Quick Facts: 

The Our Penn event will be presented in Hong Kong on March 7, 2017

“Everywhere I go, I meet alumni who tell me fantastic, compelling stories about how Penn has empowered them,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “It occurred to me that while everyone knew their own personal story, they might not realize how many of their classmates shared similar stories and connections to Penn. They also might not realize how many of those stories are written anew each day at Penn.” And so, with a group of typically brilliant undergraduate students and a suitcase full of bricks from Locust Walk (you know, for nostalgic purposes), Dr. Gutmann took to the road to connect past and present, to highlight Penn’s innovation, inclusion, and impact, and to remind us all what a proud story we share.

Billed Our Penn: Let the Conversations Begin, the events featured live and unscripted conversations between Dr. Gutmann and different sets of three Penn students in each of a handful of cities around the world. From Atlanta to London, DC to Boston, Chicago to LA, and beyond, Penn students discussed the various ways in which Penn has affected them as individuals.

Audiences heard from Rhodes Scholars, athletes and entrepreneurs, nurses and researchers, environmental activists and artists, performers and politicos, and students born in the US as well as Haiti, Rwanda, Mexico, Ethiopia, and China. Representing the student body back on campus, the students talked about what led them to Penn, their academic and extra-curricular interests, and the various ways they have made use of the resources and opportunities that the University offers. 

Many of them spoke on behalf of their classmates whose Penn education would not be possible without Penn’s robust commitment to undergraduate financial aid. Currently at Penn, nearly half of the total student body receives a scholarship or some form of grant-based aid to attend.

Engineering senior Natalie Melo, ENG’17, discovered Penn through QuestBridge, a national organization that matches academically gifted low-income students with top colleges. “My parents emigrated from Brazil with very little money,” Natalie said in front of the San Francisco crowd. “As the first person in my family to attend college, I was beyond excited to have the opportunity to study engineering and computer information science at Penn.”

Natalie is also involved with TableTalk Penn, a student-led organization that creates a framework for conversation among people who wouldn’t otherwise meet. The organization’s founder, Sophie Beren, C’17, SPP’18, was on hand at the Los Angeles event to speak about the group’s impact on campus.

Over and over, the students revealed the moments, from study abroad programs in countries all over the world, to service opportunities right here in West Philadelphia, as the Penn experiences that expanded their worldviews and dedicated them to making them an impact both on campus and beyond.

Penn pride was on full display as attendees lined up to pose against a background of Locust Walk, complete with authentic bricks hauled all the way from Philadelphia – one of the more literal ways the event brought Penn to other cities.

“The best part of the Our Penn experience was meeting alumni and seeing their enthusiasm and genuine school spirit,” said Javier Garcia Tafoya, C’16, who spoke in London. “It is so reassuring to see that this community continues after you leave Penn.”

Published on December 23, 2016