Category Archives: Nicole M.


Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

One day, during my freshman year, I was sketching one of the beautiful trees in front of my new home, Du Bois College House. Another student saw me, stopped, looked at my sketchbook and said, “You’re an artist? I thought you were in Wharton.” This is a true story.

Me at 17 with my trusty scrunchie, and many of the jean jackets I painted for friends throughout high school. My AP Art teacher would let me work on these in the studio during study halls. Thanks, Mr. Scott!

Rather than take this moment to address our long and unfortunate history of school-based stereotyping, I will focus on my current endeavors to make art as big a part of my life as it once was. I am taking better advantage of my resources here in Philadelphia, starting with a course at Fleisher Art Memorial, which is dedicated to making art education available to anyone who wants it. My membership there comes with free admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which I always love to visit; each time I go, I realize that I need to go more often. Seriously, any museum that houses both French Impressionism and medieval weaponry is alright with me. I have finally visited the Barnes Foundation, and the collection there is just jaw-dropping. I was overwhelmed anew as I entered each room. And how can anyone mention Philadelphia and art without highlighting the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program? No tickets required. Just turn a corner and enjoy what you see.

If you are interested in the visual arts – making it, gazing at it, or both – are you taking advantage of what your city has to offer you? If not, it is never too late to start! Here are a few treats for those living in, or visiting, Philadelphia.

  •  The mission of the Fleisher Art Memorial is to make art accessible to everyone, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience. Extra incentive: tuition-free classes for kids and adults.
  • As one of the largest museums in the United States, the Philadelphia Museum of Art invites visitors from around the world to explore its renowned collections, acclaimed special exhibitions, and enriching programs, both in person and online. Extra incentive: first Sunday of each month: Pay what you wish all day (10 AM-5 PM). Museum visiting info here.
  • Celebrated for its exceptional breadth, depth, and quality, the Barnes Foundation’s art collection includes works by some of the greatest European and American masters of impressionism, post-impressionist, and early modern art, as well as African sculpture, Pennsylvania German decorative arts, Native American textiles, metalwork, and more. Extra incentive: free first Sundays 1-6 PM – registration required. Additional details here.
  • The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program unites artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives.  Since it began, the Mural Arts Program has produced over 3,000 murals which have become a cherished part of the civic landscape and a great source of inspiration to the millions of residents and visitors who encounter them each year. It’s already free to observe, so extra incentive in this case involves learning more about it. Take a tour.

I would be remiss not to include Lisa Marie’s Frankly Penn post on Penn’s own Institute of Contemporary Art, so check it out!



Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Nicole M., The Arts, The Arts at Penn

What You’ve Been Missing: Penn Museum 125

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

One of Penn’s most exciting resources is one that many students and alumni have never explored. Now there is a new way for you to see what you may have been missing.

The University of Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is a gem, with permanent and traveling exhibits that offer access to rare and fascinating items from around the world. In honor of the Museum’s 125th anniversary, 125 objects in the collection are being featured on the Museum’s blog under the tag “Object of the Day.” This began on June 15, so take a look at what has been highlighted so far, and watch for an additional piece each weekday through the Museum’s birthday on December 6. Wherever you are now, don’t miss this easy chance to familiarize yourself with an amazing center of knowledge at your own alma mater.

Attic red figure amphora from Athens, Greece, around 490 BCE, featuring a winged Nike, goddess of victory.

Attic red figure amphora from Athens, Greece, around 490 BCE, featuring a winged Nike, goddess of victory.

This funerary/guardian figure from Gabon, on the West coast of Central Africa, is made of wood covered in sheets of copper and brass.

This funerary/guardian figure from Gabon, on the West coast of Central Africa, is made of wood covered in sheets of copper and brass.

Satin Mandarin square from the Qing Dynasty, China (19th century) depicting a Qilin, a mythical horse-like animal reserved for the weaves of first rank military officers.

Satin Mandarin square from the Qing Dynasty, China (19th century) depicting a Qilin, a mythical horse-like animal reserved for the weaves of first rank military officers.

This Egyptian statue from 1479-1458 BCE is made of sandstone, and pigment remains on the wig, face and hands.

This Egyptian statue from 1479-1458 BCE is made of sandstone, and pigment remains on the wig, face and hands.

You can find even more items via the Penn Museum’s new Online Collections Database, but the “Object of the Day” blog feature is great place to start. Check it out, and remember to build in a visit next time you return to campus so you, friends, and family can learn about objects like these, among many, many more.

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Filed under Historical, Nicole M., Penn Museum, Photos, Uncategorized

Hurrah, Hurrah, A-Antarctica

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

As Philadelphia finds itself at the beginning of yet another heat wave, and as much of the nation has experienced record heat this summer, I thought I’d take you on a little trip with me through time and space to someplace just a bit cooler. In February 2008, I was fortunate enough to host a Penn Alumni Travel trip to Antarctica. Coolest moment (no pun intended, but it stays): being out on our Zodiac raft when three humpback whales decided to hang out with us. I casually asked the Naturalist driving us if there was any history of whales overturning a Zodiac raft. He shrugged. I tightened my life vest. A few of my video clips of those whales are below. I will never forget this trip, and my temperature has dropped a few degrees just looking at these photos again. May they have the same effect on you.

