Category Archives: Nicole O.

Another School Year? How about attending First September?

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

When you step on Penn’s campus, you can observe all the construction and the quiet before the students start to arrive.  Another school year is around the corner.

With each new academic year, students have new opportunities to meet people. Penn Alumni also have this opportunity with First September.  In 2011, I wrote the following article for this blog  about how much I enjoy this annual event.

This event happens in cities all over the world. It’s our way of welcoming the newest class of alumni, this year the class of 2013. It’s great to meet newly minted alumni, those returning to Philadelphia, and those who are just re-engaging with Penn.

If you are in Philadelphia, join us for the First September event to be hosted at Nodding Head, a Center City Brewery, on Thursday, September 19 from 6 to 8 PM. The event is free to current Penn Alumni members, and $15 for non-members. Click here to register now.



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Penn Alumni in My Travels

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

Having been inspired by Monday’s post on travel- here are my last five destinations where I met Penn alumni.

5. Wilmington, Delaware

Probably one of the closest destinations and I went for a work presentation.  As I was setting my up my presentation, my contact and I discovered that we were both Penn undergraduates.  Small world.

4. New York City, New York

My college roommate and I went to the Brooklyn Art Museum. We have toured many art museums together and she indulges my crazy requests to go to museums all over NYC.  I have a quest to go to all the art museums in the country…

3. Phoenix, Arizona

I met my alumni mentor, the chair of the Global Alumni Network Board, to discuss volunteer leadership and the direction of the Penn Club of Philadelphia.  All while enjoying tea outside in November.

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia

While I was visiting a friend from Arizona, I saw a Penn alumna who I hadn’t seen in years.  I reached out to the Penn alumna when my friend moved there last year because I thought they might have something in common.  Fast forward today and they are good friends!

1. Bangor, Maine

One of my Penn roommates got married and I trekked up to central Maine to celebrate her special day.  Several Penn alumni made the trip and we were all seated together at the reception.  To break the ice, we all shared stories about our days at Penn.

Here’s to finding Penn alumni everywhere!


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Wanted: Newletter Editor

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

Have you ever wanted to reach over 2,500 alumni with the click of a button? I’ve had the chance to work on the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia newsletter and want to pass on this unique opportunity. It’s a blast to craft the title, first few sentences, and the included events.  I’m looking for a volunteer to help with sending the newsletter – the time commitment is just a few hours a month. Email to volunteer.

One of the perks of writing the newsletter is the chance to highlight upcoming events. I thought I’d share this week’s two great events – a Highball Happy Hour tonight (Wednesday, 2/22) and a Family Night at the Palestra this Friday, 2/24. The first is a highly successful event that draws a real crowd of alumni to mix and mingle with happy hour specials at a cool venue. The second is with the Association of Alumnae and a new, family-oriented event that is sure to be a lot of fun! We hope to have a great group of Penn families attend and start a new tradition. See you at an upcoming event!

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Connecting Penn Alumni to Each Other

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

January brings a new Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia Board and another year of volunteer leaders planning events connecting local alumni to Penn, Philadelphia, and each other.  As the President of the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia, I was determined to start the year energized and worked with one of the board members to plan a kick off retreat.  We did a short survey to learn what was most important to our mission and for the future of the club.  While the responses covered a breadth of interests (a wonderful quality for a board), one thing was common. Everyone wanted the club to help them meet other Penn Alumni.  The motivations varied from looking for professional clients, to making new friends, to networking and career exploration, but the end goal was the same, to meet new people.

Penn people love meeting each other and the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia provides that opportunity. I love how alumni events and volunteering have introduced me to so many of “classmates” whether we were at Penn together or not! Whether you are interested in community service projects, speed networking, the Phillies, or grabbing drinks at a cool venue in the city, we have something for you. Like our next event this Thursday, Ben Franklin’s Birthday at the old Philadelphia establishment, McGillins. Check it out.  I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you are not in Philadelphia, there is a whole Global Alumni Network out there – see where your club is!

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Oops Paint

Nicole Oddo: C’05

Yes, “oops paint. ” What is it and how do I know so much about it?

