Category Archives: Jorge Penado, C’19

The Penn Ten: Ten Lessons I Learned At Penn

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

 

  1. Aimlessly Walk Around Penn’s Campus: After years of our hard work of trying to get here, we can sometimes fail to live in the moment and soak in everything that Penn’s campus offers. We have the great fortune of attending a school that’s been around for nearly two hundred years that the nooks and crannies of this school are endless. Some of my best times were spent randomly walking around campus, initially to find that perfect study spot which I also recommend. But, walking around campus can come with various fun and exciting discoveries. Whether it’s the gargoyles perched on the Quad’s exterior or the graduate carousels in Fisher Fine Arts, there’s so much to find on this campus that it’s accumulated over years. Basically, what this lesson boils down to is that everyone should take a moment and realize that there’s so much around us that one can’t help but marvel at.
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  2. Take Your Free Time Out of Left Field: While this may seem like a setup for a baseball reference, it’s actually much more the slang version. Many times, Penn students think that our extracurriculars have to strictly do with our studies or future career aspirations. But, sometimes you just want to do something you never could have imagined. If for some reason I traveled back in time to tell my high school senior self that I would be playing drums and making student short films as a kid interested in politics, I would have thought he was crazy. But, four years later, I’m glad I did those things because, one, they were beyond fun and, two, the stories and experiences are priceless. How else would I have known the commitment of a drum injury?
  3. Go Beyond Your Usual SEPTA Stops: The first part of this lesson is basically to use SEPTA. Maybe because I’m from the South where we don’t really have fully-developed subway systems, I fell in love with SEPTA, but in all honesty, you can’t experience Philly without it. It’s the veins of the city. Going beyond 40th westbound or 2nd eastbound was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had because it felt like I wasn’t stuck in the “Penn Bubble.” Philly has so much to offer in every corner of the city whether it’s locally-owned restaurants in South Philly or the Ritz Theaters in Old City. As students in this city, we should do our part to explore beyond the main attractions, not to say that those aren’t amazing parts of Philly.

  4. Learn That Van Pelt Has The Extent of Human Knowledge: Alright, this might be a slight exaggeration, but the sentiment still remains. For some odd reason, I didn’t start using the library regularly until my Junior year, and boy was I missing out. Have you ever just walked through the aisles of Van Pelt? They have so much there to fill your time. From original Arabic manuscripts from the early Islamic periods to books on the role of satellite telecommunications during the Cold War, the diversity and extent of books in the library can sometimes become lost in the stress of our work. But, through my years, I’ve grown to appreciate the library for all its varied and helpful sources, and I encourage everyone to either begin to vehemently use those books or at least take a walk through the aisles to see what the production of academia around the world has produced.

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  5. Find Those People You Can Talk To: While everyone says this, I can’t emphasize how important it is to make friends who you can trust and enjoy being around. One of my favorite parts of college has been getting to meet people from around the world and from such diverse sets of backgrounds. Before Penn, I was surrounded by people from my community who were largely similar. College gave me the opportunity to meet people from so many countries and learn about them. College also gave me the opportunity to get to know people more than I’ve ever gotten to know anyone. After living around them and going to classes with them, it’s inevitable that you’ll get to know people in ways you possibly never expected. I think that this is one of the best things about Penn and will remain one of the best for years after I graduate from school.

  6. Engage With The World Around You: Okay, I might be biased with this one because I’m an International Relations major, but I definitely think that my time at Penn allowed me to learn more about everything that’s happening around me. College is one of the first times when people are forced to talk about their thoughts and opinions on the world. By the world, I mean everything from complicated US politics to the historic movements in countries like Algeria and Sudan. The beauty of this is that everyone has thoughts on these issues, not just those studying them, and can hopefully teach you something new. I’ve had some of the best conversations about world affairs with computer science majors and gene editing with criminology majors. College is the time to learn about your place in the world. Read the newspaper. Have a conversation. Know what’s happening around you as a global citizen.
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  7. Take The Time To Learn About Yourself: Your first thought may be, “What do you mean? I know who I am. I’m [insert name].” But, in the same vein as the previous lesson, I think college is the time to seriously learn about yourself. For many people, it’s the first time they’re not living at home and for many, it’s the first time moving far away. Four years ago, I moved over 1,550 miles and learned about myself in ways I could have never imagined. On an academic level, what kind of studier am I? What have been my favorite classes? Why? On a personal level, what kind of friend am I? How do I manage my time? What kind of things do I eat when no one’s telling me to eat healthily? So many things to learn about yourself with only four short years.

