Category Archives: Memories of Penn

Freshman Dorms in 1989 (77 Weeks To Go)

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

A recent post in our #93tothe25th countdown to our 25th reunion looked back at our Freshman Move-In in September, 1989. This week, we went back into our pre-digital camera archives to unearth photos of where and how we lived that first year at Penn. It is interesting to see that while everyone has their own personal style, there is a definite similarity to the rooms and the things that were in vogue in the Fall of 1989. Be sure to look closely at the photos to notice small things like original Macintosh computers, phones with cords, and the all important music posters.

Thank you to classmates Danny Bockvar, Marianne Alves Brogdale, Amy Korn Duque, Christine Lutton Foster, Brooke Hayes, Meredith Prevor-Weiss, Allison Laney Richards, and Jessica Zirkel-Rubin for sharing your photos with us!

Upper Quad

I lived on the 2nd floor of Franklin in the Upper Quad. I shared a triple with Lisa Bardfeld Shapiro and Randi Mosler, and while we were technically assigned to Franklin Hall, our triple and the one across the hall from us were separated from the rest of the Franklin rooms by fire doors. So the Brooks-Leidy Hall adopted us.

Penn roommates in September 1989 in the Upper Quad at Penn

We scored a triple in the Upper Quad – room 222 Franklin! Randi, Lisa and Kiera on move-in day, 1989.

Since we had a triple room, there were two tiny single rooms and one large central room. We swapped rooms throughout the year, but for the first part of the year, I had one of the single rooms.

Kiera Reilly freshman dorm room at University of Pennsylvania in the Upper Quad

My bed in one of the side rooms of our triple in the Upper Quad.

Kiera Reilly's freshman dorm room in the Upper Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania

The view from my bed out the window. For some reason I thought buying an ironing board was a good idea.

This photo is dark, but you can partially see the view of the Quad through the window.

Kiera Reilly's view from her dorm room in the Upper Quad at the University of Pennsylvania

Looking out into the Upper Quad.

The RA for the 2nd floor of Brooks-Leidy, Mark. Remember milk crates?

RA for the 2nd floor of Brooks-Leidy in the Upper Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania

I think RA’s had a double-sized room all to themselves.

High Rises

Amy Korn Duque shares, “My freshman move-in day at Penn, I was assigned to a high rise on the 14th floor, sharing an apartment-style dorm with 2 girls from Colombia and one from Staten Island. (I am still in touch with 2 out of 3.) One of my roommates had gone to high school with a Wharton sophomore, who came over to help us move in and get settled. They were not particularly good friends, but we hit it off right away.  He and I have now been married for 21 years, and this year we saw our son off to Penn for his own freshman move-in day.”

Amy Korn Duque and Alejandra Torres in High Rise South Room 1413 at University of Pennsylvania

Amy Korn Duque and Alejandra Torres in High Rise South Room 1413.

Room 1413 High Rise South at the University of Pennsylvania

Room 1413, High Rise South

Marianne Alves Brogdale also sent in a photo of her room in the High Rises, and coincidentally, she was a floor above Amy in Room 1513!

Marianne Alves Brogdale in her room, 1513 High Rise South

Marianne Alves Brogdale in her room, 1513 High Rise South

Dorm room at 1513 High Rise South the University of Pennsylvania in Fall 1989

Bulletin board in Marianne’s room

Room 1513 in High Rise South at the University of Pennsylvania in Fall, 1989

Marianne’s desk

Lower Quad – Community House

Jessica Zirkel-Rubin sent a photo of her room, number 258 in Warwick.

Room 258 Warwick in the Lower Quad, shared by Jessica Zirkel-Rubin, Fall 1989 at Penn

Room 258 Warwick in the Lower Quad, shared by Jessica Zirkel-Rubin

Allison Laney Richards also sent photos from the 2nd floor of Warwick. Allison writes that there was a cheer for the floor, “Warwick 2nd Floor, Who could ask for more. In Volleyball we conquer all.  We’ll Nail you to the floor.”  

