Category Archives: Lisa V.

Dear, Sweeten –

Author: Lisa V., C’02, GeD’10

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to witness four Olympic games; long enough to get a bachelor’s degree – twice; long enough to become a doctor – medical school, residency and all.  For me, the past eight years have been long enough to grow up from an unpolished post-grad looking for any old job to a professional woman with what one might actually categorize as a “career.”  How did this happen?

In May 2005, I came back to Penn for the first time since graduating in May 2002, this time not as a student but as a staff member.  I remember walking through campus that fall during move-in, feeling as though I could relate much more to the incoming students than my colleagues or fellow alumni.  It was much like coming home from college for your first Thanksgiving, unsure whether you should sit at the kids table or the grown up table.  Lucky for me, I wasn’t forced to choose.

How it all started

How it all started

In the ensuing years, I received a true education.  I learned how to work hard, and play even harder.  I learned that the art of building relationships is the key to success – both professionally and personally.  I learned that impromptu dance parties are the best remedy for a long, hard day of work – and just about anything else.  I learned – by example – what it means to be a mentor, a leader, a team player.  I learned that work-life balance is a journey, not a destination – but it’s a journey made far less arduous when accompanied by amazing friends and colleagues.

Playing hard

Playing hard

Team building

Team building

Penn has always been a special place for me.  As an undergraduate, it’s where I met my very best friends and received an education that opened my eyes to the world’s possibilities.  But I’d be lying if didn’t say that the past eight years have been as – if not more – transformative.  My Penn family – stand-in moms and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles – have guided and supported me through marriage and moves and babies and second degrees.  They’ve made me laugh when I felt like crying.  They’ve talked me off the ledge, and been there to catch me when I still managed to fall over it.  They’ve celebrated my successes as if they were their own, and reassured me that my failures were merely stepping stones.

Growth and expansion

Growth and expansion

Eight years is a long time.  It’s long enough to acquire a second family; long enough to build relationships that will endure well beyond my tenure here; and long enough to know that I will never again find such an amazing group of passionate, loyal, creative colleagues.

Thank you, Sweeten, for eight tremendous years.   It’s a sin that it has to come to an end – but I know you will all be part of the next chapter of my life in your own ways.





Filed under Leaving Penn, Lisa V., Memories of Penn, Photos, Sweeten Alumni House, The Sweeten Life

I Voted! Now What?

Author: Lisa V., C’02, GeD’10

With the 2012 Presidential Election just days behind us, it’s easy to fall into that post-election malaise. No more dramatic political Facebook rants to follow with eager disdain.  No more parody-esque campaign ads to watch at 4 times the speed as you fast forward through commercial breaks on your DVR.  But fear not!  For now is the time for post-election analysis, that beautiful window between the chaos of the campaign and the start of the (not so) new administration.  It is the opportunity for political pundits of all persuasions to explore the the infinite ways in which the president just might screw up before he actually has the opportunity to do so.

Luckily for those of us at Penn, we have access to an incredible array of experts who can help us make sense of the election results without the punditry.  Check out the links below to join the conversation!

Eleven Penn Law faculty members share their insights into how the election was conducted and what it means for health reform, economic recovery, immigration, women’s rights and a host of other issues vital to the country’s future follows. You can read all of their thoughts and insights here.

Members of the Fox Leadership Group, Penn Leads the Vote, working the polls at Vance Hall on November 6, 2012.

On Thursday, November 15, 2012 from  12-1 PM Penn’s political science faculty experts will recount the final moments leading up to Election Day, eleventh-hour campaign twists, and, ultimately, the results.  Attend the discussion on campus (and get free pizza!) in Houston Hall’s Benjamin Franklin Room or watch live online. Go here for more info.

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumnni Education, Lisa V.

Band Together

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

One of my favorite things about our signature weekends here on campus – Homecoming, in the fall, and Alumni Weekend, in the spring – is how the entire Penn community comes together to create an incredible breadth of fun, interesting, educational opportunities that highlight Penn’s well known – and not so well known – treasures.  Staff, faculty, students, administrators and  – of course – alumni work collaboratively for months on end to pull these weekends off.  The result, without exception, is a campus brimming with energy and excitement.

This Homecoming, one fantastic example of this is the inaugural Blutt Band Slam.  The event, made possible by the generosity of Mitchell Blutt, C’78, M’82, WG’87, will highlight nine of campuses most talented musical performers as they compete live on College Green for cash prizes.   From rock bands to classical trios to a cappella groups, the performers will include both Penn student and alumni musicians. I hope you will meet us on College Green following the football game to support your favorite group and get in on the fun!