  8. Indulge In The Unusual & Particular: After seven lessons, it’s surprising how little I’ve spoken about academics. It’s what we’re here for in the first place! Though I came in knowing my general interests, I had absolutely no clue what subject matters I enjoyed the most. After spending my first two years taking intro courses and reading as much as I could, I began to realize that academia is filled with a bunch of people with specific interests that seem almost too narrow. But, the great thing about college is that nothing is too narrow to study. Everything that could possibly be studied has and will, so if there’s something that you enjoy, no matter how specific it seems, there’s room for it. As we try to balance majors for our long term goals with these interests, I definitely think there’s a way to do both, especially in these short years.

  9. Know That Everyone Is Just As Lost: When I first got to Penn, I can’t say that I wasn’t intimidated by the school and the people. In the beginning, I felt confused in every class, like an impostor in every seminar and beyond stressed for every test. On top of all of this, I thought I was the only one struggling. But, one of the most valuable things that I’ve learned at Penn is that everyone’s struggling in their own way. If Penn is a breeze for anyone, then more power to them, but I quickly realized that almost everyone questions whether they’re good enough. But, I learned that everyone has a place at Penn and that we should talk about it all. Penn became more enjoyable when I could speak to my friends about how stressful times can get. All of this is a normal part of college, and we shouldn’t fear being the only one going through it.
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  10. Be Aware That Penn Was Made For You To Succeed: After all of these lessons, the one thing that I leave Penn knowing, and hope that every student can learn, is that Penn is made for the students. Though it may not feel like it when classes are stressful or you’re the first in your family to go to college, there are always people interested in seeing you succeed. Whether it’s the cultural houses, your major department or even just your peers, there’s a place for everyone and resources for anyone who asks for them. There’s money to fund your summer experiences. There are advisors to help you through your major. I know I have benefited significantly from being at Penn because I’ve always known there’s at least one person on my team. With this in mind, these four years at Penn can be much more endearing and fulfilling.
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A Toast to Dear Old Penn: The Toast Throwing Tradition at Football Games

By Jorge Penado, C’19
Penn Alumni Relations Work Study Student

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Source: Penn Archives 1999

With traditions at universities around the nation being a staple of that institution’s student culture, it is undeniable that students at Penn have developed their own, cherished traditions throughout the year. Whether it’s something like Hey Day during Junior Year or the Econ Scream during Freshman year, Penn students have engaged in these traditions with the fervor that school spirit usually evokes. Though most traditions are relatively normal in the pantheon of university traditions, one of them might cause a non-Penn individual to double take: toast throwing at football games. As a tradition that roughly started in the 1970s, it has since become one of the staple events that every Penn student should participate in at least once throughout their time at the university.

First and foremost, it is important to ask a very basic question: What exactly is toast throwing? While every Penn student has at least heard of the tradition whether they’ve participated or not, it helps to establish exactly what toast throwing entails. As mentioned earlier, the tradition is known to have started in the 1970s during a time when alcohol was prohibited from Franklin Field where all football games are held. This ban on alcohol would actually interfere with another common tradition at football games where audience members would drink alcohol at the end of the third quarter when the Penn Band would play, “Drink a highball.” In this song created by G.B. Brigham, the song would close with the following lyrics, “Drink a highball and be jolly. Here’s a toast to dear old Penn!” After the final line, everyone in the audience would drink the alcohol as a “toast” for Penn. Nonetheless, the ban would prevent people from toasting with alcohol and would leave room for the new tradition to be launched by Greer Cheeseman and his friends.

