Category Archives: Lex. H.

Locust Walk Talk: Renewing the dreams of past glories

Author: Casey Ryan, C’95

Many of you may remember my blog entry over a year ago where I shared with you the story of my rugby team, Philadelphia Gryphons, working on going to Australia, (Locust Walk Talk: What Penn’s Taught Me After Graduation). The anniversary party was only the beginning of this trek. We were able to reinvigorate our alumni and our current players to work together to create that important network of support to bolster the team and to implement new programs.

Good Game

Good Game

The club has implemented seasonal boot camps for new and interested players to learn some basic rugby skills in order to introduce them to a scrimmage with the veteran players at the end of the two hour camp. The board has institutionalized our first Saturday socials, which typically are social gatherings at our sponsor bars to increase the team’s visibility among the community and city; we supplement bar nights with outings to rugby tournaments, marching in Philadelphia’s Pride Parade, and hosting viewing parties for European matches to flesh out our calendar for the year. The fall season will be the Gryphons’ inaugural season for our new recruit/veteran mentorship program. We have initiated Alumni Days, for the first match of the season, to increase attendance at our games. Finally, the Gryphons are working to establish both a day to give back to urban youth and to regularize a Founder’s Day celebration to commemorate the team’s anniversary.

joe and tony

Gryphons at the Anniversary: Joe, GEd’14; Tony, Gr’13; and Marc.

Due to this diligent work, we were successful in getting ourselves off to Sydney – raising over $15,000 to help defray some of the costs of the trip.  Starting yesterday, twenty-one Gryphons, supporters, partners and spouses will start making their way down to Australia for the Bingham Cup. With Anthony Chieco, Gr’17; Joe Ciesielski, GEd’14; Phil Cochetti, C’06; Joe Cruz, C’97, CGS’04, GEX’12; Chris Hatfield, CGS’02; Ted Panczyszyn, Penn staff; Dan Stringer, NU’13, GNU’16; and myself, over a quarter of the team and support staff going to the tournament has a Penn connection. In short, very little of the Gryphons’ success would have been possible without the team’s collective Penn experience.


More Gryphons at the Anniversary: Phil, C’06, and Ken signing the team ball for the raffle

Personally, the Gryphons have been a huge labor of love for me – helping me maintain the work/life balance that we strive for. The team has taught me leadership, patience and perseverance. Most importantly, it’s been the source of several amazing friends over the years – especially during the times in life when it’s typically more difficult to make new ones.

Marching in Philadelphia Pride

Marching in Philadelphia Pride

And speaking of new, you also may know that I am leaving Penn. I’m graduating from my tenure at Penn to go over to University of the Sciences, about 9 blocks southwest of Sweeten House, as Director of Alumni Relations. Founded in 1821, University of the Sciences is a leading science and top pharmacy college in Philadelphia. In fact, it is America’s first pharmacy school. While I’m leaving Penn, I won’t be too far and, as an added bonus, USciences’ president is a proud Penn alumna, Helen Giles-Gee, CW’72, GEd’73, Gr’83. In addition, another teammate of mine, Greg Wallace, PCP’14, is USciences alumnus and I’ve already been cultivating him to return to reunion weekend this year.

Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 rules social media. Anthony, Gr’17, was the 1000th person to LIKE Bingham Cup Sydney 2014. From the Facebook page, “From the looks of it Anthony plays hard! An official Bingham Cup ”Play Hard” T-shirt is coming your way mate!”

It’s been a pleasure sharing my Penn experiences with you as a staffer over the last two and half years. I have already promised to work on my reunion as my 20th comes up in 2015 and I will be joining the Penn Club of Philadelphia. When I settle into my role at USciences, I will approach the interview program about helping out. Lastly, I have promised our communications staff that I will post quarterly on the blog as an alumnus.


