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PennPAC (Pro bono Alumni Consulting) accepting applications now through August 18th for Fall 2017 volunteers

A PennPAC leadership role supports a career transition

PACEugenia’s appreciation for the importance of service began at a young age. Her father runs the US chapter of a Colombian based nonprofit, Children of the Andes. She began collecting school supplies and running clothing drives for the nonprofit when she was still in high school. A 2012 Penn Huntsman Program graduate (earning a BS in Econ and BA in International Studies), Eugenia is now in a career transition bolstered by her PennPAC volunteer leadership role.

For the past five years, Eugenia has worked as a research analyst for an asset management firm in the consumer food and beverage sector. The sector is appealing to her, but she would like to shift to a marketing role with an emphasis on branding and consumer insight. To help reach this goal, Eugenia will study marketing research and consumer behavior in a one-year program in Madrid this coming fall.

Volunteering with PennPAC Philadelphia has been another important piece of her transition puzzle. Seeking new experiences, Eugenia found the PennPAC volunteer opportunity attractive and thought, “I have no consulting experience, but it can’t hurt to apply.”

On her project for Concilio, a nonprofit serving children and families in the Latino community, she seized the opportunity to become a team leader. “The team needed someone to step up and I volunteered” and she is very happy that she did. “I was nervous and it was not always easy. It put me out of my comfort zone, but I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I have the skills to be a team leader and how much I like leading a team.

Eugenia truly enjoyed her project teammates. “It is really cool to work with people from so many graduating classes, see our shared values and bond over our shared past experiences from Penn.” She was also impressed by their effectiveness. “Two months seemed short, but we managed to get so much done because everyone does their part. Everyone has been so happy to work with each other. We are a lot more productive than I would have expected given everyone’s busy lives.”

She also felt the strong impact of the team’s work on Concilio. Their client “didn’t realize how many opportunities they had out there, so much low hanging fruit” and as a result, they are “so excited, grateful, receptive and appreciative.”

If she returns to a city with PennPAC, Eugenia plans to volunteer with us again. We wish you the best of luck in Madrid, Eugenia!

Learn more about the PennPAC consulting experience and apply by 8/18 to join us.

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Family Traditions at Penn

By: Lindsey Klinger-O’Donnell

Virginia Webster Hilligoss Patton, CW’67, recently returned to campus for a very special Alumni Weekend. Virginia celebrated her 50th Reunion and spent the weekend reminiscing and catching up with fellow classmates, alumni, and her three siblings. She spoke with Penn Alumni Relations about her college experience, fondest memories, and family connections to Penn.

Virginia is the youngest of four siblings. Her two older brothers, Spencer Webster, W’57, and Richard Webster, W’58, and older sister, Linda Webster Huggler, CW’62, all attended Penn in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. From an early age, Virginia felt a strong impetus to not only attend college but specifically the University of Pennsylvania. With such strong family ties to the University, Penn was really the only choice in her mind. While at Penn, Virginia and her sister were student-athletes, playing on the Women’s Field Hockey team. They were also members of the Tri Delta Sorority. They still value the strong friendships and bonds they made there.

Although Virginia grew up in Suburban Philadelphia with her family, she later moved to California and does not have an opportunity to return to campus often. This made Virginia’s homecoming to Penn even more meaningful. She remarked on how much the campus has changed, with so many new buildings and spaces. However, some buildings remained seemingly untouched, like the iconic architecture of Houston Hall, with its comfortable interior spaces and fireplaces. Virginia commented that Houston Hall had always been a common meeting place for her and her classmates. In that regard, not much has changed.

Virginia went on to share one of her most memorable moments from her time at Penn. In her Senior year, Virginia became the first woman to sit on an athletic board when she took on the role of President of Women’s Athletics. Virginia remembers advocating to an all-male board about the need for better facilities and equipment for Women’s Athletics. However, it’s safe to assume that after Alumni Weekend, one of Virginia’s fondest memories of Penn is probably this photo of her and her three siblings enjoying the Alumni Picnic. What a special moment it must have been to come back and share in this Penn Tradition together.


(Photo credit: Lisa Godfrey Photography)

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By Lee Gordon, C’68
As a college student, how fortunate it is to have a special person mold your personal universe. Someone so dynamic and brilliant that you feel at once transformed into a thinking adult, while you could sense that you were in the presence of genius. That was me, Lee Gordon, fifty years ago, at the University of Pennsylvania.

