 and tips of $1,327. All in all, it’s more than enough to give one student safe housing, the full 16-week culinary program, and comprehensive wrap-around services.

It's a full house.

It’s a full house.

The program has a 90 percent job placement rate within three months for students after graduation, and each Guest Chef Night includes a graduation ceremony with those who’ve completed the 16-week program successfully. On our night, we watched two grads get ready to move on to the next stage of their lives, including Tina, who didn’t miss a single day. “It’s made me stay focused instead of every day wondering what’s going to happen,” she said.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Rupi Sureshkumar, Maria Seredina, and David Blum watch the graduation festivities.

Bob, who moved to Seattle in July with a big plan that fell apart, was equally grateful. “I thank this program; it really rescued me,” he said. “I learned a lot and I appreciate it. This program is ingenious to solve the problem of homelessness and poverty.”

Bellies full of delectable ingredients like shaved Parmigiano, smoked fish, and Chantilly cream, we scattered into the night back to our respective homes — energized by the experience and humbled by the fact that we made a contribution, however small, to the students being able to have homes to return to as well.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.

Penn alumni enjoy a hard-earned meal at the end of the evening.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, GAN, Guest blogger, Penn Clubs, Photos, Volunteering

How Penn’s Research Inspires

By Robin Tauber Plonsker, C’86

On April 21, I will be running the Boston Marathon as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training (TNT). This will be my first time running the Boston Marathon (something I’ve always aspired to do), but not my first time running for TNT. I have been a supporter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ever since my husband Ted’s lymphoma diagnosis. Ted has been cancer-free eight years now, but my involvement with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has only grown. I started as a volunteer, have run several marathons for TNT, and am now an employee, thrilled to be working to support a mission so personally meaningful to me. It also gives me a chance to see firsthand the amazing breakthroughs being made right now in blood cancer research–research that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is funding.

In fact, one of the most exciting research breakthroughs is happening right here at Penn. A team led by Carl June, MD, has developed a new treatment for leukemia that involves genetically engineering patients’ own immune cells to seek out, target and kill cancer cells. This new therapy has been tested in leukemia patients for whom all other treatments had failed. The results of the study have been nothing short of astounding, with the majority of patients–including children with the most common form of childhood cancer–achieving complete remission. This is research that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society recognized as promising and worthy of support as far back as 1992, long before it achieved the success it is having today. In fact, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has committed $20 million to this research over these past 12 years, including a current $6 million grant.


This remarkable new treatment developed at Penn is now being tested in other types of blood cancers and is a bright ray of hope for those battling these diseases. But there is more work to be done. There are more than a million Americans living with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. Many are still desperately in need of cures. I am running the Boston Marathon to help raise the funds needed to find those cures. If you would like to help by making a donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please click on this link to my fundraising page:

Every donation helps accelerate finding cures for blood cancer patients. On their behalf and mine, thank you.

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Penn Alumni Club Joins Alumni Band for a Memorable Ben’s Birthday Bash

By Robin Tauber Plonsker, C’86

On January 25th, the Penn Alumni Club of Westchester & Rockland Counties teamed up with The Velcrows band, which counts 3 Penn alumni among its members, for food, drinks and rock ‘n roll in celebration of Ben Franklin’s 308th birthday.

The Velcrows

The Velcrows, featuring Randi Nielsen, W’84, (vocals), Mike Rosenman, C’76, (drums), and Rob Birkenholz, ME’82, (guitar)

I met Randi Neilsen, W’84, at Homecoming this past fall and learned that she and her husband, Robert Birkenholz, ME’82, as well as alum Mike Rosenman, C’76, have a band and perform at venues in Westchester. Randi and Rob met and formed a band while they were students at Penn. Happily, the couple and the band are still together. We thought it would be fun to tie a Club event into one of their gigs. It turned out the timing was perfect for Ben’s Birthday Bash, our annual event celebrating Ben Franklin’s birthday.

Combining our event with The Velcrows’ performance was a hit. We started the evening with food, drinks, and conversation, sang happy birthday to Ben, and then rocked to great tunes sung by Randi and Rob backed up by their awesome band. A great time was had by all!

A Happy Penn Crowd

An excited Penn crowd, celebrating Ben with the Velcrows

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Ben Franklin, Ben's Birthday Bash, Guest blogger

“We will find a way or we will make one!”

Author: Lisa Ellen Niver, C’89

Do you ever wonder how you will make your dreams come true? I find inspiration from the gate at the University: We will find a way or we will make one. In December 2012 on the beach in India, I said I think we should have a contest on our website, We Said Go Travel. George said, “Great! Let’s start in January and end on February 14.” Immediately I had several objections. I could not possibly be ready so fast to run a writing contest.
We were in Konark, India at the Sand Art Festival near the UNESCO Sun Temple. I was musing that 30 years ago when the festival began, someone probably said: “Sand Art Festival! You must be nuts!” But here we were, thirty years later and it was a large festival with many international sand artists!