#tbt, Sydney 2005

In the meantime, feel free to check up on my trek through Australia – Perth to Syndey – via stops in Hong Kong and Bangkok at

This tournament is getting major media attention in Australia. Here are two South Sydney Rabbitohs, brothers Sam and Tom Burgess, who have backed the Bingham Cup and have called for an end to homophobia in sport in Australia. The Rabbitohs are partially owned by Russell Crowe.

Truly Red and Blue,

Me and Lex Ruby Howe, C’07, WEV’09, WEV’10, GEd’12, my favorite Aussie at Penn. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!


Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Casey R., Leaving Penn, Lex. H., Locust Walk Talk, Penn Club of Philadelphia

An Australian Weekend

Author: Lex Ruby Howe, C’07, GED’13

What do Australians do, one wonders, when they’re surrounded by sea and other awesome Australians at all time? Well this one, on weekends, is rediscovering the beauty of a slower pace, an access to experiences not overrun by the enormity of an urban metropolis, and the unique enjoyment of living in a Commonwealth nation still filled with vestiges of the long reach of the British monarchy.

The last weekends were filled with examples of all such things.

Canberra benefits from a “Sunday is a shopping day” mentality, with residents exploring the on-going “pop-up” markets that grace our streets. One of the highlights is the Old Bus Depot Markets, which, as the name suggests, lives in the Old Bus Depot on the foreshores of one of Canberra’s oldest neighbourhoods, Kingston and pops up each Sunday for one day only. It features the best of the best of chocolates, dips, breads, farmer’s stands, antiques, and artistic novelties known to Canberra. Oh, and if you need one of those lovely best-friendship woven bands, this is the place for you! The Depot has quickly become my Sunday habit.

Ah, but the fun doesn’t end there. My grandparents live in the Blue Mountains, a rural oasis to many Sydney-siders who need an escape from their urban peers. The mountains are peppered with small towns filled with antique stores, places for traditional English afternoon tea, and apple orchards that feed Australia. The fresh air must have gone to my head during my visit to the mountains two weeks ago, as I did something I’d never done before – I woke up expressly to see the sunrise. I watched as it transitioned from a beautiful auburn, to gold, to vibrant yellow, dancing across the dewy grass beneath my feet.

After that sunrise that weekend, I made my way back down the mountains for a quick stop at the Royal Windsor Polo Club. The Club hosted the International Test Series between South Africa and Australia, and after learning the rules on the fly, I enjoyed watching Australia trounce our Commonwealth peers 9-4. I must admit, the game was far less enjoyable than the people-watching opportunities provided by the strutting of Sydney’s young, bold, and beautiful.

Speaking of Sydney, Canberra’s proximity to Australia’s darling city provides ample opportunities for quick weekends away. Sydney offers the homesick among us with a chance to taste a bit of Americana. Shopping at stores that *ahem* may not exist in Canberra (Zara), heading to comedy shows (thank you Tom Green), and delighting taste buds with specialty Ramen shops tucked in the nooks and crannies of a vibrant Chinatown are just a few of the perks of a weekend in Sydney. I plan on exploring them again and again over weekends to come.


It is a hodge-podge, but this is Australian life.


Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lex. H.

My Australian Story, Part 2

Author: Lex Ruby Howe, C’07, GED’13

The last month has brought drama to Canberra that The Bold & the Beautiful’s writing staff can only dream of. As you no doubt noticed, Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was challenged for her seat at the helm of the ruling party by her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, whom she had ousted only 3 years earlier in an equally dramatic political coup. Rudd did not prevail, and things settled back to normal, much to the dismay of the political junkies among us. But not without leaving behind some prize Australian political cartoon commentary.

This was not the only flair that graced Canberra’s streets. The nation’s capital just celebrated it’s 99th birthday, allowing all residents to enjoy light festivals, fireworks, museum visits, and a time-honored treat amongst the loyal public servants – a chance to get out of the city and down to the “coast” for the last throes of the waning summer.

Lights festival at Old Parliament House

The leaves have started to turn to hues of gold, auburn, and scarlet to welcome in the autumn season. As they do, I find myself wishing for the blossoms of the trees across Penn’s campus, the growing buds along locust walk, and the promising warmer breeze of the spring winds in Philadelphia. Thankfully, I see Penn every day – my desk proudly features the Penn calendar, displaying the spring my American friends are about to enjoy.