Roommates in Warwick, Lower Quad, at University of Pennsylvania in the Fall 1989

Allison and her roommate Jennifer Bloom

dorm room in Warwick in the Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Allison and Jennifer’s room, 2nd floor of Warwick

Warwick 2nd floor dorm room in the Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Allison and Jennifer’s room, 2nd floor of Warwick

dorm room in the 2nd floor of Warwick, the Quadrangle, at the University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Allison and Jennifer’s room

Dorm room door, 2nd floor of Warwick in the Quadrangle at the University of Pennsylvania Fall 1989

The door to Allison and Jennifer’s room

Another photo of Allison and Jennifer. I guess plaid shirts were “in”?

roommates in the lower quad at the University of Pennsylvania Fall 1989

Jennifer and Allison wearing what was “in” back then – plaid shirts.

Some of Allison’s 2nd floor Warwick hallmates: Neil Sheth, Mark Stern, Ed Miller , and Nick ? feast on pizza, something we all ate at least once a week!

lower Quad dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall 1989

Eating the college food staple – pizza – in the Lower Quad

Jim Fleischer and Allison in his room. Allison writes, “Jim lived across the hall from me Freshman year; Regan (Allan) was in my sorority; I introduced them and now they are married.”

Allison Laney Richards and Jim Fleischer were hallmates on the the 2nd floor of Warwick at Penn

Allison Laney Richards and Jim Fleischer were hallmates on the the 2nd floor of Warwick

Jim Fleischer in his room, 2nd floor Warwick, lower Quadrangle, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Jim Fleischer in his room, 2nd floor Warwick.

Greg Fatzinger in his room, 2nd floor Warwick, lower Quadrangle, University of Pennsylvania Fall 1989

Greg Fatzinger in his room, 2nd floor Warwick.

A photo from an “all night drink fest” (party after finals done and before flying home) in a Butcher 2nd floor dorm room. Pictured: Jeff McKibben, Samantha Leventhal, Allison Laney Richards, and Rob Hathaway.

Party in Butcher 2nd floor dorm room, lower Quad, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Pictured: Jeff McKibben, Samantha Leventhal, Allison Laney Richards, and Rob Hathaway.

Kings Court – English House

Christine Lutton Foster had this photo of a sign from her dorm door.

Door sign from Kings Court - English House, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Door sign from Kings Court – English House

Near the Mail Room in the Quad

Meredith Prevor-Weiss sent photos from EF Smith in the Quad.

roommates from the Quadrangle, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Meredith Prevor-Weiss and her roommate Heather Caslow

Chris Van Reid and Paul Arrouet outside on the Junior Balcony, Quadrangle at Penn 1989

Chris Van Reid and Paul Arrouet outside on the Junior Balcony

roommates in the Quad, University of Pennsylvania, Fall 1989

Bryon ? and Adam Bernstein

roommates in the Quadrangle at Penn, Fall 1989

Kathyanne Cohen and Jennifer Friedman

Freshman in the Quadrangle at Penn, 1989, Heather Caslow and Paul Arrouet

Heather Caslow and Paul Arrouet

Roommates Then, Friends Now

Brooke Hayes sent a photo of him and his roommate Jason McLane sitting by Ben on the Bench freshman year. Brooke and Jason lived in Foerderer in Upper Quad. And then Brooke sent a photo with his daughter Cameron (and wife Hilary Marion Hayes, also a classmate) and Jason’s daughter Hannah in the same pose with Ben on the Bench. Cameron and Hannah entered Penn this year as Freshman and are roommates living in Speakman!

Dads at Penn were roommates and now their daughters are freshman roommates

Brooke Hayes and Jason McLane as roommates in 1989 and their daughters as roommates at Penn now!

Danny Bockvar sent a photo of himself, his twin brother Johnny and his roommate Paul Altman (they lived in the Class of ’28) from Freshman year, and then a photo of the three of them today.

Danny and Johnny Bockvar with Paul Altman in Class of '28, Quadrangle, Penn 1989

Danny and Johnny Bockvar with Paul Altman in Class of ’28

Danny and Johnny Bockvar with Paul Altman today.

Danny and Johnny Bockvar with Paul Altman today

Coincidentally, while looking through the scrapbook I made from Freshman year, I found this article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about our class moving in and starting life at Penn. The best part? Paul and Johnny are quoted in the article! I wonder if Paul can tell the difference between the Bockvars now? (If you can’t read the image below, the article is online here).