Cheeseman, as the current director of the Penn Band, an employee for the University, and local Penn aficionado, retells the story of how a “toast to dear old Penn,” became a literal piece of toast “to dear old Penn.” Though the details of the tradition remain slightly vague, Cheeseman does remember where the idea originally came from Rocky Horror Picture. After some of Cheeseman and some of his fraternity brothers attended a showing of Rocky Horror, they were intrigued by the interactive nature of the show, particularly the part where the audience throws toast at the screen after the character, Frank, proposes a toast. Interestingly enough, the two held so many parallels that Cheeseman and his friends eventually got the brilliant idea to translate that at an actual football game. After some time, toast throwing would eventually catch on and spread quickly as most every Penn student now knows exactly what toast throwing at football games means.

When considering the position of toast throwing in the grander scheme of Penn school spirit, it’s clear that it definitely holds a special place in the school’s history. Cheeseman recounts how football games at the time were huge events that everybody attended to create that sense of pride in the school. It also didn’t hurt that Penn’s football team was particularly good and attracted their fair share of people. When asked how it feels to be a part of such a noteworthy tradition at Penn, Cheeseman explains that, while he’s not exactly sure how he feels, he does acknowledge that it’s rather “neat” to be a part of Penn’s history. Though football games don’t receive the same audiences now as they did back in the day, it’s indisputable that toast throwing will remain a part of the experience at football games. With students dividing their time between academics, social lives, and many other things, it’s difficult to attend every football game and participate all the time. Nonetheless, we can rest assured that the tradition won’t be dying out anytime soon as long as groups like the Penn Band, that go to most sports games, keep the tradition alive and others continue to distribute toast at every game at Franklin Field.

After almost fifty years of the tradition was introduced, toast throwing continues to excite people who are first experiencing the wave of toast fly above them for about 15 to 30 seconds at the end of the third quarter. With fans customizing their toast with a letter “P” and stockpiling stacks of toast, it definitely still evokes a sense of school spirit through such a unique tradition. Lucky enough, the toast-eating Zamboni-machine helps with the immense cleanup.

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Image: Homecoming 2018
Back row left to right –  Jason Feldman, ENG02; Kushol Gupta, C’93, BGS’03, Lisa Shapiro (Bardfeld), C’93; Greer Cheeseman, EE’77
Second Row left to right – Kelly (Naeun) Ha, C’16; Marianne Brogdale (Alves*), C’93; Richard DiNapoli, C’19; Robin Coyne, NU’12, GNU’15
Third Row left to right – Lauren Mendoza, C’15; Zabryna Atkinson-Diaz, C’19, GR’20; Jenna Harowitz, C’18
All former and current Penn Band Drum Majors
*Marianne Brogdale (Alves) was the first female Drum Major in Penn Band history.
Source: Source: Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03

 

Image: Toast Toss at 2018 Penn vs Bucknell Game
Source: Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03

Special thanks to Kushol Gupta, C’97, GR’03, for his consultation and partnership on this article. 

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Football, Award Ceremonies & Coming Back: Alumni Pride During Homecoming

By: Jorge Penado, C’19

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Source: Penn Alumni SmugMug

When the growing chills of late November begin to settle on campus, one of the most celebrated traditions of colleges and universities across the US arrives Homecoming. Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back former students to celebrate their time at their universities or colleges. While the tradition has existed since the 19th century, Penn didn’t actually officially adopt Homecoming celebrations until 1984. Nowadays, as many of you, as alumni, will know, Homecoming has become one of the staple events for alumni on campus alongside Alumni Weekend in the spring. Homecoming at Penn, though a tradition shared with any other university or campus, has its own flair that is very uniquely Penn. Events like the Homecoming Game and the Penn Alumni Award Gala have become great events to showcase the dedication of alumni. So, the question is: why is Homecoming at Penn unique? And, what are events like the Homecoming Game and Penn Alumni Award Gala like?

