93 Reasons Why We Love Penn

93 Reasons Why We Love Penn

By Kiera Reilly, C’93

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

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

Here are 93 Reasons Why We Love Penn!

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

Spring Fling in the Quad, courtesy of Jennifer Jarrett

  1. Move-in day Freshman Year

Move-in day outside of the Quad, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

The Bookstore Wall, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

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

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

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

Feb Club ad from the Daily Pennsylvanian, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

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

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


Smokey Joe’s, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

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

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



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

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

Crossword Puzzle from the DP courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

Street Society column from the Daily Pennsylvanian, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

Streaking in the Quad, courtesy of Jenn Spadano-Gasbarro

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

Prof. Rubenstein’s book and Marianne studying in the USSR, courtesy of Marianne Alves Brogdale

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



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

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

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

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



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Where in the World is the Penn Alumni Travel Program?

Catch up with Penn Alumni Travel and plan your next trip!

Treasures of Peru (June 6-16, 2017) with Professor David Kazanjian


Click here for trip photos.

Penn alumni and friends joined Penn Professor David Kazanjian on a journey through Peru. The group started in the metropolis of Lima before flying to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. After a lecture from Professor Kazanjian on the Spanish conquistadors, the group got to explore Incan civilization and the effects of Spanish rule first hand with visits to Ollantaytambo and a traditional Spanish hacienda, before visiting the crown jewel of Inca engineering: Machu Picchu. The group ended the tour in Puno and Lake Titicaca where they learned about the Uros Floating Islands and life at 13,000 feet. For more information about this trip or any Penn Alumni Travel trip, please click here. 

Survey Quotes:

“We trusted Penn to fulfill our dream of visiting Machu Picchu and they delivered a trip that exceeded all our expectations while representing Penn in the best possible way, and honestly, one of the best parts was our fellow travelers who provided the nicest feeling of comradery! We’re already looking at future destinations!” – Susan Carew, Penn Spouse

“[A highlight was] not just Machu Picchu, but the overall wonderment that every day (sometimes twice or three times a day) we would see or experience so many things we had never seen or experienced before.”– Richard Leisner, L’70

Southern France (May 23 – June 4, 2016) with University Curator Lynn Marsden-Atlass

sofranceClick here for trip photos. 

Penn alumni and friends traveled through Southern France with University Curator Lynn Marsden-Atlass, a specialist in 19th– and 20th-century French art. In addition to several formal lectures, Marsden-Atlass treated the group to personal tours through museums filled with art by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, among others. Alumni and friends toured medieval cities, enjoyed private wine-tastings at vineyards, and saw remnants of the once-great Roman Empire. For more information about this trip or any Penn Alumni Travel trip, please click here. 

Survey Quotes:

“It is a real pleasure to have been able to travel as part of a group that is interested in the arts and history and which got along so well. And it is a special treat to be accompanied by a Penn scholar.”– David Moskowitz, W’71

“This tour was an absolute pleasure… The travel arrangements were excellent: a comfortable bus and congenial driver, outstanding tour guides, lovely hotels with amazing food, and an interesting and diverse itinerary. Perfect for art buffs and lovers of good food and wine.”– Dimi Berkner, CW’64


El Camino de Santiago (June 3-15, 2016) with Professor Thomas Max Safley

caminoClick here for trip photos.

Penn alumni and friends hiked the Camino de Santiago with Professor Thomas Max Safley, an expert on early modern European history. The Camino, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a 1,000 year-old pilgrimage route to the spiritual capital of Santiago de Compostela and one of Europe’s most famous walking trails. Along the way, alumni and friends enjoyed lovely scenery, medieval towns, and (of course) fine Spanish cuisine. In Burgos and Leon, the group marveled at majestic gothic cathedrals. In Silos, they experience Gregorian chant performed by the world-famous monks. At the end of the hike, the group experienced the Botafumeiro ritual, a famous incense-burning ritual in the cathedral itself. For more information about this trip or any Penn Alumni Travel trip, please click here.

Survey Quotes:

“A trip through Penn can open a new world of travel. The faculty component really made this experience all encompassing.”– Gretchen Gall

“This trip was a perfect way to experience [the Camino], with many opportunities to walk part of it combined with a historical tour across Northern Spain. The trip was very well organized with attention to every detail, good hotels, fine meals, terrific guides and a wonderful group of travel mates of all ages.”– Jane Barnsteiner, NU’70, GNU’73

The Great Journey (June 25-July 5, 2016) with Professor Rebecca Bushnell

great journey

Click here for trip photos.

Professor Rebecca Bushnell hosted Penn alumni and friends on a “Grand Tour” of Europe. The group enjoyed stunning scenery in Switzerland before cruising the Rhine River and visiting beautiful Alsatian Strasbourg. Along the way, Professor Bushnell introduced the group to past authors who described these scenes for an 18th-century audience. For more information about Penn Alumni Travel visit: www.alumni.upenn.edu/travel.