Article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Penn Class of 1993 moving in to start their Freshman year at Penn

Article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Penn Class of 1993 moving in to start their Freshman year at Penn

We received photos from rooms in the Quad and the High Rises, but we are still seeking photos from Hill House, Kings Court/English House, DuBois or other freshman dorms. And we would love to see more photos of other rooms in the Quad and High Rises. We hope to do another post on freshman dorm rooms so if you have any photos, please send them to us!

Penn Class of 1993 Reunion Countdown

The weekend of November 18-19 marked 77 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 13, 2018)! Join us we countdown the weeks to our reunion #93tothe25th:

  • Do you have old photos or mementos from our time at Penn? Photos of Spring Fling? Football at Franklin Field? Classes at DRL? We are taking a trip down memory lane and would love for you to share your memories with our class in a future post. Please email us upenn1993@gmail.com!
  • Follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Classmates are invited to join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups.

 

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Campus Life, Class of 1993, Kiera R., Memories of Penn, Photos

93 Reasons Why We Love Penn

93 Reasons Why We Love Penn

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

This past weekend, July 29-30, marked 93 weeks until the 25th reunion of the great Penn Class of 1993 (save the date on your calendars for Alumni Weekend May 11 – 13, 2018!). Because time seems to zoom by quickly these days, we will be back on campus before we know it. As we approach the 25th anniversary of our graduation, we will count down each week with a photo, a memory, or a story of our time as undergraduates at Penn: #93tothe25th.

To start our countdown, I asked classmates for a favorite memory, story, or place from our time on campus.

Here are 93 Reasons Why We Love Penn!

  1. Ultimately, when I think of the best part of Penn, I think of friendship! I met *so many wonderful people* at Penn. That’s why I love to go to reunions! It was such a special time in our lives that people we knew for four years could have such a profound impact on who we are and the people we grew into. ~Jennifer Jarrett
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Spring Fling in the Quad, courtesy of Jennifer Jarrett

  1. Move-in day Freshman Year
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Move-in day outside of the Quad, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. Blues Traveller and Indigo Girls at Flings ~Paul Luongo
  2. The one thing I will say is that after nearly 25 years, my memories from Penn are not nearly as clear as I expected. These are some of the things that I remember with fondness. Friends on my freshman hall in the Quad, fun of Hey Day, throwing toast at the football games, and Spring Fling.
  3. Painting the giant wall on the side of the bookstore (the original bookstore!) ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
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The Bookstore Wall, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. Walking down Locust walk on a crisp autumn day
  2. Von Vorys of the Political Science Department had a small seminar class which was amazing. We flew onto the JFK aircraft carrier via carrier on-craft delivery (aka COD) and spent the night aboard. So many other cool experiences thanks to him. So many seemed scared of him but he reminded me of my granddad. ~Debbie Frank
  3. It’s where my parents got engaged (Hill House) 1965, and I got engaged (Locust Walk) 1995. ~Danny Bockvar
  4. Diwali celebrations in the High Rises ~Minal Damani Kundra
  5. Mailboxes at Steinberg-Dietrich Hall ~Kysha Harris
  6. Logan Hall ~Karen Grimm Berry
  7. 222 Franklin in Upper Quad ~Lisa Bardfeld Shapiro
  8. Meeting your roommate for the first time. ~Frank Caccuro
  9. Penn is awesome no matter the season. Fall: trees on Locust Walk; Winter: snowy Sunday nights eating Lee Ann’s in the Quad; Spring: Reading at the Biopond ~Jackie Einstein Astrof
  10. The Palladium

The Palladium on Tuesdays, even though I was too poor to buy the Rolling Rocks. ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck

Toasting Sheldon Hackney on the walk at the Palladium   ~Jefrey Pollock

  1. Celebrating Penn’s 250th alongside my grandfather, Carl Barchfield ’35 ~Christine Lutton Foster
  2. The Feb Club – especially the event where we watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in the packed theater and sang “Twist and Shout” at the top of our lungs ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
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Feb Club ad from the Daily Pennsylvanian, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. Gargoyles on/in the Quad ~Peggy Hamm Kingsley
  2. All my friends on the senior class board ~Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro
  3. Smokey Joe’s: downstairs at Smoke’s and Sink or Swim

 “Who didn’t hate the dreaded ‘Name and Date of Birth’ question at the door of Smoke’s?” ~Aimee Alexander

“Working at Smoke’s and being taught to carry beer pitchers in one hand way up high above the crowd and to accidentally tip over the pitcher to pour beer on unsuspecting patrons who refused to get out of the way when it was crowded.” ~Debbie Frank