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Source: University of Pennsylvania Digital Archives

First and foremost, it is important to consider where Homecoming at Penn started and why the story behind it is so interestingly Penn. After a chat with Director Mark Frazier Lloyd of the University Archives, I was able to hear about the history of Homecoming from a true Penn enthusiast. In its simplest form, the story of Homecoming traces back to Penn’s undeniable love and excellence in football from the 1930s to the 1950s. During this era, there was no denying that Penn was a big-time intercollegiate football power. The mere success and fame of alumni like Chuck Bednarik, or “Concrete Charlie,” who would later go on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and help the team win the championship shows the general euphoria felt around football. All this to say that Penn had definitely built its reputation around its football excellence. While students officially began their participation in intercollegiate football in 1876, it was common for students to have played football on their own on campus and it began to make official publications as early as 1872. With this interest in mind, Penn would play their first two intercollegiate matches against Princeton and would, unfortunately, lose both games. Though the football team would lose about one half to two-thirds of their games in the beginning, the team would grow in skill through the 1880s until they got much better during the 1890s and under the coaching of George Woodruff. The rest is history! But, interestingly enough, this prowess in football would be challenged by another part of Penn’s identity that many hold dear, its status in the Ivy League.

In 1954, President Harold Stassen would sign the documents that would commit Penn to the Ivy League. In order to meet the general prestige of the Ivies, President Stassen declared that Penn would no longer give athletic scholarships because the Ivy League would not allow these scholarships to be awarded. Soon after, Penn’s football would go on to lose many of its games as the same amount of resources weren’t dedicated to football as they were before. Understandably so, this decision caused a lot of backlash with alumni who had lived through Penn’s glory days of football and were constantly drawn back to Penn’s campus by football in particular. With this backlash, alumni affairs employees would begin to lead a conscious effort in the 1950s at increasing alumni presence on campus after the dominance of football wasn’t felt as strongly. With ideas of the alumni affairs team, the event that is Homecoming eventually came to be. In essence, Penn Homecoming became a way to attract alumni back to campus in the hopes of doing it the way football did. Additionally, once Penn had lost its edge in football, there was something that alumni needed to be proud of when it came to their university. While I am still an undergraduate myself, I could only assume that, once we leave the cobblestones of Locust, alumni involvement with Penn is much different than when we’re here. For this reason, an event like Homecoming came about to draw people back and also provide something to be proud of as Penn would grow in status and achievement through the years and up until now.

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Source: Penn Alumni Smug Mug

With this history of Penn’s Homecoming in mind, we can take a look at Homecoming in 2018 and how certain events continue the spirit of the initial versions of this celebration. In particular, one event that I’d like to shine a light on is the Alumni Award of Merit Gala. On November 9, the University honored the work of six distinguished alumni in a variety of fields. Fortunately, I was able to attend and see the recognition of these individuals while chatting with other alumni that came to this event. With regards to the six, the variety of fields is apparent as there was an award-winning, best-selling crime novelist, an entrepreneur who launched a website called myfirstpaycheck.com to help young professionals and many other professions. Alumni from classes of ‘65, ‘76, ‘78, ‘81 and ‘06 were recognized for their individual achievements. What united all of these alumni, however, was the fact that they have all been constantly involved with Penn whether that’s participating on a Board of Trustees or leading various projects as directors. Throughout the ceremony where each one of them was recognized, I could feel the pride that they felt for Penn come through in their speeches. This pride exists so strongly that generations of these alumni and their families have been involved with the university. Being able to witness all of these alumni and even talk to others who weren’t being recognized as an extremely interesting and inspiring night for me. After this event, that pride that Lloyd spoke about in our chat really came through as all the alumni were jubilant to be back on campus. With props rightfully due to the Alumni Relations office, it is undeniable that the pride that was once sought after the loss of football is definitely still thriving through events like this at Homecoming.

Hopefully, this quick overview of Homecoming and the tangible pride that alumni have when relating to the university allows everyone to consider their own time at Penn. Though many who graduate from Penn go on to do amazing things in the world, alumni affairs will always welcome alumni from far and near to celebrate and have some pride about the university. As Mark Frazier Lloyd said, “Homecoming has risen to today’s wonderful compilation of events from this deep feeling of losing contact with many thousands of alumni because big-time football was gone.” Luckily, Homecoming is only getting better and will be here for years beyond us.

 

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The First Student Union: The Change Within Houston Hall

 

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

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Source: Fine Art America

At the center of Penn’s campus alongside iconic buildings like College Hall and landmarks like the Benjamin Franklin Statue, Houston Hall has had a long history at Penn as a center of social, recreational, educational and cultural activity, and in 2018, the hall has over 120 years of serving the Penn community. Quite recently, the Penn community has begun to adjust to the top-to-bottom renovation of the basement’s Houston Market, completed over Summer 2018. But, with all of this in mind, it seems right to look back at the long history of Houston Hall and how this year’s renovations are just an extension of the hall’s purpose and intention that it’s adopted since its conception.