I love that the coats they gave us match our flag! If they’d been certain other colors, I think some alumni might have braved the cold for this photo.

One of my favorite shots of the trip. This Gentoo penguin chick walked up, stopped and looked at me before moving on.

Molting Adelie penguin chick teaches me a new dance.

This penguin chick walked right up to this guy and stopped. I tried to tell him, but he was too focused on taking photos of the penguins in front of him to hear me. So I started taking photos. Then his wife, approaching with that group on the left, starts pointing down at his feet. Then he looked down…

Oh, hello.

Three humpback whales befriend our raft. The woman sitting next to me is really, really excited about it.

Humpback whales are identified by the patterns on the underside of their tails. One of the Naturalists asked for this video because she didn’t think they’d seen this one before. And here I was thinking it was cool enough just to see it dive!

The ice. I still can’t believe I saw this with my own eyes.

Bottom of the world, Ma!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Nicole M., Penn Alumni Travel, Photos, Travel

Alumnae Paths: Spotlight on the 1990’s

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

Written for the University of Pennsylvania Association of Alumnae Spring 2012 Newsletter in honor of the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Eight women who graduated from Penn in the 1990’s take a moment to share what brought them to Penn, what they’ve been up to since then, and what bits of wisdom they’ve picked up along the way. Representing fields from law to education, from health care to the arts, these fabulous women are all taking steps to leave the world better than they found it. Keep doing our alma mater proud, ladies. Note: our next newsletter will feature alumnae from another decade. Watch for it!

Meet some of your sisters in Red & Blue!

• Stephanie Renée, W’91 – Broadcaster
• Mary Beth Kochman, C’95 – Teacher
• Lucy Ramos Miller, C’97 – General Magistrate
• Jenny Chung, W’97 – Country Club CEO
• Angela Jimenez, C’97 – Photographer
• Bleema (Moskowitz) Bershad, W’95 – Marketing Entrepreneur
• Candra Wooten, C’97 – Physician
• Jordana Horn Gordon, C’95 – Writer

Stephanie Renée, W’91 – Broadcaster

Why did you choose Penn?
I attended a business magnet program in high school and was part of only the 2nd graduating class from the initiative. My school administrators drilled Wharton into my head when it was time to apply for college, and thankfully Penn and Philadelphia filled all of my other requirements for what I was looking for in my college experience. My acceptance package sealed the deal.

What did you study?
I initially arrived as a Finance major, but quickly understood that a life of number crunching was not my preference. I switched to Marketing immediately, and later added Legal Studies as a second concentration at the advice of a professor who saw great potential in me for a possible future in law.

What activities meant the most to you as a student, and why?
Penn Gospel Choir was my artistic refuge after making a pretty difficult adjustment to college life my first semester. As a spiritual center and creative outlet, I desperately needed Gospel Choir to feel grounded and a part of a welcome community. But all of my artistic activities significantly impacted my life. My junior year, I had the pleasure of being one of the founding members of The Inspiration a cappella group, and I also directed Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls with the Penn Black Arts League (now known as the African American Arts Alliance, or 4A). Those two events profoundly changed my life for the better, and let me know that I had to pursue careers with arts as a main focus.

How did you get involved in radio?
My first corporate job after Penn was as a copywriter and broadcast producer for a local ad agency. I was called in to voice a last-minute PSA, interviewed with the company and was hired a week later. I would often spec read the spots I had written for clients, and eventually many of them asked if I could record them for the actual broadcasts. That, plus some encouragement from WRTI-FM’s J. Michael Harrison, led me to begin hosting my own radio programs.

Tell us about your current position, and your path to it.
At WURD, I had been a frequent fill-in host for my buddy Al Butler, who hosts the afternoon drive slot. I have also worked professionally with several of the station’s administrative heads in other capacities. Unfortunately, this past February, one of the station’s hosts–Fatimah Ali–passed away suddenly, which left WURD scrambling for a solution to fill her slot. I was one of the people on a short list to audition for the slot and after several weeks of hosting shows, interviews/meetings and positive feedback from the public, I became the chosen one.

What other professional activities have you been involved in since graduation?
I quit my day job at the ad agency in December 1998, and have been actively working as a performer and teaching artist ever since. I did a stint of three years in professional musical theater in Philadelphia and New York. I began writing and singing house (dance) music and got to travel to Singapore as a resident vocalist for a new club there. I’ve been a consultant with several non-profit organizations to provide media and creative writing curriculum to teens. I design diversity training programs for colleges and non-profit agencies. I’ve filmed my first documentary and held screenings across the country and on cable TV. I’ve helped refine a World Readiness curriculum for the Restorative Justice branch of Philadelphia Mural Arts, where my students are recently paroled offenders age 25 and under. I actively work as a voiceover artist and instructor. I could go on, but the bottom line is that I am blessed to use my creative energies every single day and I love it!

How has your connection to Penn impacted your life, both personally and professionally?
My high school counselor told me clearly before graduation that my college friends would be the friends I’d have for life, and she couldn’t have been more correct. Penn people are the backbone of everything I do, from my professional connections to the lasting friendships that consistently lift me up and push me forward. Philadelphia can be a hard place on people who were not born and raised here, but the Penn network I’ve developed over the years have always been an open and welcome resource for me to accomplish my goals. DC is my birthplace, but Penn and the larger Philadelphia community have raised me into adulthood.

