Category Archives: Nicole S.

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 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 Fine ’09 Gets Creative for Their 5th Reunion

Author: Nicole Svonavec GEd ‘09


This May, members of the Class of 2009 will reunite to celebrate their 5th Reunion.  They’ve chosen the theme BYO9 in honor of the Philly BYO restaurant culture.   The planning committee is encouraging fellow 09ers to BYO (bring your own) memories, stories, and updates, but of course, we’ll already have the wine.  Check out their awesome to-do list below to see how they’re gearing up to return to campus and P-A-R-T-Y!


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Alumni Weekend, Memories of Penn, Nicole S., Philadelphia

Penn Commemorates MLK Day

Nicole Svonavec , GEd ‘09

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Penn is hosting a series of special events.  Faculty, staff, students, and community members will gather around Philadelphia to share in a day of service to celebrate and continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is greeted at the University Museum on "Law Day USA", May 1, 1965. (Photo by Bernato, courtesy the University Archives)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is greeted at the University Museum on “Law Day USA”, May 1, 1965. (Photo by Bernato, courtesy the University Archives)


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yPenn Speaker Series

Author: Ada Yeung, C’13

As part of the yPenn Speaker Series, Trustee David (W’87, WG’88) and Beth (W’88, WG’92) Ertel graciously hosted an intimate gathering of young Penn alumni at their beautiful home overlooking Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. Giving was definitely the theme of the night as the Ertels initiated an engaging dialogue centered around on how young Penn alumni can give back and positively impact the Penn community. A dinner reception quickly followed where we had a chance to connect in smaller groups and meet other young alumni in Miami. Great food, great company, and great conversation definitely made this night a successful one.

ertel3 ertel2



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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Marvin R., Nicole S.

Sweets ‘N Study

Author:  Nicole Svonavec, GEd ‘09

The Penn Traditions Alumni Engagement Committee hosted two study breaks in Sweeten during the midterms month of October.  We provided snacks, music, quiet study space, and LOTS of coffee.  Over 100 students joined us for Sunday evening study time (let’s be real, the snacks below were the REAL treat :).


We’re so excited to introduce more current students to Sweeten, our alumni home on campus, long before they officially graduate!


We’ll host this event again during finals time, so look for our Facebook posts and chalk art on The Walk for dates and times.


More about Penn Traditions
The Penn Traditions Alumni Engagement Committee is one of three student leadership committees advised by Penn Alumni Relations.  We sponsor student funding, alumni networking, and great traditions events like Final Toast and Highball to Hey Day.  Students who would like more information about Penn Traditions, or want to get involved with Alumni Relations, can contact Nicole Svonavec at

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Welcome Class of 2017

Penn Traditions is SO excited to welcome a new class of freshmen into the Penn family! We started last night with our annual Highball to Hey Day presentation, where freshmen learned about Penn’s most exciting traditions.  Special thanks to the Penn Band, Glee Club, cheerleaders, and the Quaker  mascot for helping us get fired up.

highball to hey day

Check out how many first year students already signed their class banner!  We can’t wait to bring it back out for their fifth, tenth, fiftieth reunions.

class of 2017 banner

We’re off to another fun New Student Orientation event, but stay tuned, we think this class will accomplish some BIG things during their time at Penn and beyond.


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Penn Alumni Welcomes Colleagues for Ivy Plus

Author: Nicole Svonavec, GEd’09

Penn Alumni Relations is so excited to host our AR colleagues from schools across the country at the annual Ivy Plus Conference, which starts today!  We’re ready to learn, share, connect, and party!  Sweeten looks like a whole different building today – we’re showcasing our Penn pride and, for one week only, celebrating our colleagues’ school traditions.  Check it out!

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue!

And our colleagues too!

And our colleagues too!

Even Freddie Mercury is dressed-to-kill in his Penn red, reminding us that we’re still the champions (of Philadelphia)!

Even Freddie Mercury is dressed-to-kill in his Penn red, reminding us that we’re still the champions (of Philadelphia)!


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Events, Nicole S.

Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

Authors:  Nicole Svonavec, GEd’09 and Marvin Rocha, C ’06

After a great Final Toast event on Wednesday, April 24, the Class of 2013, led by Class President Jon Youshaei, has officially passed the senior torch to the Class of 2014.  Pending the passing of final exams (fingers crossed!), we ecstatically welcome 2013 as our newest yPenn cohort!  Here’s a small taste of the fun, but click on the photos to link to all Final Toast pics:

Final Toast Tree Planting 2013

final toast 2013

We had a BLAST at the event, and we’re pumped that it’s only the first of many Senior Week festivities!   More information about Senior Week (including tickets to all ticketed events) will be available outside Sweeten Alumni House Monday-Wednesday (May 6-8) from 11AM – 3PM.

In the meantime, here’s the information about a few other Senior Week events we’re hosting:

yPenn Senior Leadership Reception
Monday, May 6
Hall of Flags
5:00 – 6:30 PM

Senior Resource Fair
Monday, May 6
Hall of Flags
6:30 – 8:00 PM

Association of Alumnae Wine & Cheese Reception
Tuesday, May 7
College Green
7:30 – 8:30 PM

We’ll close out Senior Week with an exclusive event on Friday, May 10.  What better way to welcome the Class of 2013 into the alumni realm than by throwing them a party!  We’re so excited to invite 2013 to their first official alumni event – the yPenn Highball!

yPenn Highball
Friday, May 10
Hall of Flags
9:00 PM – 12:00 AM

And to think we knew them when:


Some of our nearest and dearest members of the Class of 2013 at the end of their freshman year – my how far they’ve come!

We look forward to celebrating Senior Week and welcoming the Class of 2013 into our alumni family!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Commencement, Marvin R., Nicole S., y-Penn, yPenn

Drink a Highball at Nightfall…

Author: Marvin Rocha C’06 and Nicole Svonavec GEd’09

The yPenn Highball event has become a tradition – the Penn party of the year for young alumni 0-10 years since graduation.  There’s no better way to celebrate Penn than this huge party, complete with drinks, dancing, and PLENTY of red and blue spirit.  Over the past three years, we’ve hosted this party in Philadelphia and New York, and can’t wait to bring Highball to other cities in the future.

To celebrate Penn’s hometown (and the city with the second highest alumni base), our next two Highballs will be in Philadelphia! On Saturday, April 6 from 9 PM to 1 AM, we will host our 2nd Annual Philly (Center City) Highball at Stotesbury Mansion near Rittenhouse Square.

Check out our Facebook page and register here today.

To help tempt you to attend, here are two of our favorite photos from last year’s event:

iphone Oct 2012 016

Christian with complimentary glow sticks.

iphone Oct 2012 017

An enthusiastic and vibrant crowd of young Penn alumni dancing the night away.

During Alumni Weekend, we’ll host a second Highball on Friday, May 10 from 9 PM to midnight to bring the Classes of 2002-2012 together and welcome our newest alumni, the Class of 2013.  Check your emails over the next couple of weeks for more information on registering to come back to campus.  We’ll be ready for you (with glow sticks)!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Marvin R., Nicole S., y-Penn

Six Penn Roommates Live it Up in New York

Authors: Nicole Svonavec, GEd’09 and Marvin Rocha, C’06

If you were to walk into a SoHo apartment in New York City, you could very well find yourself re-writing the opening lines of MTV’s Real World to:

This is the true story…of six Penn alumni from the Class of 2012, who, picked to live in a house, launch careers in New York, and find out what happens when people stop being undergrads and start getting real…

That’s precisely what happened when Jordan Brown, Stephanie Chung, Triston Francis, Kesi Irvin, Juan Felipe Rendon, and Ned Shell —all members of the Class of 2012—moved into the NYC apartment they affectionately call the PennthouseAs with many apartments in New York, the group had to be aggressive in their search. “It was the Friday of Spring Fling last year when we decided to put down the deposit; a couple of us bussed up to NYC to check it out—a huge sacrifice of fling time! Those who didn’t go Skype’d in wearing tank tops from one of the high-rises” said Ned Shell, who graduated from Penn with a degree in International Relations.

One thing that came easy for the group was decorating. They opted for an enlarged picture of the six residents from graduation – mounted on a wall across from a giant Penn banner. Both of these Penn mementos greet the dozens of Penn alumni who have crashed with the roommates for weekends at a time. The Real World never felt quite as welcoming as this Penn home in the big city.

The roommates at graduate in 2012.

The roommates at graduation in 2012.

The roommates today in New York City.

The roommates today in New York City.


Filed under Marvin R., Nicole S., yPenn