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Smokey Joe’s, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. The comedy, solidarity and unexpected diversity of DuBois College House. ~Martin Dias
  2. Billy Bob’s runs for cheesesteaks, cheese fries and an extra thick milkshake
  3. Seeing Jerry Seinfeld before he was Seinfeld ~Karen Grimm Berry
  4. Having a pet cat in High Rise South…and smuggling him in and out through the turnstiles in a backpack ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  5. Coach Stafferi driving the football helmet on campus ~Frank Caccuro
  6. The Monday Night at the Movies course ~Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro
  7. Remember studying at Rosengarten? We started calling it, “kindergarten,” because we didn’t study down there, we played. I remember classmates getting dressed nicer and putting on make-up to “go study” and possibly flirt! ~Lincoln Singleton
  8. Some of my best friends 28 years later ~Mitchell Kraus
  9. Murphy’s Tavern (Murph’s) and, “See you in church!”

The proprietor at Murph’s telling me (a devout secularist) he’ll see me in church every time I left his bar…which was a lot. ~James Asali

  1. Econ Scream! ~Joel Yarbrough
  2. Performing our Bollywood Dance at Senior Performing Arts Night and receiving a standing ovation from our Class of ’93 classmates ~Minal Damani Kundra
  3. Hillary Clinton speaking at our graduation

 

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First Lady Hillary Clinton, Interim President Clair Fagin, President Sheldon Hackney, during Commencement, May, 1993, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. Broadcasting live from UTV studios and serenading a special lady with my tone-deaf singing! ~Stephen Golden
  2. Ivy Stones ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  3. My favorite class was an Honors English Seminar, “Expatriate Americans in Paris after World War I,” taught by Prof Robert Lucid. It really had an impact on me, especially as a biology major/premed student. I did not take that many Humanities classes at Penn, but it is interesting that those are the classes that I remember most. That English class as well as a Folklore class were my favorites. I wrote a paper on Josephine Baker for that class that I still have today!
  4. Loved watching the Quakers basketball games at the Palestra and seeing the beloved Fran Dunphy coaching our team to a Win. ~Aimee Alexander
  5. Walking out of the DP offices at sunrise the morning after Bill Clinton’s election, having just finished putting together that issue of the newspaper. ~Christine Lutton Foster
  6. Hey Day
  7. My Bloomers women and “Bageldawg!” (spoof of a Houston Hall dining creation) ~Kysha Harris
  8. “Come on Eileen,” sung by Pennsylvania 6-5000 ~Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro
  9. Florescent party invitations – printed at Kinkos and cut into fourths ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  10. Beijing ~Deb Brown
  11. Friendships that last a lifetime! ~Karen Grimm Berry
  12. There was once a fine restaurant in Philadelphia on 39th between Chestnut and Walnut. It was called Troy’s. They sold beer and wine coolers to anyone. They made the most magnificent sandwich called an “eggel.” It was a fried egg with cheese slapped on it wedged in a bagel. Sometimes the perfect sunny-side up yolk could be seen through the bagel hole. It was divine! Especially if you had been drinking said beer (usually Rolling Rock) or wine coolers (California or Seagram’s Golden Wine)! ~Lincoln Singleton
  13. We all loved the early spring…when it was just warm enough – we’d all come out in shorts and our PENN sweatshirts and feel so happy about the break in the weather. ~Julie Berliner Bell
  14. Doing the DP crossword during lectures ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
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Crossword Puzzle from the DP courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. I love Penn because of Venus and Void, the Penn Women’s and Men’s Ultimate frisbee teams. So many of my best memories from Penn involve the amazing folks I played Ultimate with! ~Chris Lehmann
  2. I have wonderful memories of meeting my Kings Court floormates freshman year, from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, and stumbling through the beginnings of college life with them. ~Caren Lissner
  3. Food
    • Philly pretzels with mustard from the food trucks ~Howard Blecher and Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro
    • Tequila’s (best Mexican restaurant you could walk to from campus)
    • International House for quick bites. ~Howard Blecher
    • Broccoli & cheese stuffed chicken breasts and the banana mini chocolate chip cake at 1920 Commons ~Kysha Harris
    • Love the BBQ chicken pizza at Boccie
    • Lee Anh’s food truck ~Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro
    • Stouffer Dining ~Jefrey Pollock
  4. The camaraderie of Unrenovated Quad (“Just Say No…to Renovation!” t-shirts!) — Butcher/Speakman/Class of ’28 rules!!! ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck and Kysha Harris
  5. Learning how to become our own teachers for lifelong learning. Once I learned how to read Ulysses, I felt like I could learn how to read just about anything. ~Jennifer Jarrett
  6. Tri Delt Woodser
  7. All the wonderful friends who changed my life ~Peggy Hamm Kingsley
  8. Studying at Furness Library and trying not to be distracted by the beauty of that building! ~Minal Damani Kundra
  9. Being initiated into Sphinx ~Christine Lutton Foster
  10. Raiding the Sigma Chi house during Derby Days in the wee hours of the morning to steal the trophy and being yelled out by one of the members for spraying him with a water gun. He had an electric blanket. I think we got disqualified. ~Debbie Frank
  11. I can say, unlike Donald Trump, I went to the College and not Wharton ~Mitchell Kraus
  12. Street Society column ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
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Street Society column from the Daily Pennsylvanian, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. The buzz around campus the week before classes start and reuniting with friends after a long summer apart
  2. Spring Fling 1992, the band Chaos Theory covering Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” getting down and dirty in the muddy mosh pit at the party they were playing! ~Gene Park
  3. Mask and Wig: late nights at the M&W Clubhouse with the group, exploring Irvine Auditorium (yes, many of us climbed to the top).
  4. Conquering De-Sci; having to sign up to use the Computer Room ~Kysha Harris
  5. Singing Highball at the Games. One of my friends always supplied the toast. ~Lincoln Singleton
  6. Art History in the art museum
  7. Phi Kap’s “safe sex parties” ~Frank Caccuro
  8. The professors who taught you using the textbooks they wrote ~Karen Grimm Berry
  9. Browsing every frat party and Smokes until we found our friends (before cell phones!) ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  10. Walk of Shame ~Frank Caccuro
  11. The nexus of lifetime friendships ~Kysha Harris
  12. All-nighters studying in Skolnicks ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  13. Watching the football games from the horseshoe upper deck at Franklin Field. ~Aimee Alexander
  14. In the spring, laying out and attempting to get a tan on our roof, affectionately known as, “Tar Beach,” (4042 Walnut). ~Caroline Waxler
  15. Kurt Vonnegut speaking. ~Paul Luongo
  16. Trips to Pats
  17. The Quad streak
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Streaking in the Quad, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