The Daily Pennsylvanian “Course Guide” cited Russian History 149 as one of the finest introductory courses in the University. Yet it was the guide’s reference to the course professor that truly resonated: “The Great One, as many students refer to him, received unanimous ratings of excellent from his students. His lectures are regarded as consistently interesting, often humorous, and always very well organized. He was also praised for his interest in the individual student, a trait not often found in one who lectures to 500 pupils.”

And so Alexander V. Riasanovsky — “The Great One” — entered my life.

Watching Professor Riasanovsky on the grand stage in College Hall was mesmerizing. His cadence was fast-paced, his baritone voice carried in a thunderous roar when he emphasized a certain point, and his command of Russian history was awe-inspiring. Alex Riasanovsky was Penn personified. His Russian history course was popular with students from all programs: Wharton, pre-med, engineering, and liberal arts. Everyone wanted to hear him lecture. He was the consummate Penn ambassador, speaking to all the Penn Clubs throughout the United States, with alumni eager to hear his talk.

I got to know Alex more intimately when he allowed me the privilege of taking his graduate course in Russian history, and to this very day, I fondly remember our conversations about the Russian intelligentsia. In his graduate seminar, Professor Riasanovsky challenged you to think analytically. He had edited a masterful book “Generalizations in Historical Writing” and believed that since history was approached from numerous philosophical, religious, social, political and economic positions, the historian must be able to frame meaningful generalizations.

Born in Harbin, Manchuria China in 1928, Alex’s childhood innocence ended abruptly at age 10 when he witnessed a Japanese soldier behead a prisoner. His family fled and found safe haven across the Pacific Ocean in Eugene, Oregon.

The Riasanovsky family was living history. Alex’s father Valentin was the preeminent scholar of Mongol law and his mother Antonina won the Atlantic Monthly prize for fiction in 1940 for her novel “The Family”. Both Riasanovsky sons were Rhodes Scholars and both became famous Russian history professors, with Alex at Penn and his brother Nicholas at the University of California at Berkeley.

But Alex was more than just a wonderful history professor. He was also a true Renaissance man: a historian, a freethinker, a fine artist and a prolific poet.

I wish I had learned the Russian language because my bookshelf is filled with his poetry written in Russian. A Wallace Stevens devotee, Alex wrote poem after poem, and, gratefully, some were translated into English.
Philosophically, Professor Riasanovsky was a man of peace, and he loved to poke wicked fun at the imperious political megalomaniacs. In a 1995 poem he lamented eloquently:

This long
This gray
And twisted way
Marked by festoons
Of broken flowers
Leads to a land
Where blood-soaked sand
Is raised
In monuments and towers

Here judgement’s rendered
In a glance

Of lying levity, by clowns

Here means and ends
Are seen

As one
And executioners
Wear plastic crowns.

I will long cherish Alex’s books, especially the one with the inscription: “To my favorite student family”. But even more important, I will always cherish the memories with Alex and the love and friendship we shared together these many decades along with my wife Sandy and our three sons Alex, Eric and Michael.

When my eldest son was born, we proudly named him Alex. I still have the wonderful note Professor Riasanovsky sent: “I’m very happy to hear about your son. What a lovely name you have given him!” Yes, Alex, a lovely name indeed!


A note: Class of 1968 will be hosting a Professors Forum:  A reunion with some of 1968’s favorite faculty members led by coordinated by Lee Gordon and will be held on Saturday, May 12, 2018, from 9:00 to 10:30 AM, with breakfast from 8:00 to 9:00 AM.

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Penn Club of Philadelphia event at the Pennovation Center

Tuesday night, during a beautiful evening in Philadelphia, the Penn Club of Philadelphia and the Penn Alumni Engineering Society hosted a very special event for Penn Alumni, students, and friends at the newly-opened Pennovation Works. Dr. Michael Borda, Penn Director of Research Initiatives, kicked off the evening with a behind-the-scenes tour of the center, an amazing 60,000 sq ft incubator and laboratory that provides resources and space for researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. After the tour, guests enjoyed a panel discussion and Q&A focused on the stages of entrepreneurship, with a special focus on how Penn actively supports the growth and maturation of companies developed by Penn students and alumni. Panelists included Dr. Michael Borda, Director of Research Initiatives, Aleksandr Kushleyev, EE’07, GEE, 07, co-founder, K-Mel (now Qualcomm), Nonya Collier, WG’12, founder Pad Porter, Dr. Mark Yim, Professor and Director of Integrated Product Design, Michael Aronson, W’78, co-founder Red & Blue Ventures. The panel was moderated by Farnia Fresnel, Eng’98, Board Member, Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia, and Bernard Jones, Eng’01, Director, Engineering Alumni Society.


