For Mikel Elam, the canvas is a portal.
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For Mikel Elam, the canvas is a portal.
A few inches away from a dumpster in a parking lot sit half a dozen people, their legs hanging over a hole they’ve been digging for the last week. It’s a motley crew. An undergrad student works in sync with a Ph.D. who’s decked out in round glasses and a safari hat to clear away the dirt with brushes and spades. A professor helps an older woman get up after her legs fall asleep while digging in the pit. A mom and her 13–year–old son can hardly contain their excitement when they find a broken glass bottle.
Mya Gordon (C ‘24) is emotionally attached to the black squirrel by Houston Hall and the turtles at the BioPond. It makes sense, given the fact that Mya is constantly invested in the community around her—whether she’s volunteering in the West Philly community or going on a spontaneous walk to explore her surroundings. In the midst of sleepless nights applying for grad school, Mya offered us a sneak peek of her past four years at Penn, reminding us to seek joy wherever we go. Before riding away on her baby blue bicycle, Mya tied up her pants with a hair tie so they wouldn’t catch in the gears and headed off on her next adventure.
I learned to drive in my mom’s minivan. It might have been the same old white Toyota my mom had long driven me to school in, but when I was behind the wheel, that minivan became an entirely different vehicle (and safety risk). But no matter who was driving, we would always turn the volume dial all the way to the right as soon as we heard the first note of the guitar riff that would inevitably lead to us screaming, “You’ve got a fast car…”
I was walking through pouring rain when Bean called to see if I wanted to work with him this summer. I had promised my mom that I would come home, a prospect I wasn’t entirely excited about—it would mean reinstated curfews and the self–imposed house arrest of the 110 degree Texas heat. Bean had been a mentor for me throughout high school, and when he first offered me the job, I was tentative. In many ways it felt like a step backwards: I’d be working with a local nonprofit to help coach a youth slam poetry team, a program I’d been a part of all throughout high school. When I went to college I wanted nothing more than to move forward, to leave behind everything I once was as a teenager in Sugar Land and re–emerge a metamorphosed girl. But here I was back again after my first year, in the same lifeless town, in the same small life.
It all began with picking my little sister up from a museum camp. Part of the privileges of being home for the summer is the duty of providing the rides necessary in my public transportation–less hometown of Houston. While waiting for my passenger, I meandered through the halls to find the museum's latest art exhibition: Artists on Site. After tugging on the locked door (and double checking that it wasn’t actually a “pull”), I began to walk away when a young woman in her twenties unlocked the door to let me in.
What happens in college a cappella doesn’t always stay in college a cappella.
My life lives on Google Calendar. Each hour of my life is carefully measured and categorized in beautiful color–coded blocks that account for everything from my class schedule to lunches with friends to “Rotting in Van Pelt.” During the school year, I would play a solo game of Jenga on Sunday night, attempting to figure out how to fit everything on my to–do list into the 168 hours I had in a week. In some ways, my Google Calendar is a diary of my existence, a catalogue of how I spend my waking days—or at least intend to, considering the plethora of 6 a.m. runs scattered throughout my calendar that I've definitely slept through.
Editor's Note: This article contains spoilers for Season 3 of 'Ted Lasso'
To Winston Peloso (C ’23), the world can be broken down to a mathematical equation. Sitting outside Houston Hall in the late afternoon, he easily switches between scientific jargon and the casual lingo of students as he talks about his time at Penn; emotions about senior year are carefully parsed, meanwhile the scientific process of creating purified crystal can be explained away as “super fucking specific.”
On a cloudy Thursday night in late March, the cozy, domestic interior of the Penn Women’s Center has been transformed into a hub of action. Harley Haas (C '24), the chair of Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention, balances her laptop on her knees as she simultaneously sends out emails and welcomes in another volunteer. Leslie Lytle (E ‘23) yells over the organized chaos, “Has anyone heard from Liz Magill?” Two volunteers sit on the couch sorting through bags of chalk while sharing the run–down of their day. In just one week, these months of planning by the campus–wide organization, ASAP, will leave the living room of Women's Center and culminate as the campus’ largest anti–violence rally—Take Back the Night.
After a hectic week of classes, I’m looking forward to one thing. Windows closed, dorm door locked, and computer brightness all the way down, I open up an incognito tab and navigate to my secret guilty pleasure: Outer Banks.
Adulthood is turning on a podcast. The choice of the monotone voice of NPR over the melodies of Taylor Swift. Tuning into the affairs of the economy instead of dancing to your main character soundtrack. Listening to words of wisdom rather than singing along to those lyrics you know so well.
It’s 6 a.m., still dark and cold outside in the early March gloom, when Temple University third–year Ph.D. student Daniel Carsello leaves his apartment to pick up the UHaul loaded with supplies.
If you take everything else away, I would contend that my defining characteristic is my hair. As a kid, my nickname was broccoli, based solely on the fact my hair resembled a sprouting floret. Coming into the COVID–19 pandemic, I remember a teacher noting that while he struggled to recognize the rest of his students in their masks, he always knew I was approaching because of my signature mane. Everyone’s first compliment was of my curls and their last question was an inquiry into my hair routine—to which I always falsely answered, “I don’t even know,” as if I didn’t spend hours on Sunday pre–conditioning, co–washing, plumping, or whatever other tips I picked up from the endless curly hair influencers I followed.
In the summer of 2016, construction workers stumbled upon a mystery while performing centennial renovations on the historic Thomas Evans building in Penn Dental Medicine. “My phone rang one day that summer, and Elizabeth Ketterlinus, Senior Associate Dean, announced that construction workers had located two boxes in the [Penn Dental Medicine] basement that might be of interest. An hour later, I was perusing their contents,” says Lynn Marsden–Atlass, director of the Arthur Ross Gallery, remembering the start of a nearly decades–long artistic mystery.
What do ECON 0100 and your sex life have in common? It's more than just their complicated statuses.
Growing up, I mainly saw José Altuve through beloved grocery store H–E–B’s commercials. My exposure to baseball was limited to what I saw in passing while my mom or grandpa were watching the game. In the fall, I knew that every time I’d turn on the TV, I’d find a commercial featuring Altuve and Alex Bregman grilling burgers, eating snacks, and having a good time while representing every Texan’s favorite grocery store.
At the age of five, Taryn Flaherty (C ‘25) was already an activist. Of course, she put her own childhood spin on it, adding a tasteful fairytale touch.
If Evelyn Thomson weren't teaching physics at Penn right now, she might have ended up a veterinarian. “I grew up on a farm and could see that [being a vet] would be an interesting career,” says Thomson. As someone whose eyes light up at the mention of quarks, it's surprising to learn that physics wasn’t Thomson’s first calling. But growing up on a farm in Scotland, Thomson didn’t even know that becoming a groundbreaking particle physicist was a possible career choice.
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