What advice do you have for other women interested in pursuing a profession similar to yours?
I would advise any women who desire a career in communications to be a sponge and be relentless. It is essential that you know a good amount of information about just about anything. You have to be outgoing, knowledgeable and ubiquitous. The more people see and hear of you in the right places opens all kinds of avenues for you to be included in future personal and professional development opportunities. Many of my current coworkers have been former clients of mine in another incarnation. Good relationships do not die.

Any last words of wisdom to your Penn sistren?
Penn is a bottomless well of opportunity, if you stay current on University initiatives and find a way to stay connected. My work in Alumni Relations has been such a wonderful way to explore my creative pursuits and to offer insights as to how current students’ experiences can be enhanced by more alumni involvement. Penn isn’t just about pursuing a degree; it is a lifelong connection for education, fulfillment and growth.

Read about the other featured Penn alumnae in our Spotlight on the 1990s!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Profile, Alumni Programming, Nicole M.

Penn Alumni Haiku Reflections

by Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

I was inspired to write a few Penn-related haiku for today’s blog post, and so I’ve done. Then I thought I’d write a snappy intro. I was all ready to declare today Haiku Day. Why? Because it’s April 13, and 4+13=17, the number of syllables in a standard, 5-7-5 haiku. But then I thought I should look that up to be sure there isn’t already another Haiku Day. Guess what? It’s on April 17 (go figure – it works, but I like mine better). More importantly, April happens to be National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month poster

Seven syllables:
"National Poetry Month."
Coincidence? Naaah.

It turns out that today is a good day for haiku. That said, ANY day is a good day for haiku. As several of the Penn and Philadelphia stories closest to my heart have appeared right here in this blog, I hearken back to some of those topics below. It’s like my own little TV series clip show, but with blog posts.

In honor of the national festivities, I hope you will be inspired to write a haiku of your own, about anything. Then share it with someone. ‘Tis the season. Don’t be shy. If you choose to write one on some element of your Penn experience, feel free to share it right here in the comments section. Onward!

Early Decision
Applied to one school.
Thankfully, I did get in.
Celebration time!

Varsity Women’s Track & Field
Upon reflection,
I sure spent a lot of time
jumping over stuff.

Du Bois College House
Countless memories.
Living. Laughing. Loving my
home away from home.

Influential Teachers
American Lit
will nevermore be the same.
Thank you, Mr. King.

The Inspiration (Penn R&B a capella group)
Family. Both part and whole,
bigger than myself.

Semester in Lyon, France
Parlez vous français?”
“Alors, beaucoup plus qu’avant.
Merci, Penn abroad!”

something old and something new;
always more to see.

Bonus Haiku: Cheesesteaks
No more Billybobs 😦
At least I have Jim’s on South
and, of course, Abner’s.


Filed under Alumni Perspective, Memories of Penn, Nicole M., Uncategorized

The Secret Lives of Sweeten Staff, Part I

Author: Liz Pinnie

In my short time here at Sweeten, I have come to see the skill and passion with which my colleagues do their jobs.  However, one of my favorite aspects of said colleagues (beyond the fact that they bring in chocolate for everyone to share) is learning about the many fascinating things they do when they leave our doors.  As I began research for this article I realized that there was too much information for just one blog post, so today we’ll focus on half of our impressive third floor in Part One of… The Secret Lives of Sweeten Staff.

First off, we have our multi-talented Director of Multi-Cultural Outreach, Nicole Maloy.  A few years ago, she happened to walk by a Shotokan Karate Dojo, went inside, and discovered a new passion.  Nicole says that Karate has increased her awareness and has taught her how “to relax and focus completely- both mentally and physically- on one thing at one moment in time.”  Today, Nicole is a black belt in Karate, and though she knows she can crush any opponent, Nicole appreciates that Shotokan teaches one to end a conflict rather than start one.  Beyond her Shotokan black belt, Nicole is also a fantastic high jumper and a champion salsa dancer- but more on that later!

Love our Twitter feed? Use our website?  If so, you have Sweeten’s own Internet guru, Lisa Marie Patzer, to thank.  As Assistant Director of Communications at Sweeten, Lisa Marie is constantly keeping us up-to-date with the ever changing technology of the web and social media.  This interest continues and expands once she leaves work.  As a new media artist, Lisa Marie spends time and her artistic talents looking at the effects of new media in our world and how it relates to the human experience.  In this capacity, she enjoys “exploring the political, social and interpersonal implications of new media technologies.”  Lisa Marie’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and can next be seen in the collaborative piece she is creating for her MFA from Temple in Film and Media Arts, where she “investigates the performance of identity in online and off-line social communities.”

Another treasure tucked away on the third floor is the quiet and unassuming Jason Strohl.  By day, Jason is our Assistant Director of Communications, and my personal food truck knowledge source.  By night, he takes to the stage as bassist of Wigwam’s, one of Philly’s favorite post-punk bands.  If you go to check out his band at one of the local venues you might not recognize Sweeten’s very own Clark Kent; Jason is far too active onstage to wear his glasses.  When Jason’s not performing or working, you can find him in the back bays of New Jersey, where he likes to sit for hours drinking soda and fishing for bass.  In fact, he typically arranges an annual Fishing Derby (which sounds like just about the best way to spend a spring Sunday).  If you’re in the fishing mood, make sure you pick up a bag of Sea Life Gummies for your trip (a Strohl good luck charm) and if you’re in the mood for post punk, check out Wigwam’s at Johnny Brenda’s on April 6.