In January 2014, we began our fourth travel-writing contest. (Travel Writing Contest:

Over the course of 2013, over five hundred writers from over fifty countries entered our contest. It was truly fantastic! I love all the stories and getting to email with people from all over our planet. We hope you will choose to join us by sharing a story or reading one from someone else! We did our first live announcement of the winners for our contest on google hangout on air.

WSGT gratitude 2013 google hangout (2)

Watch the hangout:

See the winners:

We had some technical issues and had to link one judge in by skype but it worked. We found a way to make it work! I learned many life lessons at the University of Pennsylvania but the message from the gate always rings in my head: “We will find a way or we will make one!”

I remember the contest really took off when I wrote to our friend, Richard Bangs from the PBS Travel Show, “Adventure with Purpose,” who offered to be a judge.  Sometimes all you need to do is offer to participate: by joining in a contest, being the judge or simply showing up. I was honored in October 2013 to share our travel knowledge in a webinar for the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Travel. George and I talked about our journey for 27 days in Myanmar (Burma). We were invited to participate and we said YES!

I hope that you make your resolutions for 2014 come true by taking a first step! I would love to hear about your progress.




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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Profile, Guest blogger, Lisa Ellen Niver, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Penn Serves LA: Holidays are a Time for Giving

By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16

Holidays are a time for giving, and also for giving back. Fourteen years ago a man named Tom Bagamane and his sister decided to pack forty grocery bags and hand them out to homeless people they saw near home and work. The weekend of December 12 – 15, 2013, volunteers with The Giving Spirit headed to all parts of Los Angeles and handed full duffle bags to 2,600 homeless people. The bags were not dropped off in parks or near shelters, rather The Giving Spirit volunteers found isolated people and interacted with them in the process of handing over a bag filled with fresh and canned food, socks, hats, rain gear, toiletries and the like, along with an industrial strength blanket.

Giving Spirit group Dec.13.2013

On the Friday night of that weekend, over fifty Penn Serves LA volunteers of all ages congregated at a church in West LA to help to make greeting cards and pack Tupperware and ziplocks with necessities for The Giving Spirit’s bags. As Mr. Bagamane told the Penn crowd, The Giving Spirit knows it cannot cure homelessness, but it hopes to make the holidays and the coldest part of winter just a little easier for “our friends living on the street.” He asked the Penn alumni how it would feel to never hear your name spoken or to line up with your kids just to have a roof over your head for a few hours.

Giving Spirit 1 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 2 Dec.13.2013

The Penn group pitched in for a few hours – some hauling heavy boxes, some joining the assembly lines, some binding blankets. It was a cold night, but we had lots of company and warm food provided by local restaurants…and we were reminded yet again how very lucky we are not to live in a tent or a box on the street. After a fulfilling and collegial evening, our Penn alumni headed back to their cars and homes, and over the Penn shirts they had donned many wore The Giving Spirit t-shirt emblazoned with, “GIVE HOPE LOVE”…and that’s what the holidays are all about!

Giving Spirit 4 Dec.13.2013

Giving Spirit 3 Dec.13.2013

All alumni, Penn parents, families and their children are invited to the next Penn Serves LA event on Sunday, February 23, 2014, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at One to One Outreach. Back by popular demand, we will return to assemble and deliver boxes of food to the low income, food-insecure of South Central Los Angeles. Children over 8 years are invited to attend. Bring a bit of joy and relief to those in need with us. Click here to sign up for this event.

About Penn Serves LA – Started in 2012, Penn Serves offers a way for direct community service for local Penn alumni and their children to serve Los Angeles’ most needy populations. We partner with established nonprofits and grassroots organizations for one-time volunteer opportunities. So far, we’ve served meals to the homeless, delivered food to low income families, planned activities with immigrant children, and so much more. Please contact us if you’d like to help at a future event via email at or visit our website.

