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The Class of 2000 looks back.
cover story of the October 1996 issue of The Pennsylvania Gazetteas
of not a few other alumni magazines that fallwas on the incoming freshman
class, who would graduate in the momentous year 2000. While opinion remains
divided on whether 2000 represents the dawn of the new millennium or the
last gasp of the old, by most accounts the years arrival failed to live
up to expectations, dire or otherwise. But how about the Class of 2000s
experience of Penn?
As their time on campus grew short in May, we e-mailed
everyone quoted or pictured in that story with a list of questions about
their academic majors and initial expectations of Penn, their favorite
and least favorite spots on campus, memorable moments, significant classes
and people, plans for the futureand, finally, for any advice they had
for the incoming Class of 2004 (the last, or first, of the millennium
to be admitted to the University). Six took time out from papers,
finals, packing and whatever else they were doing to respond. Heres what
they had to say.JP
Kathryn Dekas W00
I concentrated in marketing and minored in psychology.
When I came to Penn, I was undecided as to what my major/concentration
For the most part, Penn was very close to what I expected.
That said, the students were even more intelligent and dynamic than I
had anticipated. I probably learned more from my peers, both inside and
outside of the classroom, than from professors.
My favorite place is probably the top of the 38th
Street bridge looking down on Locust Walk, or the cafe in the Bookstore.
My least favorite is the wind tunnels in Superblock.
Without a doubt, I will miss my friends and peers
the most. The friendships formed in college are unparalleled, and I will
probably never have such an impressive group of peers again, both to work
and socialize with. I will least miss the exams!
Management 100 has been my most valued class. I was
a TA for three years after taking it as a freshman, and have seen its
positive effect on an amazing number of people. Through the class, I have
been introduced to some of the most incredible people I have ever metprofessors,
students and fellow TAs. It was a wonderful experience.
Penn has helped me figure out what I truly feel is
important in life. This sounds very broad, but through challenging me
on many levels and presenting different situations, Penn forced me to
make choices and determine what I really valued.
Next year I am working for Andersen Consulting.
I would emphasize to freshmen that over the course
of four years, a persons Penn experience will change a lot. Its important
not to form your ultimate opinion of Penn during freshman year.
Smita A. Rahman C’00
I majored in political science, with a concentration
in political theory, and also rediscovered my love for the ancient world
along the way and picked up a minor in classical studiesa far cry from
my first few weeks when I anticipated majoring in physics. I was inspired
tremendously by my very first political science class and made the impulsive
decision to declare my major freshman year, which I have never regretted.
I came in with stars in my eyes, which faded by the
end of my first semester (I am surprised they lasted that long). I resented
Penn enough to leave for Washington for the Fall semester of my sophomore
year, but that was the lowest point. I have truly loved this place. I
may gripe about its vocational nature and occasionally about the XandO-fication
[XandO is the name of the coffeehouse in Sansom CommonEd.] of
campus, but it has given me too many great memories. I almost loved it
enough to stay another six years and get my Ph.D. here.
My favorite place on campus was the beach, the little
patch of grass across from Van Pelt House, where I spent multiple afternoons
and nights talking, reading, singing, dancing in the rain and all kinds
of things that I cant mention here. The other favorite was the 3 a.m.
Saturday night cheesesteak line at Billybobs (whose demise I mourn every
weekend). My least favorite was Stiteler Hall, where I spent way too much
of my timenot only for the ugly concrete brutalism of its architecture
but also the hit-or-miss temperature, freezing in winter and broiling
in the summer.
Ill miss the crazy weekends with my friends, grilling
in our backyard, the fourth quarter atmosphere at the Palestra during
Penn-Princeton gamesand Ill honestly miss Locust Walk. Im very glad
to be done with the huge meaningless lecture courses that I skipped as
often as I possibly could.
Ive acquired a lot more humility, become very open-minded
and much more relaxed now than I was as a competitive little freshman.
I am starting graduate school in the fall in the doctoral
program in political science at Johns Hopkins University with a concentration
in political theory. I plan to pursue an academic career.