The coming fall in Canberra

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lex. H.

The Beginning of My Australian Story

Author: Lex Ruby-Howe, C’07

I “relocated,” to put it gently, to Canberra, Australia just over two weeks ago. Returning to what I had often referred to as my “home town,” after 9 years away, and 9 years of making Philadelphia my US home, I now feel like an American tourist in what is affectionately called the “bush-capital” of Australia. Terms and definitions I once knew and used readily are now foreign to me – like what the heck does “snuffed” mean, and if there’s a meeting in “Monday week,” when should I be there? But, nonetheless, the Australians are very adept tour guides, and things are slowly coming back.

It’s a year of change – for me, yes, and for Australia as well. Canberra is a very political place – everything is centered around the government, and as Australia gears up for it’s election season, a battle with the world economy, and so many domestic policy challenges, there’s no telling which direction everything might go.

But until we know, here are a few photos of my early Australian ventures – a photo testament to the telling of Australia’s story, and a hilltop photo of the “bush-capital.”

In the meantime, I look forward to telling my “Penn story” in the coming months as I interview the excited few Australian students who have applied to Penn for admittance to the Class of 2016. It will be a good way to remember what I still consider “home.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lex. H.

Spin the Wheel

Author: Lex Ruby Howe, C’07

Who doesn’t love a game show? It brings out our competitive spirit, our drive to win a pretty-shiny thing, and provides a chance to show off our innate skills.

Well, the Penn Traditions program recently capitalized on the average Penn person’s competitive side and unveiled the Penn Alumni Spinning Wheel! Inspired by Penn’s academic theme year “Year of Games,” Penn Traditions decided to go big or go home. We went big – the spinning wheel measures 5 feet in diameter and 10 feet tall – it is a behemoth of Penn games. And it rocks!

The spinning wheel’s maiden voyage was at Penn Park Field Day on Saturday, September 17. Thousands of Penn students, alumni, staff, and community friends flocked to the park for it’s opening, and the line at our spinning wheel attraction didn’t end. For two straight hours they all lined up and waited for their chance at fame and glory. Ok, maybe just a Penn Scarf or T-shirt, but the jubilation on the faces of the winners told it all.

Contestants, or aka, participants, in the Penn Alumni Wheel of Glory had to answer a challenging Penn trivia question – questions based on the history and traditions of our alma mater, which for some provided a large road block to that coveted prize. Many of the participants were freshman, who hadn’t yet seen the running of Penn Relays, or watched the sea of red as the juniors processed in their hats and canes on Hey Day. But with fans around them, and upperclassmen to help, most walked away with a prize and a smile!

Me at the Wheel with one of our newest members of the Class of 2015

Test your own Penn trivia knowledge with these questions below: would you be a winner??

1)      The Penn Coat of Arms includes the University’s motto quoted from Horace’s “Third Ode.”  What is the motto?

2)      How old was Ben Franklin when he died?

"Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky" by Benjamin West (1738-1820).

3)     Prior to its name change in the late 18th century, what did the University of Pennsylvania used to be called?

4)      According to its creator, what does the crack in the button represent?

5)      What year did Hey Day start at Penn?

Hey Day, 1911 (then called “Class Day”)

Know these questions, and when you find our spinning wheel at Homecoming you too might walk away a winner!

Answers to Quizzo questions: 1) Leges Sine Moribus Vanae, or Laws without Morals are Meaningless. 2) Ben Franklin was 84 when he passed. 3) The Academy of Philadelphia. 4) The Schuylkill River. 5) It was started in 1916.


1 Comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lex. H., Traditions

Safety On-Campus

Author: Lex Ruby-Howe, C’07

With New Student Orientation (NSO) now just three weeks away, the campus is starting to busy with preparations for the hive of activities that welcome new and returning students to Penn’s academic and social life.