Read about our past events:

November, 2013 – Sending Holiday Warmth to our Troops

August and September, 2013 – Serving the Environment and LA Leadership Academy

May, 2013 – One on One Outreach

March, 2013 – Habitat for Humanity

January, 2013 – Inner City Arts

September, 2012 – The Midnight Mission

June, 2012 – Turning Point Shelter


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Filed under Alumni Programming, Guest blogger, Los Angeles, Penn Clubs, Penn Serves LA, Photos, Volunteering, West Coast Regional Office

Penn Cares with the Penn Club of Northern California – Habitat for Humanity

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

Donning hard hats at 8:30AM on a chilly and grey Saturday morning, volunteers from the Penn Club of Northern California joined in on ground-breaking work with Habitat for Humanity of Greater San Francisco. The work was more physically challenging than usual because we were doing foundation work, that is, a lot of shoveling, waterproofing, wheelbarrowing, and moving dirt around. Despite the difficulties, it was very gratifying getting in on a project from the very beginning: Habitat had just received permits for a 28-unit single family development named Habitat Terrace, an ambitious project in the Oceanview neighborhood and the organization’s largest development yet in San Francisco.

NoCal Penn Cares 2 - 1

We are proud to contribute to Habitat’s mission to provide a helping hand to families in need of improved living conditions. The homes that we helped lay the foundations for will be sold to families at no profit and financed with 0% interest mortgages. In addition, new owners will put 500 hours of work into their own homes. It will take over 100,000 volunteer hours to finish this Habitat Terrace development in the next 2 years, and the Penn Club of Northern California is looking forward to seeing the project through. Thank you to all our volunteers on August 17th, and if you live in the area, please join us in serving our community!

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 2

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 3

NorCal Penn Cares 2 - 4

Read about our experience helping at the San Francisco Food Bank here.

Read about Penn Serves LA helping at Habitat for Humanity here.

The Penn Softball team volunteered at Habitat for Humanity in New Jersey last year – here’s the link to a story and video about their experience.

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

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

Bus People

Author: Howard S. Freedlander, C’67

Ever drive into a fast-food restaurant or any other highway restaurant, see a tour bus, express disgust to yourself or a passenger and simply choose another place to eat quickly?

Ever visit a sightseeing spot, see a tour bus or buses and, again, shrug and express a word or two of pique and impatience and then endure the ensuing onslaught of camera-carrying, earnest and chattering masses?

My guess is that your answers to these mostly rhetorical questions are “yes” and “yes.”

Well, folks, for 10 days on a Penn-sponsored tour of the southwest national parks, my wife Liz and I, along with 22 other people, were “bus people.” Never thought I would claim that distinction. It was okay, and fitting.

On an incredibly fascinating tour of the parks, joined by alumni of Smith College, Case Western, Temple and the University of North Carolina, my wife and I became certified tourists, carrying cameras and intense desire to grasp the geological marvels facing us every day of our trip.

As we stopped for lunch and potty breaks (nearly all of us in our 60s and 70s) in places such as Mt. Carmel Junction, UT, St. George’s, UT and Richfield, UT, we crowded (sort of) fast-food emporiums and gift shops (also known as trading posts). In nearly all cases, the proprietors and their employees were very pleased, naturally, and other customers seemed mildly disinterested. I was particularly amused when we stopped at Mt. Carmel Junction on our way from Bryce National Park to Zion National Park, and three tour buses, including ours, arrived at the same time.

I recall on a visit to the Scottish Highlands in 1998 with our British friends, my friend Richard used an unfavorable expression when we saw a tour bus arrive at the same scenic location as we did. We laughed and derided these bus-borne tourists. In Utah and Arizona, my wife and I fit my friend’s description, happily so.

When we arrived at Arches National Park in southeast Utah, I must have seen three tour buses and heard voices representing France, China and perhaps others. Bus people. And so were we all as we crowded paths and walkways to see, touch and photograph the arches and then exclaim and chatter, incessantly.

Who were the otherwise faceless tourists in our group? Two were Penn grads, a medical doctor in Philadelphia and the other an attorney in Cleveland. One was a military psychiatrist. One was a public relations executive in Connecticut. One was a neurological radiologist in California. One was a longtime staffer to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. One has run thrift shops in Philadelphia. One was a plumber in Philadelphia. One was a mentor to Penn students in the Graduate School of Education as they interned in area schools. One was a development director at a marine science lab in Maryland. One was a retired deputy treasurer in Maryland.

So, maybe, my tolerance for “bus people” has taken a turn for the better. Maybe, just maybe, they are like my wife and me. They chose a form of tourist travel that allows you to see many unbelievable and awesome sights in the comfort of a bus, allowing all decisions and logistical decisions made by others. I didn’t even have to carry my own luggage during the trip, except from my room to the front door of the room for a “bag pull”—that is, transfer of our luggage to the bus. On the morning we left Las Vegas to go to the airport to return home, I insisted, over the objections of the private car carrier’s driver, to carry my own luggage just to reenter the real world.

Ever heard of “scatter lunches?’