Advice to freshmen: Let it wash over you, at least
for a few weeks.
Peggy Hanefors C00
When I came to Penn I was set on majoring in communication
with a focus on political campaigns. I am now a double major in communication
(had taken too many classes for it not to be a major) and environmental
studies. I also have a minor in political science.
I did not really know what Penn was going to be like,
so I am not sure how it compares with my expectations. One thing I can
say is that it was much better than I ever could have imagined. A lot
One of my absolute favorite places is Franklin Field
during the Penn Relays. I can go there and forget everything about the
schoolwork I should be doing. Seeing all those athletes perform to the
best of their ability is inspiring. A similar calmness, and general feel-good
sensation, comes over me whenever I attend a Penn track meet. I have been
to all but one home meet during my four years here. Even though I do not
run myself, I enjoy watching the actionor sometimes the lack of it. Many
question why I so religiously attend all meets. The first outdoor meet
is always freezing. I wear at least five layers of clothing and am freezing
when I get home after five straight hours in the cold, but I always have
a smile on my face.
My least favorite place at Penn was my apartment sophomore
year. I did not exactly get along well with my roommates. I am confident
in saying that we are all happy that ordeal is over.
I will miss my friends and fellow students the most.
The people who go to school at Penn are so amazing. Every day I meet someone
new who is doing incredible things. I cant imagine any other place like
this. The diversity of the student body is exciting. I really see that
when talking with people about what they will be doing next year. One
is helping small-business owners in Latin America through the Peace Corps;
another has gotten a sponsor that will allow him to run for a living;
a third is teaching English as a second language in Washingtonand then
of course there is the crowd of business geniuses taking Silicon Valley
I think the only thing I will not miss are the papers
I have had to write.
value my freshman-year roommate, Akta Patel, more than anything. She and
I certainly did not look that compatible on paper, so we both were a little
nervous before moving in together. It worked out better than either of
us ever could imagine. We are the best of friends. She taught me so much.
Freshman year, I was not always able to look at a problem from a new,
different perspective. By alwaysand I mean always taking an opposite
point of view, Akta taught me to see things in a new light. I sometimes
wanted to kill her, but now I value the lesson I learned.
Right now I am blissfully unaware of what the future
holds. After a year or two, I think I want to go to graduate school. I
would like to get a doctoral degree in environmental emergency-response
planning. I have not yet decided the angle from which I want to study
this problem. I guess I will have time to figure that out this coming
Advice to freshmen: EXPLORE!
Tara D. McGuinness C00
I am an urban studies major. When I first came to Penn
I was an English major. In fact, I was a double major for a long time.
Now I am just urban studies, a decision I made so that I could study abroad
for an extended period.
I cant remember what I thought Penn was going to
be like. (I should check out that old article and see.) What I can say
is that Penn has become something tremendous for me. I dont think there
is anything like urban studies at Penn. It is really an outstanding departmentin
my unbiased opinion, the finest at Pennand I have had the opportunity
to become engaged in work throughout West Philadelphia and the city as
a whole related to my major.
left: Mary McGuinness GNu'70, Ryan McGuinness C'03, Tara McGuinness
C'00, Terence McGuinness
West Philadelphia is my favorite neighborhood (that
I have ever lived in). The Carrot Cake Mana joint exclusively for carrot
cakes here in West Phillyis one of my favorite places.
I will miss the people here a great deal. I have met
some unbelievable folks at Penn, kids and professors and staff alike.
I think I take for granted all of the pieces associated with a huge university
environment: Constantly interesting and edifying stuff going on, people
awake 24 hours a day talking and producing and concentrating on things
without the underlying cost-benefit analysis.
I made a point of only taking outstanding classes,
so the list of influential professors is quite long. However, I would
have likely left Penn had I not become involved with the work of Dr. Ira
Harkavy and Dr. Lee Benson while holding a Ford Fellowship my freshman
year. There is a small but powerful cohort of students and professors
and community members who take a very experiential approach to higher
academe that have really altered the direction of my undergraduate career
and post-graduate pursuits. At the center of this work is the idea that
civic responsibility, advanced academe and innovative urban development
can be intertwined in a Penn education.