Impressed?  You should be!  And guess what- I’m not even half way through our staff.  Among others, we’ve still got a hidden DJ, two published authors, a marathoner, two bridal show models, a civil engineer, and a cheerleader to go!  Can you guess who’s who?!   Stay tuned for next month’s Part Two of…..The Secret Lives of Sweeten Staff [insert dramatic music here].


Filed under Jason S., Lisa Marie Patzer, Liz P., Multicultural Outreach, Nicole M., Notable Alumni, The Sweeten Life

It’s Thank Your Favorite Professor Day!

Author: Nicole Maloy, W’95

A year or so ago, near the Penn bookstore, I spotted the professor of my favorite course ever at Penn. I debated whether or not to bother him, especially as he wouldn’t have remembered me from the large lecture I had taken with him so many years before.

But what professor wouldn’t want to know that a former student really enjoyed that class, and remembers it well over a decade later? How can that not be a positive addition to someone’s day? So, I walked over, introduced myself, told him, and thanked him. Didn’t hurt a bit. And yes, he was very pleasantly surprised.

So, fellow alumni, I ask you: what was your favorite course at Penn? Who was your favorite professor? Why not send a little note to say what you appreciated about the course, or the professor, that you still remember so fondly as an alum? Today would be a great day for you to make someone else’s day.

If the professor you have in mind is still teaching at Penn, you should find an e-mail address here.


Prof still at Penn? Fabulous. Now you can send a message, just because. Prof no longer at Penn? He or she may be teaching somewhere else these days. Do a search. It’s worth a shot.

If you’re inspired to spread more good cheer after that, or if you can’t find your professor without crossing into stalker territory (please don’t cross into stalker territory), then why not redirect your efforts to finding and thanking a favorite teacher from your years prior to Penn? You can also use this energy to tell some key people from your present just what, and how much, you appreciate about them. No need to wait a decade or more for that!


Filed under Academics, Alumni Perspective, Memories of Penn, Nicole M.

High Jump Wars: A New Hope

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

Field event training (high jump, long jump, shot put, discus, javelin …) isn’t like training to run. Running you can do almost anywhere. Field events, on the other hand, generally require certain, key equipment. And most apartments in Philadelphia just don’t come equipped with that sort of thing. So, after that last high jump competition for Penn during my senior year, I assumed that this part of my life was over.

Enter my former Team Captains, Ruthlyn Greenfield-Webster, Nu’92 and Deirdre Morris-Abrahamsson, C’93, GEd’94, who have been slowly brainwashing me into considering Masters level competition, for athletes 35 and over.

If you’ve seen this, you know I was a walk-on to Penn Varsity Women’s Track & Field, and spent four years competing as a high jump specialist. Even years later, I could easily visualize every moment of my high jump approach. It’s something I did repeatedly, for months in a row, every year from 7th grade through college. Nothing you’ve done that many times in your life ever really leaves you. However, what my mind can do and what my body can do are two different things. How different? After nearly 17 years, I was curious.

Late this past fall, when I ran into Assistant Coach Tony Tenisci (who was coaching here when I was on the team), I mentioned the evil influence of Ruthie and Dee and I asked whether I could access the high jump pit some time to see what I could still do. He surprised me by inviting me to come practice with the current crop of high jumpers.

Tony! Wow, was it trippy to practice together again. So many memories.

I have been physically active via an intriguing array of activities since my student days, but I haven’t done anything remotely close to high jumping since the spring semester of 1995. I did take 3rd place in a limbo contest last year. At least I knew that my back was still flexible. Still, shimmying under a bar is far less taxing than throwing yourself over one.

Outdoor Heptagonal Championships at Navy, Spring 1995. That’s my Mom. Though we’re in shadow, you can still make out the smiling, stick figure high jumper she drew with a Sharpie on her event T-shirt, along with an arrow pointing to “PENN.”

When the day came, I called my Mom before practice since I wanted her to hear from me while I was yet uninjured. I popped into the Training Room to get my ankles taped, and then crossed over into The Bubble, our indoor training annex (which looks and smells exactly as you remember it, former teammates).

Once inside The Bubble again, I spent a few minutes just walking around, taking it in. I spent so much time in here, so long ago. My very first high jump practice  at Penn took place in this room; first the coaches laughed, then they proceeded to spend the next four years fixing me. After my trip down memory lane, I threw down my bag and leapt onto the pit. Ahh.

It’s a Sealy Posturepedic morning, yeah!

There were other athletes in the room, and that’s when it hit me. Other athletes. When I’m in here, I’m reminded that I, too, am an athlete. Whatever my body does over time, that status will never change because I earned it. I will always be proud of that.

I warmed up and stretched, and then saw Tony walk in. When he saw me, both of us broke out into enormous smiles. This was going to be fun. After a big hug, he introduced me to several members of the team. I could tell he was really proud. “This is Nicole Maloy, school record holder in the High Jump,” he said to each one. “I bet you were BORN in 1995! Ha ha ha!” he said to one of the hurdlers.

She was defiant. “No I wasn’t!”