The phrase was new to me. Periodically, our group—smaller than most—would stop at a shopping center (yes, we had to travel between natural wonders), a man-made, utilitarian creation, for lunch. We could choose among several ubiquitous fast-food restaurants, spending an hour before reporting promptly to the bus. Remember we “bus people” had schedules—and dare you not to abide by instructions from a very competent, cheerful and well-meaning tour director. Our schedule of stops—Grand Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Glen Canyon Dam, Antelope Slot Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Bryce National Park and Zion National Park—was full and fulfilling.

What did it feel like being a “bus person,” touring the southwest national parks in an organized, structured way?

It was an extraordinary experience. For many of us on the East Coast, we have looked to the east, to Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa for vacation and education. Perhaps we have overlooked our own natural wonders. That seemed to be the prevailing sentiment among our well-traveled group members. It was time to see our own country—by way of a bus.

We went from the awful (Las Vegas), our starting and ending point, to the awesome (Grand Canyon) in rather short order. Just like that, we transcended the glitter and gloss for geological formations that strained your imagination. We immersed ourselves in Navajo culture and history, paying due reverence to movie icon John Wayne, who starred in many John Ford-directed movies shot in the Navajo desert. We visited Monument Valley, finding it haunting and mystical; we visited Arches National Park, marveling at the geological creations formed over millions of years; we visited Bryce National Park with its beautiful, fractured cliffs, finding a different viewpoint every time you shot a digital photo; and then, finally we visited Zion National Park, serene and accessible to park visitors, who could touch wet cliffs with hanging plants and walk along the calm Virgin River.

So, we were certifiable “bus people” who ate “scatter lunches,” talked about children and grandchildren, discussed past and current jobs—and shared rather personal information. I found that people, away from familiar surroundings, shared intimate details about family matters. A close bond materialized, albeit briefly. What is said on the bus, stays on the bus, I guess.

Would my wife and I join another organized tour again, transforming ourselves into obedient “bus people,” for whom all decisions are made and rarely, if ever, do you carry your own luggage? Yes, we would do it again, gladly so, possibly in a foreign locale. We have experienced the joy of not worrying about logistical details, of not negotiating with hotels and car rental agencies, not having to figure out itineraries—and not carrying our own luggage, until we go home and return to reality.

We no longer will sneer at tour buses, as they pour lots of people into a local fast-foot restaurant. We will welcome visitors and tourists who may at time look unsure of their surroundings. We will appreciate the different voices and accents. After all, we “bus people” are brethren.

Ultimately, the view was worth the bus ride.

Ultimately, the view was worth the bus ride.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Guest blogger, Penn Alumni Travel, Travel

Calling All Quakers!

Authors:  Zack Seigel, C’14, and Taryn Williams, C’14

As supervisors of the Red & Blue Call Center, we maintain a staff of about 80 Penn students who help grow the University’s culture of philanthropy – one phone call at a time. Throughout the year, we speak with alumni, friends, and students’ parents for both the undergraduate and graduate schools.  While the main objective of our calls is to raise funds for the schools, we also update contact information and make connections with alumni who often have great wisdom and stories to pass on to us as current students.

StuCall 1

Zack (right) celebrating winning caller of the month in October with fellow caller Charles!

The efforts made by the callers have definitely paid off throughout the years. We consistently surpass many of our goals and expectations thanks to generous alumni, parents and friends. We have been doing so well, in fact, that last year we raised over $2.5 million from over 14,000 donors. We reached this right before ending for the year, and everyone was excited. Obviously celebration was necessary, so we marked this milestone at the end of the year with this custom-made pretzel (thanks Penn)!

StuCall 2

While raising money for the school is the primary reason that many of us choose to work here, there are other reasons why we love this job. Every evening we play a game together – often Jeopardy or Family Feud – that motivates everyone in the center. Friendships are made during the downtime when nobody is answering the phones – and it’s always a bonus when Staci, our boss, bakes us cupcakes!

The Penn Fund visits to celebrate $1,000,000 raised!

The Penn Fund visits to celebrate $1,000,000 raised!

We celebrate all of our accomplishments here in the center and we often have visitors from the University come to show their appreciation.

When we surpassed 1 million dollars raised for undergraduate education, staff from The Penn Fund came to visit and presented us with a thank you plaque for our efforts. They also brought us these cool mugs to show their appreciation. By the end of the fiscal year, we had raised over 1.3 million dollars for undergraduate education through The Penn Fund.

We had a fantastic year and are expecting an even better year in 2014. Thanks for your support and don’t forget to say “hi” if we call you!

Taryn (left) with caller Michael thanking The Penn Fund for the AWESOME coffee mugs!

Taryn (left) with caller Michael thanking The Penn Fund for the AWESOME coffee mugs!


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Filed under Guest blogger, Philanthropy, Student Perspective, The Penn Fund