Across Spain and Portugal (June 14-30, 2016) with Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw

spainClick here for trip photos.

Penn alumni and friends traveled across Spain and Portugal with Art History Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw. After arriving in Lisbon, Portugal, alumni traveled to Oporto and enjoyed a cruise on the Douro River. Crossing into Spain, the group visited the pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela then traveled along northern Spain to points of interest including Leon and Bilbao where they visited the Guggenheim Fine Arts Museum and learned about the collection from Professor Shaw. For more information about Penn Alumni Travel visit: www.alumni.upenn.edu/travel.

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Strategic Volunteer Opportunity

Strategic volunteer opportunity for Penn alums in NYC, Philadelphia and Silicon Valley. Apply by 8/19 to join us this Fall.

Over 100 Penn alumni put their professional skills to work this year to make a positive impact on their cities. They joined PennPAC (Pro bono Alumni Consulting) to volunteer as strategic consultants to nonprofits in New York and Philadelphia. In teams of alumni curated by PennPAC, they supported organizations serving a broad range of clients from children seeking a best start to their education to adults seeking legal aid. Projects varied from the development of marketing plans to market entry strategies.  During our most recent round, which concluded in May, six nonprofits were supported via 8-10 week consulting engagements, while two were supported via one-time ImPACt volunteer events.


PennPAC project team celebrating their project completion.

This Spring was PennPAC’s 10th project round.  Over the past five years, PennPAC has brought together Penn alumni-volunteers from almost every school at Penn and from a wide range of ages and careers. From newly minted accountants to retired marketing executives, from architects to lawyers, PennPAC draws a varied, intelligent group of enthusiastic, energetic alums seeking to make positive change in their cities. Volunteers work as consultants on 8-10 week projects, attend one-time ImPACt volunteer events, and also support PennPAC via special projects.

Since PennPAC’s founding in 2011, Penn alums have volunteered to provide over $2.5 million in consulting services to over 40 nonprofits, all while having fun, expanding their networks and fine-tuning their professional skills.  As Volunteer JC Ibarra (WH 2012) shared during his project: “It is satisfying to have an outlet to deliver impact for a good cause…PennPAC is my first significant extracurricular commitment post graduating from Penn, and I can’t think of a better way to spend some free time.” Volunteer Elise Udolf (CAS 1982) echoes the sentiment: “I found working with our team extremely rewarding. Not having the same areas of expertise as some of my teammates, I found the experience enlightening and very interesting.”

Penn alumni also serve as the daily PennPAC management, marketing and operations team. Jackie Einstein Astrof (CAS 1993) is the Founder and Executive Director, Anne Turner (WG  1994) is as the Chief Operations Officer, Jeannette Chang (WH 2008) is the Vice Chair of Volunteer Relations and Bleema Bershad (WH 1995) is the Director of Communications.

Join us!  Volunteer with PennPAC:

  • NYC – Learn more and apply by 8/19 to join us for 8-10 week projects beginning October 2016 (time commitments begin at 3-5 hours/week) or subscribe to our email list to hear more about our one-time ImPACt volunteer opportunities and other events
  • Philadelphia – Leadership opportunities available, contact philly@pennpac.org for more information.
  • Silicon Valley – Learn more about joining the founding team here.


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Relationships Matter

By Howard “Howdy” Freedlander, Col’67 and PAR’02

I learned first-hand on a lovely Wednesday evening, June 29, 2016, that relationships underscore the essence of giving.

The occasion was a pre-50th reunion gathering at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) to view a guided tour of a new exhibit, Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection of Contemporary Art.

The guides were Keith, W’67, and Kathy, CW’69. Keith is a friend and co-gift chair of our Class of 1967’s 50th reunion, as he has been for at least five past reunions. As President of the Class of 1967 since 2002, I I have been fortunate to work with Keith and observe his work ethic and fundraising prowess. I’ve gotten to know and like Kathy, an emeritus trustee of the University of Pennsylvania.

Back to relationships and their transformative effect.

Art became an immediate part of Keith and Kathy’s lives. When Keith graduated from Penn, Kathy gave him an antique print of Penn. When he entered Harvard Law School, she bought him another Penn print. When they became engaged, she gave him a Miro print.

Their loving relationship began with art. It continues. Their collection of contemporary art is a prized part of PMA and, even more broadly, the tapestry of Philadelphia’s cultural offerings.

As they learned about what they liked and didn’t like, the Sachses took a serious leap in their search for art in the early 1980s when they approached Paul Rosenthal, a former curator of 20th-century art at PMA and sought his advice. This connection to PMA was a critical one, though the Sachses have long been involved with the museum as trustees, committee chairs, guides and co-curators.