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New Friends, Same Traditions: Penn Connections at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr

On Wednesday, March 1st, the Beaumont Retirement Community of Bryn Mawr held its first University of Pennsylvania reunion. Over 40 residents attended, and enthusiastically celebrated their days at Penn. Those days were fondly remembered as a defining period in their lives. There were many favorable comments regarding Penn’s growth in physical stature from the time when we were students on that campus, until now. The College for Women, The College of Arts and Sciences, and The Law School were most heavily represented, but there were those from other departments as well. Our oldest graduate was from the class of ’41, and the youngest was from the class of ’68. Alumni Relations supplied us with assorted Penn Memorabilia, which added much to the celebratory atmosphere.

SocialMedia Penn-Beaumont-Reunion_PennAlumni-logo 3-6-17

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Blankets of Love

By Denise Winner, W’83

Penn Serves launched the New Year intertwining crocheting, wine and cheese, and Quaker spirit to support Blankets of Love. Over 25 alumni and friends (women and a couple of men too) joined together for a late afternoon training session to learn to crochet in Manhattan Beach. We began with a crochet hook, learned a split knot, made a bunch of loops, practiced on the first row, ripped it out, crocheted a second row (or in some cases ripped it out again) and eventually crocheted the beginnings of a wool scarf.

Blankets of Love was founded less than a year ago from love and hope for every newborn. The organization is in memory of the founders’ beautiful son, Justin Strand, who died way too early due to drug abuse and bad luck. “Babies are on loan from God – love them, raise them and release them”, shares Cyndi Strand, one of the founders. Whether circumstances are bleak or bright, the Strands look forward to creating handmade Blankets of Love to bring some sense of security and joy to babies leaving MLK and other hospitals with mothers and families who have little or no means, or who are living on the street.


The January Penn Serves event was the first organized training and crocheting session for this non-profit. Hopefully those who participated will embrace this new hobby, finish their scarves and move on to a 36 by 36 inch Blanket of Love.

For those interested in donating, blankets must be knit from acrylic or other washable yarns. Learn more about Blankets of Love:

About Penn Serves LA


Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.

We have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy fun experience with fellow alumni.

Join Us

We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!

If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.

Upcoming Events

  • January 26, 2017 – Penn Serves Social
  • March, 2017 – Food Forward Harvesting
  • April, 29, 2017 – Habitat for Humanity

Contact Us

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Jeff Weston, C’05 | Denise Winner, W’83

Read about our previous events:

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Mid-Terms, Finals and Blue Books (80 Weeks To Go)

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

The weekend of October 28-29, 2016 marked 80 weeks until the 25th Reunion of the Penn Class of 1993 (May 11 – 13, 2018)! And we continue the countdown to our reunion by looking back at memories of our time at Penn.

I have a box of old papers and things I saved, and as I sorted through it, I hoped to find ticket stubs from Penn Football and Basketball games. Or maybe those square colored paper invites to parties, or a program from a student performing art group. Surprisingly, I do not seem to have many, if any, of these items. But what I did save? My blue books from Econ 1 mid-terms and exams from our first semester of Freshman year!

Econ 1 exam blue book from the University of Pennsylvania courtesty Kiera Reilly

This must be from our first mid-term in Econ 1, first semester Freshman year.

Flipping through my answers to the exam, there are red marks with apparently the number of points I scored on each question (but no idea how much each question was worth), and a final tally of the points I earned on the exam. No final grade, or context to put the final point total.

Inside the front and back cover of each booklet is the Code of Academic Integrity, and there was a place to sign your name on the back cover.

I have not read through my answers, and probably have not looked at these books since we graduated. But I am glad I saved them, if only to vaguely remember what taking an exam was like twenty-seven years ago in the ground floor of Williams Hall.

Exam Blue book for Kiera Reilly Econ 1 class at University of Pennsylvania

Based on the date, this must be from a second mid-term or exam of Econ 1 from our first semester Freshman year.

Do you remember the exam blue-books? Did you save any of your exams?

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!


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