First, it’s a Home Depot paint that’s been mixed for a customer, but has been returned or wasn’t wanted after all. They sell at a fraction of the cost ($5-7 a gallon versus like $20+ a gallon).

Secondly, (and, more importantly), why do I know this?  I frequent Home Depot.  For better or for worse, I’m a homeowner.  While the house gives me plenty of joy, my move-in ready house requires an endless punch list of smallish projects.  Hence, a LOT of trips to Home Depot (I’ve actually come to like the place).  I have learned how to use a drill (let’s not discuss just how long it took to get my curtains up).  I have become skilled in selecting lighting and trying to explain myself to an electrician (I now have knowledge of three way switches).  And I have really taken on painting.

A few weekends ago, I decided December would be my chance to work on the basement (I had spent the day before Homecoming painting the deck).  I had been hunting for good colors on the “Oops “paint rack (go here for far more detailed instructions about painting than I would write), and FINALLY, I was successful.  I found a cheery yellow for the basement room, a plain white for the stairwell, a tan for the hallway, and a grey for the floor. Nothing changes a room more than paint. It was a good basement but it could be so much more appealing if I fixed it up (stay tuned for how I am going to attempt flooring in January).

Painting is physically a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding.  So many of the challenges I take on at work are abstract and take a long time to see results (like hiring law students to be lawyers in the distant future).  With painting, I have the chance to see a room or space transformed.  While I still have work to go, my basement is going to be the new focal point of my house tour.  Now, if I can just get to finally having a housewarming party…

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Homecoming Gala

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

A few weekends ago, alumni had a chance to gather for Homecoming Weekend – an event that I block out in my calendar at the beginning of every year.

I usually start the weekend by attending the Penn Alumni Award of Merit Gala. Check out the video of the opening of the Gala’s award ceremony below.

This event is an amazing celebration of alumni achievement and is always inspiring.  It is a great chance to see friends, mentors, and meet new people.  Having had my class (2005) win the David N. Tyre Award for Excellence in Communication last year for our 5th Reunion, it was very impressive to see that the class of 2006 was able to shatter all previous records (including ours).  This healthy competition helps motivate us for our 10th reunion.

I particularly love the Club Award of Merit and the opportunity to meet other club leaders around the country.  This year, the Penn Alumni Club of Los Angeles was recognized for their great achievements.  Whenever I can make it out to LA, I am definitely planning my trip to include one of their many exciting events.

Possibly the most inspiring part of the evening is the individual awards for Young Alumni and Lifetime Achievement.  I have the pleasure of knowing a few of the winners and I can attest to their outstanding contributions.

The Gala energizes me every year to continue my work for Penn. After a rousing rendition of the Red & Blue, you have a chance to mingle over food and drinks while catching up with old friends and making new ones.

While this may not be the first event alumni think of for the festive Homecoming weekend, it is and will continue to be one of my favorite events.

To see photos of the event, go here.

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Morris Arboretum

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

For all my love of Penn places, I had never been to the Morris Arboretum.  You might say that is because it is not on campus.  Or the fact that it is on the edge of Philadelphia city limits. Either way – living with a car in the city for the last few years and even in the Northwest section of the city – I had no excuse.

I waited until a beautiful fall weekend (it feels like I might have caught the last fall weekend before the snow).  Every day, I kept an eye on the trees in my neighborhood in anticipation of my excursion.

After arriving on the grounds (and finding out that I got in for free with a Penn Alumni card) I drove up the winding road to the parking lot.  Already, the scenery was beautiful.

First, we checked out the visitors center and picked up the map to discover just how expansive the place was. Immediately I wanted to check out the exhibit, Out on a Limb, that I had read about in The Gazette  (read the article here). This exhibit gave a truly unqiue perspective and both children and adults had a chance to be up in the trees. While I am not always one for heights, the very secure exhibit gave such a unique vantage point over the park. From there, I knew we had a lot to explore.

The place was expansive and had a multitude of gardens.  I enjoyed the rose garden and a groundhog sighting.  You know you live in the city when you get excited to see groundhogs!

My favorite spot was the Pennock Flower Walk—a  beautiful flower garden set behind gates that was originally part of the entry way to the Morris mansion.  The brightly colored flowers and the walkway made the garden a little oasis in the midst of a very large park.