As a group of roughly 30 of us dutifully followed and questioned Keith and Kathy through their special exhibit and other galleries containing their art, we learned that this couple has had long-term relationships and friendships with some of the artists, including Jasper Johns, well-known in the contemporary art world. In fact, Keith relentlessly sought one of Johns’ pieces, finally acquiring it after 15 years of effort.


Keith Sachs describes his efforts to acquire Jasper Johns paintings.

Also during our tour, another thing became readily evident: Keith and Kathy’s loving relationship. Each yielded comfortably to each other in telling a personal story or explaining an artist’s thinking and creativity. You could feel their enthusiasm. You could observe their thoughtful approach to collecting art for four decades.


Kathy Sachs, foreground, and Keith Sachs (pointing) lead a group of Penn ’67 alums on a tour of a special exhibition of contemporary art collected by Keith and Kathy and promised to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

What we saw at PMA has been part of the Sachs’ home in Rydal, PA. The art and their home have been one of the same. Another personal relationship.

The promised gift of more than 100 paintings, sculptures, prints and videos is one based on multiple relationships: between Keith and Kathy, between the Sachses and the museum, between the Sachses and the artists, and, on a macro level, between this generous couple and a city they love, Philadelphia.

And it all started at Penn.

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Medical Anniversary

– Howard “Howdy” Freedlander, Col’67 and PAR’02

howard_freedlanderAs I mark the one-year anniversary of my prostate cancer surgery, I feel thankful, mostly for the peace of mind I’ve enjoyed for 12 months. The cancer is gone, thank God.

I’ve learned, however, that periodic tests drive or disturb mental calm. In the first year after surgery, one undergoes quarterly blood tests to determine your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level. At the risk of discussing science that I don’t completely understand, PSA levels can determine your propensity for cancer. In my case, with my prostate removed, the test indicates if the cancer has vanished, or possibly recurred.

An academic test seems far less momentous than a three-lettered blood test. The grade you seek is “undetectable.” It’s comparable to an A-plus. So far, my four tests—as required in the 12 months following surgery–have shown no evidence of cancer. In consequent years, the tests are every six months.

While I might seem light-hearted about the PSA tests, I am not. My medical journey in the spring of 2015 began with PSA results that indicated significant concern. These results led to a biopsy, which produced even worse news. I realize that test results can change over time.

I think about a close friend who underwent monthly tests following a brain-tumor operation. I tried to imagine his fear, the foreboding. His fortunes were not as cheerful as mine. His cancer recurred. Consequently, he had to withstand another intrusive brain operation. He died Tuesday, June 7, 2016. I grieve the loss of this friend.

One of the best things that has occurred during the past 12 months has been the opportunity to provide advice to friends dealing with prostate cancer, or its probability. “Advice” is probably a bit inaccurate. I listen. I ask questions. And I relate my experience. Different options exist for the treatment of prostate cancer, considered one of the most curable cancer diseases.

Very recently, a Penn classmate and close friend, called to say that his PSA was elevated. Like me, he had many questions and concerns. We had a candid conversation. His medical situation sounded eerily familiar. He promised to call me back after he and his wife met with a urologist and charted a course of action. We spoke Saturday, June 4. His urologist did not believe that my friend faced a cancer diagnosis.

I’ve taken other calls from friends. Mind you, I am no expert, just a survivor so far. After answering perfectly good questions, I then offer the main lesson I learned during my time of anxiety: the path you choose has everything to do with your personality. Surgery is immediate. Radiation takes longer. Both are successful. I was too impatient to await the results of three months of radiation. I sought peace of mind, quickly.

Fortunately—or maybe unfortunately—a large number of men are out and about in every community in the United States, having experienced the treatment of prostate cancer. As I learned, one simply has to call a member of this non-exclusive men’s club to seek advice and find solace. I had no idea about the extent of this unstructured support group.

During my career, I worked hard to establish expertise. I wanted to be a valuable and valued employee. I had hoped to contribute talent to a project or mission. I never imagined that a medical calamity was a desirable source of expertise. Life keeps intervening in sometimes difficult ways.

I live with some of the after-effects of prostate cancer surgery. I won’t elaborate. My candor has limitations. The inconvenience is bearable. I keep my eye on life and its longevity and potential for happiness.

I monitor my PSA tests. I keep in touch with my surgeon and family physician. And I try to provide support to friends who are facing the prospect of prostate cancer. I want to help, just as people whom I knew only through referrals helped me.







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Penn Serves LA Helps Rescued Rabbits

Penn Serves LA assisted at a bunny rescue adoption event on March 12, 2016. Here is the report of their day by Denise Winner, W’83

Rabbit 4 the bunny

Did you know there are more than 5,000 bunnies seeking homes in the Los Angeles? And, did you know that rabbits can be house trained and make wonderful pets? Penn Serves spent an afternoon nuzzling, cuddling, playing and socializing with the abandoned bunnies. Alumni nestled in the crates with one to three bunnies, each bunny having its unique personality – bashful, adorable, playful, and super huggable!