  1. Penn Band ~Lisa Bardfeld Shapiro
  2. Meeting my husband – David Foster, Engineering ’93 ~Christine Lutton Foster
  3. The joy seen in DRL (and hundreds of printed numbers on computer printouts lining the walls) when another digit of “pi” was discovered ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  4. Hassan Duncombe vs Princeton (basketball) ~Jefrey Pollock
  5. Penn was all about the people. Favorite memories come from when people get together and the “Do you remember when we…” conversations start. It could be huge events like Move-In Day, Hey Day, Ice skating, Sink or Swim, etc. Or just small thing like playing in the Quad (soccer, Dave Ades hitting golf balls), hanging out on College Green, running the streets of Philadelphia…
  6. The diversity in my academic experience and relationships. I came to Penn intending to major in psychology, but credit Dr. Alvin Rubinstein’s dynamic international politics class with altering my life’s trajectory. His was the one class where I leaned forward, hanging on every word and furiously scribbling notes. Dr. Rubinstein’s research focused on Soviet and Russian foreign policy and his, and Dr. Frank Plantan’s mentorship, led to my change in major to International Relations and Russian, study in Moscow, and—ultimately—a career in national security.  ~Marianne Alves Brogdale
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Prof. Rubenstein’s book and Marianne studying in the USSR, courtesy of Marianne Alves Brogdale

  1. Walnut Walk ~Mitchell Kraus
  2. The express elevator at High Rise North ~Karen Grimm Berry
  3. Lightweight football at Franklin Field sticks in my mind–the uniqueness and speed was appealing. ~Howard Blecher
  4. Getting stranded in Jamaica with about 50 other classmates at the end of Spring Break, and fighting over who would get the last free hotel room ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck
  5. When I walked into Billy Bob’s late one night sophomore year to get a cheese steak, and my best friend Carter Crum said to (my now husband) Chip, “Hey, you’ve got to meet my friend Weiss. You’ll really like her.” ~Allison Weiss Brady