I highly recommend this Penn treasure and only wish I had discovered it earlier.  I’ll be returning for the Holiday Garden Railway.

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Time for First September

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

There is a sense of beginning with the start of every school year, even when you are not a student (after a few years of grad school, I am happy to not have to think about textbooks, finding my classrooms, writing papers or a required selection of reading).

It’s a chance to start again and continue working on those goals on your to do list. It is also a chance to meet new people. Of course, one of the best things about September as a Penn alumna is First September.  This event happens in cities all over the world. It’s our way of welcoming the newest class of alumni, this year the class of 2011. I particularly like this event because I have participated and planned First Septembers in Phoenix, Chicago, and Philadelphia. When I returned to Philadelphia in 2008, I volunteered to help for that First September.  I worked the registration table and quickly had the chance to meet so many alumni in the area. In Chicago, we did Quizzo, a bar trivia event that we adored in college (and many of us still play!). I also remember setting up the first event in Arizona, at the Ritz Carlton bar. While we didn’t have many young alumni there, we had a great turnout of people new to the club and new to Phoenix.

So, regardless of whether you are the class of 2011, new to the area, or just want to meet new people at the start of another school year, join us at First September!

If you are in Philadelphia, we’ll be touring Yards Brewery and will have a chance to meet over a pint!

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I Spy… PENN!

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

On what is just a typical day of orientation and training at my office, we gather in the lobby for a roof tour.  Now of course, going up to the roof does not sound like work, but part of my job is exposing our summer associates (interns) to Philadelphia. Considering I work in one of the great skyscrapers of the Philadelphia skyline, it is an amazing introduction.  This will actually be my first trip.  Seeing as after three years my ears finally stopped popping everyday on my commute to the 43rd floor, I’m a bit nervous.  How much space do we really have up there?  Why did I pick such a windy day?  Is it easy to fall off the roof? Will I get everyone safely back?

We ride the freight elevator together to the top. Armed with cameras (including the old school disposable version), we are ready for this tour.  And the view is absolutely spectacular.

As I walk around the roof, I’m greeted by a familiar sight.


Here from the roof, I have a new vantage point of the familiar landmarks – Huntsman Hall, High Rise East (now Harnwell), Franklin Field, Irvine Auditorium, and a pocket of trees (Locust Walk) in the middle of campus.  Several other Penn alums are on the roof as well and we stand there pointing out buildings.  While so many parts of the city have special meaning to me now, Penn is at the heart of all of it.  After all, without Penn, I would have never made it to Philadelphia!

Enjoy a few of my other photos from the roof.

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Still in Love with Penn

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

Like most of you, I love my time at Penn.  Yes, “love,” not “loved.” While I graduated in 2005, Penn is still a part of my every day experience.  I hope to share a bit from an enamored alumna’s perspective from the beginning.

I remember getting involved in the summer of 2005 with the Penn and Wharton Club of Arizona.  I simply wrote an email that said:

July 19, 2005 ~10 AM

“I look forward to meeting alumni in Phoenix and would be interesting in helping out.”

In turn, I received a friendly response from the webmaster.  Here’s his follow up email:

July 19, 2005 ~8:30 PM

“As it turns out, the timing of your e-mail was quite fortuitous — as you are a recent graduate, you probably fall into the category of  young Alumni, and it came up in the meeting that we are in need of a Young Alumni Coordinator… Based on the enthusiasm of your e-mail, we’d love to have you assume this post.”

Fast forward to today, and I find myself going into my second year as the President of the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia.  And I love it.  Sure, like everyone else, my professional life is demanding and there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  However, the rewards for being involved are seemingly endless.

I have been to private art exhibits, had dinners with professors, attended baseball games, met some of the most interesting people at events ranging from galas to cocktail parties, had behind the scenes access to restaurants like Lacroix, and celebrated Ben Franklin’s birthday in style.  I’ve planned First September events in three cities and am truly looking forward to our Philadelphia 2011 party at Yards.

I can’t believe it’s been six years since I graduated and started my lifelong role as an alumna.  It’s easy to get involved – wherever you are. Check out the regional clubs here or feel free to email me (especially if you are in the Philadelphia area).

Don’t wait to begin your alumni experience!

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