Tag Archives: Denzel Washington

Front Row Seat

Author: Elise Betz

I had the best seat on Franklin Field for Commencement.  Why?  Because I acted as the “Stage Marshal.”

Here is why I have that honor year after year. In 2004, when Dr. Gutmann was inaugurated, I was asked to be a marshal at the formal inauguration ceremony in Irvine Auditorium.  It was a wonderful event and my job was to seat all of the visiting representatives from colleges and universities.  I did my job very well and caught the eye of the Commencement planners.  They were impressed with my seating skills, so since 2004, I have been assisting the “stage party” at Commencement.  The “stage party” includes Dr. Gutmann, the Trustees, Deans, VPs, honorary degree recipients and the Commencement Speaker. Eminent people walk by me every year – Bono, Jodi Foster, Jon Huntsman, Denzel Washington.  The perks include saving front row seats for my faculty friends…

…And also getting to see exactly where Denzel Washington will be sitting.

I  also had the opportunity to watch the Class Board carry the flags in and to take a great photo of them in front of the stage:

Here is the view of the stage from my seat:

The best part of my marshal job each year is having the perfect seat to listen to the Commencement speaker.  This year, Denzel Washington delivered a moving and poignant speech – my favorite line: “Remember this: You’ll never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” A great reminder that we can’t take our possessions with us when we go…That what matters most are our day to day interactions with people.

The only thing I am taking with me are the memories. . . . many of which were made right here on this amazing University of Pennsylvania campus!


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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Commencement, Elise B., Memories of Penn

Author: Amanda M. D’Amico, The Penn Fund

Ten days ago, the campus was alive – soon-to-be graduates marched down Locust Walk, parents and alumni watched with pride and Denzel Washington and President Amy Gutmann spoke to an exuberant crowd.

Commencement 2011

Since last Monday, the population on campus has drastically decreased – only staff, faculty members, and a fraction of the student population have stayed behind for the summer.

While some of our neighbors in West Philadelphia might be pleased that there aren’t hordes of students clogging up the sidewalks and slowing down the line at Fresh Grocer, without the students, the campus has lost a lot of what makes Penn Penn. The University’s  academic prowess is unchallenged – it is a world-class institution with outstanding faculty members and researchers. Every day, Penn makes strides towards new discoveries and inventions and towards building a better world. But what makes Penn truly a great place to be is the feeling on campus, and the students provide that.

Penn just isn’t the same without students lounging on College Green, rushing in and out of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, and throwing a Frisbee around outside of their college house. Penn students make the campus more than offices and a business – they make Penn a home.

The Button

We’ll have to wait until Convocation for Penn to have that feeling again (and take advantage of the shorter lines at the food trucks in the mean time). I know that at least one staff member will be counting down the days until September 4, and I’d bet that most of the other staff members will be too.

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Filed under Alumni Weekend, Commencement