 

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Allison Weiss Brady and Chip Brady, courtesy of Allison Weiss Brady

  1. Parties at Bodek Lounge and the Castle ~Kysha Harris
  2. Meet me at the Button ~Peggy Hamm Kingsley
  3. Actually having to go to Van Pelt to do research (we’re old… Pre-internet)
  4. Meatloaf at Fling ~Jefrey Pollock
  5. Princeton at Penn basketball, 1993 ~David Foster
  6. Watching the seasons change on Locust Walk. The leaves in autumn, snow in the winter, people in shorts on the first warm spring day and the respite from a warm Philadelphia summer created by the tree canopy. ~Peggy Hamm Kingsley
  7. It was the only time in my life that I was 100% my authentic self, and my friends loved me anyway, flaws and all. ~Chrissy Bass Hofbeck

If you are a member of the Penn Class of 1993, please join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. We are also on Twitter, Tumblr, and recently joined Instagram.

And don’t forget to save the date of our 25th reunion on your calendar: May 11 – 13, 2018!

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Class of 1993, Kiera R., Memories of Penn

My 25 Year Penn Reunion: Living an “As Is” life in a world that only wants “So Perfect!”

Author:  Lisa Niver Rajna, C’89

Wandering on Madison Ave in Manhattan last week, I noticed paparazzi everywhere. After asking, a woman told us, with tears in her eyes, that JLo was eating lunch. I would have missed her. She did not look “So Perfect” but she is stunning. As I left New York City for Philadelphia for my twenty-five year college reunion, I have been thinking about what have I done and what do I want for the next twenty-five years!

In a life filled with product placement where JLo is lifting her Coca-Cola glass so many times per hour on American Idol, our lives have been given a structure that we might not purchase if it were not so insidious.

In As Is by Rachel Michael Arends, the story is told through several narrators and Arends is able to share deep perspectives about how people with different lifestyles lock themselves into their own cage about money, sexuality, and professions of what they think that want and should own and should do.

Through Arends’ intriguing characters, we are able to wonder and wander. Is it a good choice to be an artist? Is it okay to defer your dream to care for your father? Most of the interactions and characters would have accepted the decisions of their friend or family member if they had only been told. Fear made nearly every character in this book withhold their personal truth.

Hiding themselves made them seem like a cheap imitation of what they could have brought to the table. Choosing to be courageous and wish for what they really wanted and reach out to receive it often only comes after tragedy and hardship but hopefully Rachel Michael Arends’ novel gives you the hope to share your story and live a life painted fully without regrets.

Early in the novel, Gwendolyn says: “On television it can look glamorous, and perhaps some people would love this lifestyle. But I don’t,” I wondered what didn’t she like? And who was she really?

Wandering the parade and picnic at the University of Pennsylvania, I thought what would life be like if we did not pretend. Gwendolyn believes that Armand “actually enjoys being So Perfect all the time,” it gave me pause to think about who do I know who resembles that remark and do they feel like Gwendolyn that “it just seems wrong, incongruous, and unnatural,” and more of a cage than a life.

There were many buttons to wear at Reunion: “I met my wife at Penn,” “<3 Penn,” and “Don’t worry, I don’t remember you either!” Maybe several alums felt like Gwendolyn: “I find it scary and unnerving when strangers approach me as if we’re old friends. I don’t like to worry about what I wear, if my hair and makeup look good enough (according to Armand they never do), what I say, or how I say it. I prefer to stay at home behind our high fences, inside our security system.”

w/ Joyce Lim Twomey

w/ Joyce Lim Twomey

 

She has been told by Trey, her producer, “I’m lucky to have this job, that anyone in her right mind would want it.” At an Ivy League institution, in marriage or in many other settings, we are sold that line about being lucky. I went to medical school because I was smart in science. Like Gwendolyn I felt, “I don’t want to let anyone down…[but] I’m beginning to fear that I’ll be trapped in this mansion forever.” We sometimes become embroiled in a labyrinth or career and we seem to be stuck. Breaking out of the mold and consciously taking a different path can be a struggle but isn’t the freedom, to be who we really are, worth it?