“OK, when were you born?”

She hung her head. “1992.” Oy.

After more warming up, Tony had me find my mark, a.k.a. identify my starting spot. Then he asked me to try my approach – no jump, just the run and the takeoff. It’s a strange mix of speed and direction changes, different for every jumper. I revved up, ran my “J,” did my takeoff, then looked at Coach. He was smiling. He looked at the other jumpers and said, “See? It’s always in your body.” Well, now. That was encouraging. Then he looked back at me and cocked his head.  “You used to do this,” he said, as he put his arms out in front of him.

I laughed. “You remember.”

Doing my ritual pre-High Jump dance during warmups.

I had decided to actively tone down the pre-jump ritual for my return since I was sure it was not entirely necessary (frankly, though, the urge to let my arms go up was almost overwhelming). Next up: five-step drills, where we would actually jump, but without the speed of a full approach. Rather than put up the bar, Tony tied a rubber cord between the standards. I realized how brilliant this was later, as it kept us from having to reset the bar every 30 seconds like we had to do way back in my day. These kids today, they don’t know how good they have it!

After a few five-step approaches, it was time to jump. I felt myself getting nervous, then stuffing it away and focusing, the way you do. It was time. I felt like I should have brought theme music for this moment.

The best possible meaning for “I’m heading for the bar.” Starting a five-step approach drill for my first high jump attempt in close to 17 years.

Over for a split second at about 5’2” or 5’3”. This was unexpected. Then, of course, I came right down on it. Still, not bad for an old lady on her first day back.


I had no idea what to expect on this day, but what meant the most to me was that Tony took it seriously. He was very thoughtful and deliberate about what I should do, how much I should do, and when I should stop, given how long I’d been away. It felt great that he treated me not like a visitor, but like an athlete who had earned his respect. Thanks for that, Coach.

Q&A With Tony, The Day After

What was it like to work with a former team member again after so many years?

When I looked up and saw Nicole on her mark and approaching the high jump bar…it was like no time had passed. She looked the same and ran the same way she did as a 19 year old student athlete! It was like the past had come back to me.

What did the experience mean to you as a Coach?

That when you have an athlete like Nicole, even after 17 years away, she still loves to high jump and treasures her experience as a student-athlete enough to recreate it again at the Master’s Level.

Anything to add?

Only that Nicole will be really sore this morning and that she will have touched muscles in her body that have been dormant for 17 years. That will be interesting for her!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Athletics, Memories of Penn, Nicole M.

Q&A with a Track & Field Master-Part II: Dee

Author: Nicole Maloy, W’95

(For my previous Q&A with World Masters Track & Field competitor, Ruth Greenfield, Nu’92, check out Part I). 

Today, Deirdre Morris-Abrahamsson, C’93, GEd’94, is a Communications Specialist at Widener University in Pennsylvania, and serves as a freelance sports/events consultant. But I remember her as the athlete with whom I shared the high jump pit for two years as my teammate on Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field. When I was doing my plyometric training, sprints, short-approach jumping drills, and literal attempts at greater heights, there she was. The difference was, when I was done training or competing for the day, she was on her way to work on another event.

Deirdre was a pentathlete indoors, and a heptathlete outdoors. The former includes the 60m Hurdles, High Jump, Shot Put, Long Jump and 800m; the latter replaces the 60m Hurdles with 100m Hurdles, then adds the Javelin and the 200m Dash. So, yeah, I’m feeling a bit inadequate right now. She is trying to convince me to join her in competing again in the Master’s division (35+). Lord help me, I might be swayed. Stay tuned…

Here we are at an indoor meet back in the day.

Q&A with Dee

4 years Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field, Senior Co-Captain

Pentathlon, Heptathlon

Why did you join the track team at Penn?

I was successful in track at St. Francis Prep High School in Queens, NY and I was recruited by many colleges. I intended to continue competing, and I chose Penn over Dartmouth and Cornell, where I was also accepted.

High jumping at the Colonial Relays during her high school days. Even then, she wore the red and blue!

Why did you stay on the team for as long as you did?
Good question! I loved the sport and my teammates, and I couldn’t imagine not being a part of the team. I never thought about quitting, I always wanted to train harder, achieve more and see what I was capable of doing.

(Note: Deirdre was also President of the Penn Irish Club, and was involved in the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project.)

What was your proudest accomplishment in Track & Field at Penn?
At the end of my junior year, I blew my knee out in a freak long jump accident at the Ivy League Championships at Yale.

(Side note: I was there, and the sound of her scream is still echoing in my head. I just want the readers to understand the severity of the injury and the pain she was in so you can have some context for her recovery and subsequent return to competition).

I had knee surgery in May and wore a cast for two months. I was running again by October, hurdling by December, and ready to compete again by January.

I had my ups and downs that indoor and outdoor season. At the Indoor Championships at the Naval Academy, I hit a hurdle in the first event of the Pentathlon and finished last in the event- in a fog. However, I ended my Penn Track career at the Outdoor Championships at Princeton with a fifth place finish in the Heptathlon and a personal record in the 800m. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. I had been through so much, and I had accomplished a lot. And, I didn’t have to run an 800m race ever again!