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Source: University Archives & Record Center, Houston Club Booklet

 

As many Penn community members may be aware of, Houston Hall started as the first student union in the nation and opened on January 2, 1896. Generally, the student union was meant to serve as a university’s community center for recreation and socialization and often was the host of student affairs and even student governance which can be seen now. As the first student union in the United States, Houston had some liberty to gather influence and set the tone for what would eventually become a common center at any modern university. In particular, Houston drew its inspiration from Cambridge University and Oxford University, where the first union would be established in 1823. However, it wouldn’t be for another 70 years that Penn Trustees would decide to provide students with their own center.

After their decision, Trustee Charles Harrison would announce a competition amongst students and recent graduates who would have the opportunity to design the building. Soon after, two students, William C. Hays, and Milton Bennett Medary Jr. would win the competition and have their designs combined into the architectural style of college gothic and ultimately executed by Philadelphia-based architect, Frank Miles Day. It seemed only natural that the student center for the university would be designed by two architecture students. In order to finance the project, Trustee Harrison was luckily able to secure a donation of $100,000 from Trustee Henry Howard Houston and his wife Sallie S. Houston. Interestingly enough, the building is not technically named for Trustee Houston as it was actually named for his late son Henry Howard Houston Jr. who had unfortunately passed the year after his graduation from the university in 1878.

Once the hall was completed in 1896, the doors would eventually open to the student body. One significant activity that emerged at the beginning would have to be the Houston Club. This club was founded to, as stated in their constitution, “draw together students, officers, and alumni of all Departments of the University in a wholesome social life, and to provide for them suitable amusements and recreations.” The club would soon after establish an internal leadership which many accredit to the first semblance of student governance at Penn. Besides leadership, they also established three committees that were meant to help in the operation of Houston and included the House Committee, in charge of maintaining Houston’s various amenities, the Membership Committee, in charge of admission of new members, and the Library Committee, in charge of all reading material. Interestingly enough, Houston Club was only open to tuition-paying male students at the time, and thus, with the creation of Bennett Hall, the Bennet Club would be created as a female version of this club. As a club, this student group had much influence over the maintenance and usage of Houston Hall. However, this would only last until 1929 when it was replaced by the more inclusive Houston Hall Board, then in 1969 when it was replaced by the Penn Union Council and finally, transform into the modern Social Planning and Events Committee.

With this historical information in mind, it is possible to understand how the services that Houston Hall provides has changed over time. In particular, the original Houston Hall would be almost unrecognizable to many Penn students now and to some degree, would draw in a sense of awe for what was once provided. For example, the original Houston Hall of the late 19th century had such amenities as a billiards room, a chess room, a trophy room, a gym, a pool, and even bowling lanes! At first glance, it was amazing that Penn once had their own bowling lane which is something I’ve only ever occasionally heard in movies and would love to have on campus. But, then I consider what’s in its place now and realize that Houston Market takes up the area.

As I mentioned, Houston Market recently went through their own renovation, valued at around $15 million, and expanded the number of dining options available for everyone. Actually, the last renovation Houston Hall underwent was about 20 years ago. This renovated Houston Market now serves from eight different stations with expanded hours. While the response has been mostly positive, there has been some discussion on the ever-changing purpose of Houston Hall. In an article published on September 20 in the DP, one contributor noted the shift from Houston being purely about student socialization to being mostly a place to work and dine. This opinion piece noted how students nowadays find it harder to locate a central place to completely relax and meet in today’s busy community and believe socializing in Houston has changed. With all of this in mind, it’s clear that Houston Hall has remained a dynamic building on campus.

Overall, the new renovations of Summer 2018 seem to be a part of the constantly evolving intent of Houston Hall. While Houston is still a place where people congregate to eat and do work, the purpose has definitely changed since its conception in 1896 as recreational activities like pool tables and TV rooms mostly exist within college houses. Even though the conversation continues on campus, this walkthrough of Houston Hall’s history has only solidified its status as a staple of Penn’s campus.