When we become lost from our selves, we often need someone like Gwendolyn’s sister, Megan, to ask us: “What’s your plan? Are you going back there?” We all want to have someone in our life that we can tell as Gwendolyn does, “You’re like an island of sanity in the craziest day I’ve ever had.” It is possible we have those people already if we would only be honest with them about how we feel and what we need. Most of us keep our wounds and concerns a secret only sharing what we think looks “So Perfect” to the constant measuring up on Instagram and Pinterest.

When one character with a cane walks on a floor above Gwendolyn with a sliding sound, she muses, “It’s strange to think of carrying your damage on the outside where everyone can see it.” What if we shared our fears and foibles on Facebook and not just our fairytales that come true? Carrie, a character who is a fan of Gwendolyn on television but becomes a true friend in the story, shares, “The biggest thing I’ve learned over the course of this year is that life is one big surprise after another, and maybe I should loosen up and try my best to roll with it.” As I walked the parade on Saturday standing in between the two wonderful women who were my college roommates, I realized that I am so lucky in both an “as is” and “so perfect” way to have walked this road surrounded by people who know what I look life in real life and want to be friends anyway! Whether there are tears of joy or sadness, they have always run to my side, whenever I am ready to share this rollercoaster of life.

Arends’ character, Armand, realizes that “As Is,” could be his “motto for acceptance. Not an excuse to settle necessarily, but a reminder that at a certain point, you just need to say, OK, enough is enough! I’m sick of chasing the dream of perfection and that’s not a failure.”

Gwendolyn does believe in fate, as she says, “You have to. I just saw a falling star out the window and I wished for you. When I looked up, there you were!” In some ways like the movies, we want to say, “I wished for you” and for the person to appear. What if you are really wishing for yourself to stand up, take up space and live your dreams? I wish for you that you are inspired to pause and think about your own parade and find a path that leads you to yourself and the fulfillment of your best dreams.

w/Barbara Yorke

w/Barbara Yorke

About the Author: Lisa Niver Rajna (CAS 1989) was honored to walk in graduation on May 19, 2014 with her classmates from twenty-five years ago! Learn more about her journeys at WeSaidGoTravel.com and ScienceisntScary.net.

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Filed under 25th Reunion, Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Commencement, Lisa Ellen Niver, Memories of Penn, Penn Alumni Travel, Penn Park, Reunions, Traditions

Congratulations to the Class of 2014

Author: Janell Wiseley

 

Comm-6comm-8Comm-5Comm-3

comm-4Comm-7Comm-2

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Filed under Academics, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Alumnni Education, Campus Life, Commencement, Janell W., Leaving Penn, Locust Walk Talk, Memories of Penn, Reunions, Sweeten Alumni House, Traditions, Uncategorized, View from Sweeten

I’ll Be Seeing You

Author: Carolyn Grace, C’16

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It’s been a week of “lasts” here at dear old Penn – yesterday was my last chapter meeting with Sigma Kappa, today was my last day of classes, and Friday will be my last rehearsal with Counterparts.  Normally, I’d be excited for the closing of yet another school year.  Summer’s just around the corner, and I’ll get to spend it with so many of my friends who are choosing to stay in Philly!  But for one reason or another, I don’t feel that excited.  At least not right now.

Maybe it’s the rain (sorry, I mean MONSOON) outside.  Maybe it’s the looming papers and final exams that I have in the next couple weeks.  Or maybe it’s the realization that I’ll be boarding a plane next semester instead of driving 45 minutes to move back on campus.  Whatever it is, I’m sad to be nearing the end of my sophomore year.  It was hard getting back into the swing of things when I returned to campus this past August, and it by no means got any easier.  But in spite of all that, I can say with confidence that it was better than my freshman year.  I was presented with new and exciting opportunities, and more importantly I met new and exciting people, people who I am honored to call close friends.

I found this picture in my room earlier this afternoon:

It’s the first picture of me from this academic year, the first day of NSO to be exact.  I definitely had no idea what the year was going to be like, but that didn’t stop me from goofing off with my friends!  That seems to be the best way for me to combat the anxiety of not knowing, acting silly.  Hopefully, I can keep a similar lightheartedness as I enter my semester abroad next year.

I wonder what my last picture from sophomore year will look like.  I guess I don’t really need to know right now.  There’s fun in not knowing.