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Filed under Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Lisa V., The Arts at Penn

With Eyes Wide Open

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

Recently, I had the good fortune to take a tour of Penn’s campus with two lovely alumnae who had not been back to campus in over ten years.  As someone who has come to work right in the heart of campus five days a week for the past seven years, you’d think I would be an ideal candidate to lead this tour.  But as I thought more about it leading up to the alumnae’s visit, I realized that while I live and breathe Penn nearly every day, I rarely experience it as a visitor.  Instead, I run from one building to the next, one meeting to the next, with my head down, rarely slowing my pace or deviating from my normally prescribed routes.

And so I picked up the phone and called a friend and colleague from Facilities and Real Estate Services.  Surely, she would have some tips for my tour, perhaps even a few fact sheets I could look over in advance.  Instead, she put me in touch with Mark Kocent, Principle Planner in the University Architect’s Office.  Over the past ten years, Mark has had a hand in nearly every capital project – new buildings, renovations, and more – that have taken place on Penn’s campus.  As luck would have it, Mark’s was free yesterday morning and graciously agreed to join us for the tour.

It was a truly beautiful day – sunny and mild.  Beginning at the Sweeten Alumni House, we walked east to the soon-to-be opened Shoemaker Green outside the Palestra.  We stopped into the Weiss Pavilion to admire the Education Commons and Fox Fitness Center – both with beautiful views of Shoemaker Green and the city skyline.  From there, we walked over to Penn Park, admiring the tennis courts and softball field.  All along the way, Mark shared tidbits about the planning and construction of each site, as well as future development plans.  As we made our way back into the heart of campus, we visited the beautifully renovated – and LEED certified – Music Building, which juxtaposes the old and new in an incredibly seamless way.  Finally, we stopped into Fisher-Bennett Hall, where our alumnae took many classes as students.

Thanks to Mark, our alumnae – and I – walked away inspired by Penn’s beauty and growth.  Moreover, I am now determined to make the time to explore new corners of campus going forward; to pick up my head and deviate from my normal route every once in a while; and to truly appreciate this magnificent space in which I work and live.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumnni Education, Campus Life, Lisa V.

Office Hours

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

The Penn Alumni Office Hours series kicks off on 9/19 with a focus on the 2012 election.  Join Annenberg Professor Joseph Turow as discusses the rise of tailored political advertising – and what Americans say about it. You can view our Office Hours homepage here. Or click here to register!

Annenberg Professor Joseph Turow

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An Olympic Games Primer

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

As you can see from my colleague’s previous post, we have a little bit of Olympic-fever here in Alumni Relations.  But with the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games quickly approaching, what better time to reflect on this historic event through a Red & Blue lens?

For those curious about the origins of the Olympics, look no further than Thomas Tartaron, associate professor of Classical Studies.  As Tartaron explains in the latest issue of the SAS Frontiers e-magazine, some aspects of the event haven’t changed much at all:

Like today’s game…a major portion of the [Olympic games] lent itself to money making.  Feasting was a constant over the span of five days, punctuated with athlete fanfare and victory processions.  Greeks came by land and sea to attend the games, which translated into financial gain for those offering food and lodging.

Scene from Attic Black Figure Amphora , ca. 510-490 BC, depicting a boxing contest (‘pugme’). Two boxers wear soft leather ‘himantes’ or boxing gloves. The man with the long stick is either a judge or trainer. A naked youth stands by, holding extra ‘himantes.’ University of Pennsylvania Museum Object ID MS403.

Wondering how many Quakers have made it to the pinnacle of athletic competition?  A recent Pennsylvania Gazette article breaks down the numbers:

Excluding the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, a Penn student, coach, faculty member, or alumnus has appeared in every single Summer Olympics…According to an online exhibition posted by the University Archives and Records Center, Penn’s athletes have won at least 26 gold medals, 28 silver medals, and 28 bronze medals…In all, the University of Pennsylvania has sent nearly 200 athletes, coaches, managers, doctors, and committee members to the Olympics—competing in sports that include track, rowing, swimming, wrestling, field hockey, equestrian, fencing, rugby, and yachting and representing countries ranging from Canada to Belize to Great Britain and to Greece.

This year is no exception to this tradition. Susan Francia,C’04, G’04 who won a gold medal as part of the women’s eight boat at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was selected for the same eight-person boat at the 2012 Olympics.

