Connection: He grew up listening to his grandfather, the
Hon. ˇngel M. MartĚn W39 WG40, sing Penn songs while shaving
and tell stories about a bar called Smokey Joes.
Change for Him: Attending school with women.
Plans to play intramural soccer; volunteer as a tour guide for
Kite and Key; and write for Punch Bowl or The Daily
Undecided. Considering a career in public relations or human
Quadrangle room where Gabriel MartĚns grandfather used to live
has now been turned into a study lounge. But each time the freshman
passes through it, he can picture his grandfather gazing out into
the Quad through his bay window at night. He said he never stopped
studying until he saw more than half the lights off, because that
meant he was studying more than half the people at Penn.
For Gabriel MartĚn, having a connection to Penn through his grandfathera
former Supreme Court judge in Puerto Rico, former president of the
Penn Club of Puerto Rico, and recipient of the Alumni Award of Merit
in 1960has heightened his enjoyment of college life. Its a really
good feeling to walk down the same paths, literally, that he walked
MartĚn finds Penns social scene fun and really well-balanced.
If all you want to do is hang out with friends, thats fine. If
you want to go out to the frats and party, its OK. One of the kids
I hang out with doesnt drink at all, and he still comes out to
diversity is intense, MartĚn adds. A guy down my hall is from
China, and across from him is a guy from Norway, and two doors down
there [are students] from Singapore, Trinidad-Tobago, and Georgia.
Everybody has their own story. The guy from Norway has been in the
Army; hes 20. And the guy from Georgia lived this summer for about
a month out of his car, doing landscaping.
But the biggest change for MartĚnthe graduate of an all boys Catholic
high schoolis the presence of women. I made a comment one day
in sociology and this other girl jumped at me. Nobody had the female
perspective at my old school, so I think its extremely helpful.
MartĚn believes that single-sex schools create better friendships,
and thats one of the reasons hes looking for a fraternity to join.
But hes thinks the mix of students at Penn is great. I dont think
when my grandfather was here they had that kind of diversity.
School Accomplishment: Inventor of Busguard, to prevent
sleeping children from being left on school buses.
Computer and systems
Spielfogel kept hearing news stories about sleeping children being
accidentally left on school buses. So for a science fair in 10th
grade, she decided to build a device to keep young snoozers safe.
Working with a mentor from the New York Institute of Technology,
Spielfogel studied electrical engineering as well as computer programming
as she developed her project. Called Busguard, it uses infrared
beams to detect when a student boards or exits a bus. A computer
program then counts people getting on or off, and a display near
the driver indicates the number on the bus at any given time. At
the end of the route, Spielfogel explains, if its not zero, then
the bus driver knows theres somebody who got on and didnt get
was really good to learn at that level and be taught by a college
professor starting in the tenth grade, she says. Thats what got
me interested in engineering, and thats why I applied to the Engineering
School at Penn.
Spielfogel worked with bus suppliers to try to make the device better
than others already on the market. But because of time constraints,
the project never went further. If time permits, she says, I
will definitely work on it while at Penn.
Grew up in Guatemala City;
recently came from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
careers: Tourism magazine editor and radio broadcaster.
Shes Here: Before coming to Penn, she worked on a project
to bridge the digital divide in two Honduran villages. I want
to learn skills so I can return to my country and finish what
has been started there.
Major: Possibly combining psychology with a business major.
kid from my country is not different than a kid in New York or London,
says Karla Zepeda of Honduras. The difference is that they lack
opportunities. Before coming to Penn, Zepeda helped transform two
isolated Honduran communities, San RamŰn Centro and San Francisco,
into solar-net villages through donations of solar panels and
specially designed computers. Helping the Honduran government work
with other organizations and companies, We started many programs
like distance education, telemedicine and microenterprises in those
villages to improve their quality of life. In the process, Zepeda
says, We discovered three kids that are really geniuses.
But there is so much to do toward the goal of making those villages
self-sustainable, she says. And thats why Zepeda finds herself
a freshman at Penn at the age of 23.
Zepeda went straight from high school in Guatemala, where she grew
up, to the job market in Honduras, where she moved with her family.
Showing up at a radio station one day to promote her boyfriends
ska-music CD, her enthusiasm so impressed the manager that the station
offered her a broadcasting job. That was a challenge for me, she
says. Ive always been laidback and shy, more of a writing person,
but I took the challenge. I had my own pop and rock music show,
and I had to talk every two songs and be really prepared to say
jokes and important things to keep everyone awake in their cars.
That job led to an offer to write for, and then edit, a tourism
magazinea great challenge.
But what brought Zepeda to Penn was another challenge. When her
family returned to Honduras, her father became the minister of science
and technology and started a project to bridge the digital divide
in Honduras (www.onsatnet.com). I was fascinated and wanting to
know more, and that was the way I got involved. Zepeda helped with
some of the logistics as well as translating Spanish and English
during meetings, but was frustrated that she could not play a bigger
role. Thats when I realized if only I had a degree in engineering
or computer science or economics or some other field, I would actually
be working on one of these projects.
Zepeda lives in a single room in Ware College House, citing her
need for privacy, sleep, and study time. At 23, she believes she
has the advantage of a few more years experience: Im organized
and I know what Im looking for. But in a way I feel Im in the
same ship [with other freshman] by being away from home and [making
a] cultural adaptation.
Zepeda admits, for example, that she was thrown off by the unisex
bathrooms on her floor. She came up with a compromise, putting a
brick just inside the door, so the men on her hall would know when
she was taking a shower and leave. Every guy in that hall has been
Another thing that
has helped her is forming friendships with others in her hall who
live in single rooms. Well call each other and ask, How was your
day? Shes also making plans with her boyfriend back home to chat
with a video camera on the Internet. Having his support to come
here was incredible.