 

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Caught In The Sun: A Reflection on Penn Students’ Summer Activity

By: Jorge Penado, C’19
International Relations Major
Work-Study Student, Sweeten Alumni House

While the heat begins to fade on campus, it is undeniable that the summer season is winding down for Penn students. Besides returning to Philadelphia, another significant stepping stone of the summer is the end of the various summer experiences Penn students participate in. As we all begin another year, everyone has to catch up on what they’ve been doing for the last three months. Whether it’s an internship, travel or simply heading back home, Penn students are sure to have exciting and interesting stories about their summers. But, the question always comes up: what do Penn students typically do over the summer? While we’re still fresh off the heels of Summer 2018, we can look back at previous years to see what Penn students tend to do over the summer.

Published in January 2018 by Career Services, their report presents a breakdown of the results of a questionnaire surveying students on their Summer 2017 activities. [Add link/source of the report.] For starters, with over 3,000 responses, over 70% of students in all three surveyed populations worked over the summer. The next two highest activities common amongst students include completing classes and traveling or taking time off. In particular, sophomores were more likely to complete classes or travel/ take time off. Interestingly, more than three-quarters of students had a paid position. Though the report does not clarify what types of positions were held, this is amazing because there’s always so much talk around unpaid internships and how difficult they can be for students to participate in. Overall, the numbers point to an overwhelmingly involved and active summer for many students.

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

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2017 Career Services Summer Survey

After understanding the general picture, the report additionally outlines where people were employed. For example, most Sophomores and Juniors stayed in Pennsylvania while Seniors mostly went to New York. However, most people who responded to the survey either were in New York, Pennsylvania or California. The summer destination of Penn students additionally makes sense when you consider what they were doing. Most Seniors and Juniors worked in Finance which is a clear reflection of the business-oriented mindset of many students at Penn. Most Sophomores were involved in the Education industry, though there is no detail as to what this entails. Similarly to the state, most surveyed students worked in three distinct industries: Finance, Education and Technology. With both the industry and geographic distribution in mind, the map of where people worked in becomes clearer.

If we dive deeper into the common employers for students, it’s easy to see that Penn employs the most students over the summer. Whether it’s doing research with a professor or working at the hospital, a summer in Philadelphia almost seems like a staple for many students for their time at Penn. Other than Penn, the employers tend to vary between years. Seniors worked with employers like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Juniors worked with employers like the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or J.P. Morgan. Many Sophomores stayed within the university’s many departments such as the Perelman School of Medicine. Though there are definitely trends around what students did, there are still so many ways to diversify your experience. With this one report, it’s possible to get a picture of what students generally do, even if the results for Summer 2018 have yet to be published.

When considering that Penn is one of the largest summer employers, the scope of support from Penn becomes that much more noteworthy. Whether it’s providing research positions, opportunities abroad through organizations like the International Internship Program or On-Campus Recruiting, Penn provides many paths to finding positions over the summer. However, in addition to this, another valuable service the university has begun to provide would have to be funding for these summer opportunities. As a result of generous donors, Career Services was able to provide about $3,500 for a select amount of students to cover expenses for unpaid or underpaid experiences in the summer.

In particular, this service holds great significance to me because it funded my own summer experience. For the summer, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Department of State’s internship at the US Embassy in Lima, Peru under the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement section. For ten weeks, I was able to meet with high-ranking officials in the foreign service, participate in daily, embassy work, interact with Peruvians from all sectors, write and edit government reports and learn about regional and national politics hands-on and out in the field. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without funding from Penn to support my transportation, living expenses, and food. With their support, I had significantly less stress about financial logistics and was able to fully immerse myself in the experience, and I don’t doubt the funding made every other recipient’s summer experience that much less stressful.

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US Embassy in Lima, Peru (The place I spent my summer of 2018)

Overall, while the summer season has ended for Penn students, many come back to campus with great experiences working, taking classes or simply going home. The professional culture at Penn is a staple of the undergraduate experience, and it’s always best when Penn can help smoothen that process and provide an extensive list of resources!

 

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