Your favorite Penn Track & Field memory?
The Penn Relays, of course! I competed in them during my high school years, and then as a Penn Track member it was so awesome to have that event take place on our home track. It was great fun to be a part of the meet, to watch amazing competition and feel the energy of the crowd. I remember walking on the track one day, and there were some older guys walking ahead of me, talking about the “ghosts” on the track and their days running at the Penn Relays. It is true. Thousands upon thousands of people have raced and competed at Franklin Field, each with their own stories of success, defeat, and pride at having competed at the famous Penn Relays.

And the people – my teammates and the alumni of both the men’s and women’s teams. I have made such wonderful friends, and we will always have the bond of being part of such a storied athletic program. My coaches Betty Costanza and Tony Tenisci are life-long friends and mentors, and Charlie Powell, the head men’s coach who just retired, is someone that I admire immensely.

Deirdre competing for Penn as a junior.

What were your main activities and interests between your graduation from Penn and competing in the Masters division (including but not limited to sports)?
I was always surprised to hear from fellow athletes who stopped running once their competition days were over. I never stopped. I couldn’t imagine that. It was so ingrained in me and had been such a big part of my life for so long, that when I would be sitting at work and 3 p.m. would roll around, I always felt like it was time to head out to Track practice.

The year after college, I took up rowing. I learned to scull at the Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club. A recurring feeling that would come over me while doing a 10 mile row and watching runners race up and down Kelly Drive was: I’d rather be running! Plus, tipping my single scull and falling into the murky Schuylkill River didn’t help matters.

Rowing lasted for about a year, and then I started playing Ultimate Frisbee. I could not throw at all, but I could RUN. I joined a summer league team through the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance, and I had a blast. It was tough, but so much fun. I played Ultimate for ten years, and in my career played at the Club level with Women’s and Mixed teams. I played in 3 US Championships, three World Championships (in Vancouver, Hawaii, and Germany), 3 Swedish Championships and numerous tournaments throughout the US, Canada and Europe. It is through Ultimate that I met my husband – an Ultimate playing Swede that I met at a beach tournament in Italy, south of Lecce. We met in 2001, lived in Salt Lake City until the end of 2002, and then in Sweden from 2002 – 2009.

Throughout this time I continued to run, and I competed in races from 5K to the half marathon. I have also continued weight lifting and I have really fallen in love with yoga. And Swing Dancing, did I mention Swing Dancing? I did this for several years in NYC and when I lived in Barcelona, and it is something that I really want to get better at.

Ultimate Deirdre

What prompted you to start competing in the Masters division? What did it involve?
I have always thought about competing again in track but never really knew how or where. (I actually didn’t think I would ever STOP competing in track, so it was inevitable to start up again.) Playing Ultimate was a big time commitment, not to mention work and then kids. But after moving back to the USA two years ago from Sweden, I got reconnected with many Penn teammates. Ruth Greenfield, Nu’92, was very active with Masters Track, and I was inspired by her participation and great success. She kept encouraging me, and others, to take it up again, and finally, I did.

What are your strongest memories of your first competition as a Master?
I have only competed in a handful of track meets so far. My first meet was the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in June at Widener University. As a former heptathlete, I can do many events. The easiest to just step back into though, besides the running events, is the shot put. I showed up and there were about fifteen men and one woman there ranging from ages 25 – 70 competing, with their shot put shoes, measuring tapes, and all the typical paraphernalia. There was a nice camaraderie and lots of encouragement among the participants. I was very nervous, but I did fine – and actually surprised myself that my form and strength is still there (actually, I feel stronger physically after having had children).

It was also a great surprise to run into two former Penn Men’s Track athletes who are also very active and successful on the Masters Track circuit: Jason Costner, W’92, and Mohamed Ali, EAS’92. It was nice to hear them cheer me on when I very bravely ran the 400m.

And to top it off, after my first meet, I was ranked #1 in the US in my age group in the shot. That was a thrill. I know that several of my teammates would rocket to the top of the rankings if they started competing again.

At her first Masters Outdoor Track meet in May with fellow Penn Track & Field alumni, Jason Costner and Mohamed Ali.

In which events do you currently compete or plan to compete?
I really want to high jump and long jump again, but, even though I still run, it will take a lot to prepare my body for that kind of impact and to get used to doing it again. The muscle memory is still there though. I have tried high jumping, and it feels natural to do it. I just need to take it slow! I also want to run all of the events up to the mile and see how I do in each. And I will continue shot putting as I really want to see how much I can improve.

Your proudest accomplishment in Track & Field at the Masters level?
In December, I competed in my first meet of the indoor season. My goal was to throw over 30 feet in the shot put – and I did! I also ran the 800m. Like many heptathletes, I dreaded running the 800m as the last of seven events. Although I am slower now, I feel that I am mentally stronger, and I really pushed myself and kept focused. I look forward to running it again, and I aim to whittle my time down over the season.

How does being a mom affect your life as a competitive athlete? How have your children responded?
The other day, my four-year old daughter said to me, “You are the best mom in the world, and the best shot putter in the world.” Alert the presses! My kids know that I love track and field, and my seven-year old son has been to many track meets and has watched a lot of them on TV – especially when we were living in Sweden and they were on TV all the time. He watched Usain Bolt run at the Penn Relays two years ago. This past summer, he participated in his first track meet, and he racked up the medals and had a great time. He “practices” throwing hammer, javelin, and shot put in the yard. I am excited for both my kids to come watch me compete at a meet this winter, and I think that if I went head to head in the 800 with Gavin, he would beat me. In fact, his favorite event to run is the 800m – so he has the advantage.