The Los Angeles Rabbit Foundation battles the escalating over population of bunnies. Its mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and place abandoned rabbits. Weekly, the Foundation hosts rescue events at Centinela Feed in Los Angeles. The rescue is always looking for volunteers. And, for those of you interested in trying out a bunny, consider fostering a rabbit. For more information, contact losangelesrabbits@earthlink.net.

Penn Serves LA has many terrific projects for all ages on the calendar for the coming months.

Upcoming Penn Serves LA events:

About Penn Serves LA

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.

Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at pennserves@gmail.com. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

The Penn Serves LA Team

Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Denise Winner, W’83 | Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Aileen Level, C’99, GED’00 | Irene Park, C’05 | Jeff Weston, C’05

Read about our previous events:

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Dispatches from Penn Alumni Travel

For more information about Penn Alumni Travel, click here.


The Amazon (February 12-21, 2016) with Professor Michael Weisberg

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upennalumni/albums/72157664876618939

In February, Penn alumni and friends joined Professor Michael Weisberg, a specialist in the philosophy of science, for a river cruise down the Amazon River. Passengers enjoyed daily hikes and lessons about local flora and fauna. Professor Weisberg enhanced their experience with talks about evolution and Darwin.

Survey Quotes:

“Michael’s presentations were interesting, informative, and entertaining. He entertained a wide variety of questions and responded intelligently and gracefully.”- John Cooke


Tahiti and French Polynesia (February 4-14, 2016) with Professor Michael Gamer

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upennalumni/albums/72157664723367406

In February, Penn Alumni Travel sailed through French Polynesia with English Professor Michael Gamer. While enjoying clear blue water, lush forests, and a beautiful cruising ship, alumni were treated to lectures by Professor Gamer about the voyages of Captain James Cook and the images of French Polynesia in popular British literature.

Survey Quotes:

“Michael Gamer is an excellent representative and ambassador for the University of Pennsylvania. His scholarly and entertaining lectures added significantly to the cruise as they were directly on point with the history of Captain Cook and his discovery of French Polynesia. Michael’s easy and outgoing personality made him a delight to be around.” –Susan Kaufman, SW’85

“Michael brought passion and enthusiasm into his briefings. He held my interest and the material was invaluable.”- Anonymous

“There were many highlights to our trip. The Tour Directors went above and beyond to ensure that all needs were met; the staff who presented lectures were enjoyable and loved what they were doing; the staff on the ship was exceptional and could not do enough to make our stay memorable; and we enjoyed meeting so many great people and our relationships will continue even after this trip. Thanks.”- Anonymous


Moroccan Discovery (February 26-March 10, 2016) with Professor Roger Allen

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upennalumni/albums/72157665907134972

Last month, Penn Alumni Travel embarked on a voyage across Morocco with Professor Roger Allen of Near Eastern Languages and Literature. Professor Allen, a Moroccan “Commander of National Merit,” delighted guests with surprise guests including the Moroccan Minister of Religious Affairs. Highlights included a stay in Marrakesh and a sunset camel-ride through the Sahara.

Survey Quotes:

“Roger is extremely knowledgeable– about Morocco, Penn, and numerous other areas. He added a whole new dimension to the tour.”- Frank Homburger, W’74

“We had a truly wonderful experience with the Penn Alumni Tour to Morocco. It included a fascinating itinerary, top-notch hotels, great meals, a very small group of travelers, a remarkable faculty host, a very helpful alumni relations representative, and highly knowledgeable tour guide. A great value!”- Frank Homburger, W’74


Mystical India (February 28-March 15, 2016) with Professor Larry Silver

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/upennalumni/sets/72157666281916645/

Penn alumni and friends recently returned from a tour across northern India, visiting such highlights as Old and New Delhi; Agra, home of the Taj Mahal; Jaipur, the “Pink City”; and Varanasi, India’s holiest city. Alumni also visited Ranthambore Tiger Preserve and were treated to several up-close encounters with these majestic cats. Professor Larry Silver gave lectures on Indian art throughout, and passengers were joined by local Penn alumni during their time in Delhi.

Survey Quotes:

“A wealth of knowledge and delightful to be with! I would take any Penn trip where Larry was the faculty host.”- Shelly Ziegelman, GR’86, GFA’86

“Another brilliant trip with Penn Alumni Travel! When we start to plan a trip, we always check with Penn first. Thoughtful itineraries, excellent guides, wonderful travel companions.”- Marti Rosenberg, CW’72

“After my first Penn Alumni trip I will never travel any other way. I appreciate the hours of planning that went into our trip and the incredible educational content.”- Shelly Ziegelman, GR’86, GFA’86

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