And now, let the games begin!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Athletics, Lisa V.

Here comes Homecoming…

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED ‘10

This time last year, I blogged about the eerie calm and quiet that descends on campus after Alumni Weekend and Commencement.  Somehow, it seems like that calm, quiet period gets shorter and shorter each year.  Here it is, just barely the month of June, and already we are well into our planning for Homecoming Weekend featuring Arts & Culture.  Though Homecoming is still over four months away, programs are already being created; spaces are being secured; and marketing materials are being designed.  As much work as this is, it is also one of my favorite parts of my job.  Homecoming Weekend is an opportunity to share Penn’s creative side with the world.  And since I’m no good at keeping secrets, here’s a sneak peak at what you just might get to experience if you come back to campus October 26-28, 2012.

What is contemporary?  Learn the answer from Ingrid Schaffner, Senior Curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art.

Explore new developments in contemporary jazz with music professor Dr. Guy Ramsey.

Join a discussion about California and French Impressionism and view pieces on loan from the Irvine Museum at the Arthur Ross Gallery.

Discover what the ancient Mayans REALLY thought would happen in the year 2012 at the Penn Museum exhibit Maya 2012: Lords of Time.

Stay tuned for more exciting programs like these by visiting!  Check back in August for full details on the Homecoming Weekend featuring Arts & Culture website.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Homecoming Weekend featuring arts and culture, Lisa V.

Ferns and foliage and fish – oh my!

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GEd’10

As a double Penn alumna who has worked at the University for nearly seven years, it’s easy to take Penn’s campus for granted.  Every day, I walk briskly up Locust Walk unfazed by the greenery that surrounds me.  When I find the time to leave my desk for lunch, I make a beeline to Houston Hall or a nearby food truck, rarely detouring from my all too familiar and direct route.  But every once in a long while, a fresh set of eyes and an unseasonably spring-like day combine to pull me out of my bubble.

Last week on a particularly sunny and warm day, my dear colleague Liz Pinnie, who has been at Penn just under six months, organized an expedition to the Bio Pond.   I’d only visited the Bio Pond one time prior, during my freshman year at Penn – well over 10 years ago.  At first, I met Liz’s suggestion with some resistance – it was so far away and what if it was muggy and bug-ridden?  But with just a bit of extra prodding – and a personal map – I agreed to join her.

The Bio Pond is truly a little oasis in the middle of campus.   Grad students and staff and young families sit at picnic tables eating their lunches, while turtles sun themselves on rocks nearby.  Yes, the trip required a deviation from normal routine.  But thanks to Liz and those extra rays of sunshine, I was reminded of what a truly extraordinary place Penn’s campus is – and of just how lucky I am to spend my 9-5 here!

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Filed under Campus Life, Lisa V.

Two Good Things for Thursday

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

It’s not every day that that you get to make a declarative statement like this. And it’s even more rare that this statement – or one of similar magnitude – is taken straight from a celebrity blog. But thanks to Elizabeth Banks, C’96, Emmy-nominated television and film actress, the University of Pennsylvania has TWO things to be proud of today: not only are the researchers at this fine institution making giant advances in the realm of cancer treatment, but we can also claim as our own an alumna who has not eschewed her connection to the University – or to issues and topics that truly matter – in her rise to stardom. Kudos to you, Elizabeth.

You can read Elizabeth’s blog post here and, for more information about the Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, visit their website.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lisa V., The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Taking a gamble on Network Roulette

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

These days, there are a plethora of new technologies out there touting themselves as the next great social networking tool.  As a consumer, it can be hard to know which ones are worth your time – and, in some cases, your money – and which will go the way of MySpace.  Here at Penn, we don’t necessarily have the answers, but we do have the opportunity to give our alumni the chance to try out some of these networking platforms within the safety of the Penn Alumni community.

This month, Penn is offering up one such opportunity.  On February 22, Penn Alumni and Career Services are hosting Network Roulette for Penn alumni and students in the media and entertainment industries.  In this virtual speed-networking session, alumni will be randomly matched with students interested in the media and entertainment industry. Each pair will be given 6 minutes to chat and share their questions and experiences. At the end of those 6 minutes, participants will be paired immediately with a new match. At the end of the event, each student and alumnus will have made 10 new connections.  It’s a truly unique opportunity for alumni to share career-related guidance and advice with current Penn students.

Click here for more information about Network Roulette and to sign up for the February 22 event.

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumnni Education, Lisa V.