Until next year, dear Quakers.  I’ll be seeing you.  Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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Filed under Academics, Campus Life, Carolyn G., Clubs, Memories of Penn, Penn in the Summer, Photos, Student Perspective, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Video, Videos

Penn Traditions: The Good, The Bad, and THE RED & THE BLUE!

Author: Nicole Svonavec GEd ‘09

Every college student takes part in traditions on their campus as part of a unifying undergraduate experience.  I’ve attended and worked at several colleges so far, and Penn’s traditions stand out for their uniqueness, mass appeal, and staying power.  Experiences like Hey Day, Spring Fling, and taking a photo with your boo at the LOVE statue, have stood the test of time.  Creative Class Boards, Penn Traditions students, and other student leaders are forming new traditions (shout out to Holifest!) every year.

On the other hand, some traditions have faded into history.  And let’s be real, I’m feeling okay about that.  While I love reminiscing with our Old Guard alumni about retired traditions from their Penn days, I see a few good reasons to keep these in the archives:

“The Bowl Fight”

Although these strapping young lads look quite happy in the photo (from 1905), The Bowl Fight stands as one of Penn’s most historic, but also most sketchy traditions.  I’m not sure which one of these students was elected to be shoved INSIDE that bowl by his peers, but I would cry seeing our fabulous freshmen and sophomore duking-it-out on College Green in present-day.  Final verdict: This tradition is one of Penn’s best (craziest) stories, but a happily retired one.

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

“The Poster Fight”

(Note how many of these old traditions include the word “fight.”  Thankfully the advent of Pottruck Gymnasium seems to have given students a more productive outlet for their pent-up energy).  1905 was a busy year for traditions, and The Poster Fight stands as another fine example of class rivalries at their best/most intense.  The poster below (located in Sweeten Alumni House – come visit!) shows how “no blow was too low” when asserting your eminence over other classes.  Hopefully they all hugged it out at the end of the day.

poster fight3

“Kissing the Boot”
Everyone loves a good freshman rite-of-passage, but the 1940s-50s tradition of kissing Ben Franklin’s boot outside of Weightman Hall strikes me as a bit unsanitary.  Good thing freshman carried this out in early fall, because kissing a metal boot in the winter seems like it could cause the same nightmare as getting your tongue stuck to the flagpole in elementary school (Note: this did NOT happen to me, whew).

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

Photo and facts courtesy of Collections of the University Archives and Records Center

The Penn Traditions program is currently working on a new event (to launch in fall 2014) aiming to teach current students about some of these hilarious/spirited/dangerous traditions of the past.  If you took part in a really fun tradition on campus during your time at Penn, email svonavec@upenn.edu so we can include it in our event!

*Thanks to the Penn Archives and Under the Button for inspiring this post!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Historical, Memories of Penn, Nicole S., Traditions, Uncategorized, yPenn

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Author: Liz Pinnie

Yesterday a friend from Admissions stopped by the Interview Program Office for a cup of coffee during his break from sitting in committee (yes, it’s that time of year!).  As he melted into a chair and took a slug of his coffee, we started to chat about his impressions on reading hundreds upon hundreds of interviews.

What has recently struck J. about interview reports is the ability of interviewers- of all Penn class years and schools- to touch upon those certain qualities that makes Penn Penn, and a Quaker a Quaker.  Interviews took place via skype, phone, and in person conversation all over the world this year- from Dubai to Detroit, from Slovakia to Santa Monica- from alumni ranging in age from 22 to 85.

In 64 years, there have been a few changes at Penn- a transition from typewriters to computers to tablets, the conversion from Penn-specific building to community oriented growth in West Philadelphia, the evolution from weekly letters home to dorm hall phone calls to texts, the creation of Locust Walk as a pedestrian thoroughfare, the full integration of women to the University, and growth through eight different Presidents (among a few other changes- The Arch, anyone!?).

However, what we’re seeing from interview reports is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Throughout Penn’s past, a passion for activity both inside and outside of the classroom has remained, along with a desire for growth in knowledge, a hunger for integration, and excitement for innovation.

Over 12,000 of your fellow alumni are discovering students with these indelible Penn qualities from all over the world through interviews- if you’d like to help, join the Interview Program by clicking here, and share with us what you think makes a Quaker a Quaker.

 

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Filed under Campus Life, Historical, Interview Program, Liz P., Memories of Penn, Uncategorized, Volunteering