When I entered Penn I had a ton of interest and enthusiasm;
now I have some experiences to really support my interest in directing
change. The lessons of my Penn education span from carrying all of my
worldly belongings on my back into the mountains of Eastern Nepal to pick
rice and interview rural women about property rights, to working with
police, youth gun-offenders and trauma surgeons to address issues of violence
in Philadelphia, to taking the oral histories of former residents of University
City in order to script a community-based production on urban renewal.
I cant give a neat statement on how Penn has changed me, but these things
are just a few of my experiences studying here.
After graduation, I am going to India with another
Class of 2000 graduate, Bea Jauregui C00. She and I have received a grant
from the University Scholars Program to conduct an ethnographic study
on inter-caste, inter-faith families and socio-political conflict throughout
India. I will be going to Nepal after this study to perhaps work on some
development projects in Kathmandu. And I am deciding whether I will begin
an international comparative legal studies masters program at the School
for Oriental and African Studies in London this coming fall or whether
I will return to work on some violence-policy projects here in the States.
In terms of my long-term goals, there are a few: I
want to play rhythm guitar in this band called Cosmo; I am interested
in joining the small but influential ranks of American female political
figures; I would like to conduct a comparative, ethnographic study of
violence in the U.S. and the UK; and I would like to publish non-academic
Advice to freshmen: 1. Explore Philadelphia; it is
your new home. 2. Spend time abroad. 3. When it rains, play in the mud
in the Quad. 4. Study what makes you happy.
Christine Phillips W00
Im in Wharton; my concentration is accounting. I did
not know what my concentration was going to be when I started.
I did not have any expectations of Penn because I
did not visit before choosing (Im from Hawaii), but my experience here
has been one that I have throughly enjoyed.
Favorite place: Campus green when the weather is nice
and lots of people are out. Least favorite place: Van Pelt Library.
I will miss being in school when Im working nine-to-five.
Ill miss running into people on the Walk; also, the Penn scene. Ill
be glad to be done taking tests and having to deal with grading curves.
I have adapted to the East Coast way of life. Im
not sure if Ive changed in any other ways.
After graduation, Im moving to New York to do audit
work for Ernst & Young.
Advice to freshmen: Dont squander your time here.
Do everything you want to. Dont have any regrets, because the time will
Tafari Smith W00
My majors are marketing and management. When I first
came here, I thought about majoring in French, but then I realized that
was a School of Arts and Sciences department a few weeks into the semester.
So, it became my minor.
I believed Penn was much more academic than I found
it. It could be that since Im in Wharton, I wasnt exposed to Penns
truly academic (read: liberal arts) side. Still, it hasnt been
a disappointment, as I have learned a great deal and have been exposed
to new ideas.
My favorite place in the neighborhood is the Wurst
House pizzeria at 43rd and Baltimore. It has a great international beer
selection and cheap eats. My least favorite is the XandOalmost as expensive
as a Penn education.
Ill miss the late-night socializing and being legal
my senior year. Also, I enjoy the fact that some of my best friends are
just a block away in any direction. I wont miss the 9 a.m. lectures,
the curve, and the Friday morning recitation. (Oh wait, most jobs start
at 9 a.m., dont they?)
I took a College House seminar course on Students
and the Political Process that was especially interesting. Another course
was Corporate Ethics.
Penn has definitely taught me how to be more aggressive
and proactive. Its amazing how ingenious one has to be to get through
the bureaucracy inherent in large organizations.
Immediately, Ill be working in Philly for First Union
Securities doing analyst work in the leveraged-finance unit. Around three
years out, I plan on getting my MBA in London and working in Europe for
I would tell freshmen to take advantage of Philadelphia.
There are lots of great shops, bars and other entertaining things about
the city. For Whartonites, avoid Steiney-D (Steinberg-Dietrich Hall) after
midnight. Its filled with red-eyed, exhausted, delirious finance majors.
Its the twilight zone.
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2000 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 9/19/08