Sports are such a big part of our family, and it is natural for all of us to be active. We go watch Pappa play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, mom run a 5K, Gavin play soccer, and Violet swims. We will see if they become Track & Field athletes, but if they don’t, it won’t be for lack of exposure.

Deirdre with her husband and two children.

What advice do you have for other women/former college athletes who might be interested in competing again?
Remember in high school (or middle school) when you first started doing track and this whole new world opened up to you? You would go and hang out with your friends at track meets, compete in the 55m, the 200m, the triple jump, the shot put (for a laugh) and then run a relay or two? Master’s Track has that vibe. At the meets I have been to, people run multiple events and throw in a field event for good measure. I swear, I am pretty sure this one guy did run ALL of the events at my last meet.

It is a lot of fun, and you would surprise yourself at what you can still do. I know for me, I still have a competitive streak and I want to do my best and keep getting better. But in Masters Track, I am only competing against myself and my own times. The other competitors are very friendly and supportive, and it seems like a close-knit community. Find a Masters Track club in your area, or just show up at meet. If you are not sure what to do, just jump into the 55m dash for a start. Don’t forget to stretch!

And since there are fewer competitors, the meets don’t take all day as they do in high school and college. You can get a few races in on a Sunday morning and then be home in time for lunch.

Anything to add about your experience with Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field?
I am very proud to have been a member of the Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Team. We worked hard, all year long, and it was a huge commitment. After I graduated, I wanted to stay involved with sports, and I have worked primarily in the sports and event industries. I am a huge sports fan, but Track will always be my favorite.

Anything to add about your experience competing in Track & Field in the Masters division?
It will help with motivation to find some people to train with. I recently started working at Widener University and have become friendly with the track coaches. I have been able to attend some of their practices and get a few training and throwing tips. It is a great feeling to head down to the track and be around the athletes.

Two gold medals from her first master’s track meet. Nice job, Dee!

Again,  to read an earlier post “Q&A with World Masters Track & Field” competitor, Ruth Greenfield, Nu’92, check out Part I).

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Athletics, Class of 1993, Nicole M.

Q&A with a Track & Field Master-Part I: Ruthie

Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95

(To read Part II of the interview series with Track & Field Masters competitor,  Deirdre Morris-Abrahamsson, C’93, GEd’94, go here).

When I joined Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field in the fall of my Freshman year, Co-Captain Ruth Greenfield was a positive voice in my ear, and a stellar example of what any collegiate scholar-athlete would want to be both on and off the field. Well, ladies and gentlemen, she’s still got it.

Triple Jumper Ruthlyn Greenfield-Webster, Nu’92 wins 2nd place in her division at the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships.

Ruth Greenfield-Webster, a married mother of two in Yonkers, NY, now works as a Registered Nurse and a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. And, in her spare time, she competes at the national and world levels in the Masters division of Track & Field.

Wait, what?

Track & Field “Masters” are athletes aged 35 and over (30-34 gets you “submaster” status), and who, to put it simply, just aren’t done yet. I became more and more intrigued by this phenomenon and Ruth’s involvement in it first because, let’s face it, it’s pretty awesome. But second, because I qualify. Gulp. Might I find myself high jumping again one day?

Two of my own former Track & Field Captains say yes but, as they both compete now, they are biased and not to be trusted. Still, what is it like? This, Part I of II, is Q&A with Ruth, who still holds the #2 spot in Penn’s record books for both the indoor and outdoor Triple Jump. Part II will feature Deirdre Morris-Abrahamsson, C’93, GEd’94, who remains among Penn’s top 10 in both the Pentathlon and the Heptathlon, which consist of five and seven events, respectively. For anyone who’s not clear on that, we’re talking about 5 or 7 events in one track meet.

Ruth during her Penn days, right around when she broke the Indoor & Outdoor Triple Jump Records. Number 1, indeed!

Q&A with Ruthie
4 years Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field, Senior Co-Captain
Triple Jump, Long Jump, 400m Dash, 4x400m Relay

Why did you join the track team at Penn?

I was recruited out of Mount Vernon High School (New York) by Coach Betty Costanza. I had also been competing at the Penn Relays as a high school athlete so I had grown to love the campus and the track. After visiting Penn my senior year of high school and spending some time with the coaches and the track team, I decided that Penn was the best fit for me, both athletically and academically, as the U. Penn School of Nursing was the #1 nursing school in the country at the time.

Stylin! Competing in the 800m run for Mount Vernon High School.

Why did you stay on the team for as long as you did?

Participating in sports (particularly track and field) has always been a part of who I am. The Penn Women’s Track Team was essentially a second major for me. I arrived at U. Penn with two goals in mind… to succeed at obtaining a degree in nursing and to succeed as an athlete in the sport of track and field. Even when it got tough and it became difficult to juggle both, it never crossed my mind to quit. That was a self-imposed “non-option.” I loved it too much! (Note: Ruth was also involved in the Penn Gospel Choir and Friars Senior Society.)

Your proudest accomplishment in Track & Field at Penn?

