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.
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.
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.
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.