Honor Bound Spring/Summer 2019

Page 1



A new home for the Honors College

O ne non-traditional student’s journey to fellowships recipient

E ducating children about mental health


From the Dean

Dear Friends of Pennoni Honors College, With the help of a $5 million gift from Greg S. Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, and his wife Caroline, Drexel University will create a new center for excellence on campus. This generous gift will help us take the Pennoni Honors College — and Drexel education, more generally — to the next level. Calhoun Hall, a former student residence hall, is being renovated and expanded into Greg and Caroline Bentley Hall, a complex that will house a true living-learning community for Pennoni Honors College students. (Read about Greg and Caroline’s own honors experiences on page 16.) In addition to the renovated student residence, Bentley Hall will include a new, two-story glass and stone addition of about 10,800 square feet that will house Honors College offices, seminar rooms, and meeting and collaborative spaces. Bentley Hall will be home to the Honors College’s five units: the Honors Program, Office of Undergraduate Research, Center for Scholar Development, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, and Marketing & Media. In addition, it will be the site of a new Center for Civil Discourse, an initiative intended to encourage civil interaction and dialogue in today’s fraught political environment. The Center will build on the College’s popular Pennoni Panels, which have developed a reputation within and beyond Drexel for bringing together experts and activists to address controversial topics from a variety of perspectives. We see Bentley Hall as an opportunity to create a vibrant intellectual oasis on campus — to bring a range of enrichment opportunities under one roof and make them available to students from across the University. This is an exciting time for Pennoni. I hope you will support us as we move forward in our new home.

Photo: A rendering of Bentley Hall’s horseshoe-shaped lobby.

Paula Marantz Cohen Dean, Pennoni Honors College Distinguished Professor of English 215.895.1266 • cohenpm@drexel.edu 1

Dean Cohen in her office

CONTENTS Spring/Summer 2019


In Brief



Calm in the Classroom BY JULIA WISNIEWSKI


Leather Chairs, Popcorn, and the Honors College Experience BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER

Consider This: Hijabs and Hospitals Can Co-exist BY SIMAL ALI


Pet Project




Dean: Dr. Paula Marantz Cohen PHC Magazine is published biannually by the Marketing

Editorial Staff

& Media team of Drexel University’s

Editor: Erica Levi Zelinger

Pennoni Honors College.

Copy Editor: Dr. Melinda Lewis Designer: Diane Pizzuto

Comments? Contact us at pennoni@drexel.edu

Administration Director, Administration & Finance: Ann Alexander Executive Assistant to the Dean: Karen Sams

Honors Program Associate Dean, Director: Dr. Daniel Dougherty Associate Director: Dr. Katie Barak Assistant Director: Eric Kennedy


Program Coordinator: Julia Wisniewski




Not Your GardenVariety Student


Taking a Page from Her Own Book BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER




Office of Undergraduate Research Associate Dean, Director: Dr. Suzanne Rocheleau Associate Director: Jaya Mohan Program Manager: Emily Kashka Program Coordinator: Roxane Lovell

Center for Scholar Development Director: Leah Gates Associate Director: Kelly Weissberger Program Coordinator: Martha Meiers Fellowships Coordinator: Emily Coyle

Alumni News


Marketing & Media

You can make a difference! When you make a gift to the Pennoni Honors College, you support the tradition of an interdisciplinary education. Every gift counts. To learn more about how you can support the Honors College, contact:

Director: Erica Levi Zelinger

Susan Baren-Pearson

Associate Director: Dr. Melinda Lewis


Assistant Director: Brian Kantorek


Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry Director: Dr. Kevin Egan Associate Director: Ana Castillo-Nye Pennoni Faculty Fellows: Dr. Joseph Hancock Visiting Fellow: Dr. Jennifer Ayres



Senior Byshera Williams represents Pennoni Honors College to the fullest BY BRIAN KANTOREK


enior English major and Honors Program member Byshera Williams is a cultural critic in the making. For a recent appearance on the podcast Pop, the Question, Byshera discussed the representation of

marginalized communities in film with host Dr. Melinda Lewis. “No representation is bad representation as far as seeing people of color winning [awards],” she asserts in response to gradual progress achieved by Hollywood’s historically underrepresented populations. The conversation went on record as one of an informal series the two colleagues have enjoyed over Byshera’s time with The Smart Set, a digital arts and culture journal (Lewis is managing editor). Byshera joined the online publication as an assistant editor co-op in 2016, and now is an associate editor alongside Lewis. Byshera has contributed her own

“No representation is bad representation as far as people of color winning [awards].” – BYSHERA WILLIAMS ON POP, THE QUESTION summer editorial internship at Bust magazine in New York, where she further grew her writing portfolio. With eclectic interests in cultural studies, film, theater, music, and literature, Byshera keeps an open mind for career opportunities ahead. “I already have the work experience I need,” she notes, recognizing her strengths as a fledgling writer, editor, creator, and cultural critic. Now, it’s just a matter of writing her next chapter.

original content to The Smart Set, including an analysis of the 2017 film Get Out plus interviews with author/advertising mogul Valerie Graves, and Blindspotting actor/screenwriter Rafael Casal. From there, Byshera landed a 2018 4

Listen to Byshera’s Pop, the Question episode here: bit.ly/2UucXSY



he Drexel InterView recently released its latest season

selection for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times book

premiere, which appears in an abbreviated form on

club, “Now Read This.”