Last night, representatives from the hubs and centers across campus headed to Bodek Lounge to present their wares to the 100 or so pre-freshman program (PennCAP) students, in a hope to orient them to the soon-to-be-alive campus and all it has to offer.

While the excitement of joining their 2400 peers at NSO looms, some of those students will, after a summer of relative freedom, be stepping into a somewhat restrictive environment.

The City of Philadelphia has experienced several spontaneous, and somewhat destructive, flash mobs this summer, and is taking action to ebb the flow of youth to the streets. These mobs have seen hundreds of young folks taking to the streets, and in some instances causing damage to businesses and storefronts.

The Mayor’s Office is enforcing a pre-existing city-wide curfew. The curfew will be most heavily implemented (and policed) in Center City and University City. Details of the curfew can be found here –but minors under the age of 18 must be inside from 9 PM-6 AM every day, or accompanied by an adult 21 or over.

Mayor Nutter Presenting the New Curfew Plan

After a presentation by a detective from Penn’s Department of Public Safety at the resource fair last night, the PennCAP students became concerned they’d be stopped or face punishment when walking back from class each evening. Penn’s Divison of Public Safety is making sure any individuals under 18 who are Penn affiliated have as much information about the curfew as possible, and act responsibly if they are challenged. They are taking measures to ensure students always carry identification, and if stopped suggest the students mention their participation in the PennCAP program and should not face any problems.

The campus community should be glad that safety is of the utmost priority. The students will no doubt benefit from the actions the City of Philadelphia is taking to make sure our their 2400 undergraduate students peers are safe come September too.

City of Philadelphia Curfew Map

Leave a comment

Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Lex. H., Philadelphia

The Summer is for Traditions Too!

Author: Lex Ruby Howe, C’07

Penn is a place of year-round traditions.

From the Econ Scream to Hey Day, these traditions fill up the days and nights of our undergraduate students. The summer is no different – traditions abound – and the good news is that our alumni can delight in them too.

Each summer, Penn’s regional clubs across the U.S. host annual events – or traditions – to excite their members. Many of these clubs host send off receptions for incoming freshman, welcome receptions for recently graduated seniors who are landing there after a summer vacation. Added to that are the multitude of networking opportunities run every year by the Trustees Council of Penn Women.

This year, Penn Alumni and the Young Penn Alumni (y-Penn) program are starting traditions in Boston and Washington D.C. On June 11, D.C. will host one of the signature alumni events known as the “HighBall” – and they’re expecting over 200 people to turn out and reunite. Boston young alumni are borrowing a campus tradition – the famous wine-tasting preceptorials – and are throwing an “Arts & Wine Night” at Boston’s International Poster Gallery.

If you’re looking for something to do, check out the alumni website for more information on these. Worst case scenario, if you can’t make any of the events, think about throwing toast at your next board meeting! Happy summer!

Leave a comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Lex. H., Traditions, y-Penn

Hey Day and the Final Toast: April 2011

Author: Lex Ruby Howe, C’07, GED’13

Penn students celebrated the 95th annual Hey Day yesterday, with the Class of 2012 advancing to “senior” status as the senior Class of 2011 were welcomed into the Penn Alumni community at the third annual Final Toast.

The Class of 2012 Processes Down Locust Walk

The Final Toast featured a beer-garden, food from Penn’s famous food trucks – Magic Carpet, Sugar Philly, and Guapo Taco by Jose Garces – as well as the Mask & Wig Band, the Bloomers Band, and DJ Rico.

Juniors and Seniors Converge

A special appearance by President Amy Gutmann made the event truly remarkable. Gutmann joined the Mask & Wig band on stage for a brilliant rendition of “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Final Toasters with Dr. Gutmann

Many on campus are calling this one of the cleanest and safest Hey Days they’ve seen in years – the tradition of celebration is coming back!

The Tradition Continues

You can view the latest photos from Hey Day here. Enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Alumni Programming, Campus Fashion, Campus Life, Events, Lex. H., Student Perspective, Traditions