There were multiple proud moments: breaking the indoor and outdoor school records in the Triple Jump, being a 4-time Heptagonal (Ivy League) Champion in the Triple Jump, being the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania Althea Gibson Award for athletic excellence which I received at graduation in 1992, and being invited to the 1992 Olympic Trials in the Triple Jump!

What’s your favorite Penn Track & Field memory (if different from the above)?

All of the above! But if I had to pick one…it would be breaking the school records!

Reunited and it feels so good! Ruth and her two daughters with current and former members of the Penn Women’s Track & Field coaching staff at the 2010 Penn Relays.

What prompted you to start competing in the Masters division? What did it involve?

While I was playing volleyball in the league in NYC, one of my friends discovered that, in addition to our love for volleyball, we also shared a history as track and field athletes. He then told me about “Masters Track and Field.” I had never heard of that division. I thought my track and field life was finished in 1992 when I turned down the invitation to the Olympic Trials and that unless you were an elite athlete, track and field was over after college.

He asked me to go to a track meet with him (he was in his early 40s and had competed in it 10 years prior). I hesitated at first because I didn’t know if I had the time to dedicate to it (I knew I couldn’t just do it as a hobby…I would want to REALLY train). I was also working full time, had my 2 young children, and was running my business. But like a true competitor, I see everything as a challenge. I did not want to back down from what I saw as a “challenge,” so I went out and bought some cheap spikes the day before the meet, did a few bounds in my front yard, and went to the local track meet the next day.

I competed and later discovered that I had jumped well enough to beat that year’s National Champion’s jump by 2 feet. I was really shocked that I was still able to jump so well, so it was a no-brainer after that as to what my decision would be. My friend became my coach (he was also a Triple Jump specialist in his youth) and I started to train with the intent of becoming a serious competitor.

What are your strongest memories of your first competition as a Master?

After that initial meet, my first real meet (post dedicated training) was at the Armory (New Balance) Track & Field Center in NYC! I will never forget walking on to the track, standing on the runway, twirling around and looking up at the rafters and saying to myself, “I’m home!” with a huge grin on my face.

Good gracious, look at that height. Outdoor Nationals, 2010. For context, this is nearly 20 years after her graduation from Penn.

In which events do you currently compete or plan to compete?

I started out with the Triple Jump and Long Jump, then figured I might as well do the 60m Dash & 100m Dash since I’m sprinting in training anyway. I was never trained as a short-sprinter at Penn, so that took a lot of guts and I was infinitely nervous before each meet. But I had to come out of my comfort zone. After my left knee surgery in 2008, I dropped the Long Jump (that leg was my take off leg for the LJ, but not for the TJ). After a 2 year recovery period, I wanted to go back to having 3 events, so I decided to add the 200m Dash to my 100m Dash and TJ events. Like I said before, I love a challenge, and I especially love to challenge myself! So currently, I compete in the 60m Dash, 100m Dash, 200m Dash, and TJ.

What was your proudest accomplishment in Track & Field at the Masters level?

Again, there are a few! My near-American Record in the TJ in the W35-39 age group (I missed it by a mere 1 inch at the age of 39). Individually, I’m most proud of my National Champion titles and #1 U.S. rankings, as well as my World Championship Silver and Bronze medal titles and Top 10 World rankings in the TJ. As part of a team, I’m most proud of my World Champion title as a member of the U.S. 4x100m Relay team.

How does being a mom affect your life as a competitive athlete? How have your children responded?

It’s been interesting juggling it all. When I started competing again, my children were ages 4 and 8. I took them to the track to train with me because I had to. At first, they pouted and resisted, but after a couple years of accompanying me to the track to train and to my track meets, they began asking to train with me and wanted to compete as well, so that’s what we did. Both of my daughters have won racing and jumping events in their youth divisions and they are very excited and anxious to continue pursuing training and competing in track and field. Of course, I’m on cloud 9 because having my children compete in the sport that I have such a passion for has always been a dream of mine (even before I even had children). The fact that I can compete AT THE SAME TIME they’re competing is a tremendous bonus for me and I feel truly blessed!

Deirdre and Ruth in 2010.

What advice do you have for other women/former college athletes who might be interested in competing again?

If the thought even crosses your mind to start competing again, please reach out to those of us who are currently competing. It can be very daunting to try to figure out how much time it will take to train and compete and how to incorporate training and competition into what is usually an already busy adult life that’s filled with work, family, and other obligations. We understand! We’re living it! And we can tell you, it’s not impossible! And… it sure is a heck of a lot of fun! Anyone that’s interested in competing in Masters Track and Field can visit websites such as:,,,, and for more information.

Anything to add about your experience with Penn Women’s Varsity Track & Field?

An AWESOME group of coaches and an AWESOME team of AWESOME women who became my family away from home! That experience has helped me to become the strong woman I am today. There’s nothing you can tell me that I can’t do!

Anything to add about your experience competing in Track & Field in the Masters division?

The health benefits go without saying. But there’s just something about this sport. Even at this level, the camaraderie and feeling that regardless of where you are (nationally and internationally) we are one big family, is ever-present. You develop friendships that extend beyond the track and field. And the experience of constantly being around dedicated, motivated, and kick— people is PRICELESS!

See Part II, Q&A with Penn Track & Field alumna Deirdre Morris-Abrahamsson, C’93, GEd’94 on January 13!


Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Profile, Athletics, Nicole M.