the program’s YouTube channel. The episode features guest Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, nonfiction author of

Jauhar became fast friends with Dean Paula Marantz Cohen during his visit to Philadelphia for The Drexel

Heart: A History (2018), contributing medical writer for The

InterView, and has since accepted an invitation to return

New York Times, and practicing cardiologist.

to Pennoni again later this year as keynote speaker for the

Jauhar is also the author of previous bestsellers Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician (2014) and Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation (2007). However, it is

2019 Custom-Designed Major commencement. To take a sneak peek at Dr. Sandeep Jauhar’s interview with Dean Cohen, visit The Drexel InterView YouTube channel.

his latest work Heart: A History (2018) that has garnered an array of positive reviews from major media outlets including The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post, in addition to being the January 2019

Watch the episode at youtu.be/Wyn9AVJxHvg

Of 96 High School Scholars,


students matriculated to Drexel. Three are current Pennoni STAR Scholars.



Pennoni Panels + The Drexel InterView = memorable civil discourse at The Rosenbach BY BRIAN KANTOREK

T 6

he Rosenbach — a Center City Philadelphia

Jonathan Zimmerman; and arts activist and founder of

special collections museum and library,

Mural Arts Philadelphia Jane Golden.

featuring rare manuscripts, book editions, and other cultural artifacts — hosted a first for the

The partnership between Pennoni Panels and The Rosenbach grew out of an existing relationship between

Pennoni Panels series in February 2019: an off-campus

The Drexel InterView and the Author Events series of the

live event recorded for an upcoming episode of The

Free Library of Philadelphia, the institution now overseeing

Drexel InterView to be broadcast through national PBS

The Rosenbach’s operations and collections. The event

affiliates later this year. Dean Paula Marantz Cohen

also ushered in The Drexel InterView’s transition to a

moderated the panel titled, “The Justice of Memory:

new television series focused on civil discourse around

Evaluating Monuments in a Changing Culture,” which

controversial, hot-button topics. Later in 2019, The Drexel

included a candid discussion with three renowned

InterView will continue production as The Civil Discourse

Philadelphians: writer and social activist Lorene Cary;

to carry on its longstanding interview tradition with a

writer and Penn Graduate School of Education professor

revamped and multi-perspective approach to cultural affairs.

2019 FELLOWSHIPS REPORT Drexel students qualified for the following awards in Spring 2019:

These numbers represent:

N ational Science Foundation


different students from 7 different colleges/schools:

Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) (2019) 8 Recipients, 4 Honorable Mentions F ulbright U.S. Student Program (2019-20)

COAS: 14

6 Finalists, 1 Alternate,

COE: 7

2 Semi-finalists

School of Biomedical Engineering,

G ilman International Scholarship

Science, and Health Systems: 3

(Spring 2019)

School of Public Health: 2

4 Recipients

LeBow: 2

G lobal E3 Graduate International

CCI: 1

Research Experience (GIRE)


(2019-20) 1 Recipient, 1 Alternate G oldwater Scholarship (2019-20) 2 Recipients T hinkSwiss (2019) 1 Recipient D AAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering Professional (RISE Pro) (2019) 1 Recipient C ritical Language Scholarship (2019) 1 Alternate U dall Undergraduate Scholarship (2019)

18 15 10 from

traveling to

different majors

different countries

Honors Program students

6 current + 6 alumni

1 Honorable Mention



eceiving the fellowship or award is the goal of most applicants, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only

“Applying for a Fulbright was a process that

takeaway from the fellowships application process.

opened new doors for me just by having conver-

Many applicants say they reap rewards far more

sations.  I was able to practice explaining my

important than the fellowship itself. Shayna Singh, BS biological sciences ’19, honors, didn’t receive the 2018-19

research interests and career goals to profes-

Fulbright grant to Denmark she had hoped for, but she’s still

sionals that I look up to in a field that I am still

happy she applied. The Fulbright application process not only helped her prepare for graduate school applications, but it also

planning to join. In the end, this process taught

incentivized her to make connections at Drexel University’s

me how valuable those connections are as I now

College of Medicine when she was seeking faculty support. Her networking is proving to be even more valuable now, as Shayna has made direct connections in DUCOM’s neuroscience PhD program for which she is now applying.

aim for PhD programs in neuroscience.” —Shayna Singh, biological sciences ’19, Honors 7



t is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dave Jones in October 2018. The former Dean of the Pennoni Honors College was a gifted filmmaker, brilliant scholar, inspiring teacher, versatile leader, and loyal

advocate for excellence

colleague. He was a talented, if sometimes critical, mind — a philosopher

in education. He helped

and skeptic of the highest order, and an inspiration to countless students. Dave joined the Drexel faculty as an associate film professor in 1978 and held a number of leadership positions, including Dean of the Pennoni Honors College from 2008-2014, head of the Media Arts Department from 1996-2000 and the

mentor numerous students and faculty and worked

Cinema & Television Department from 2006-2007 in the Westphal College of

to clarify and unify the

Media Arts & Design. Dave also served as the interim head of the Department

structure of the Pennoni

of Humanities-Communications in what was then known as the College of Humanities and Social Sciences from 1985-1987.


Dave was a fierce

Honors College.

PENNONI PERFECTION Achievements around the Honors College STAR STUDENTS

“Jaya has taken a leadership role, not only in creating and Every year, Drexel recognizes 12 students for their impact on student life. This year, Sarah Malik, business and engineering ’20, received the Charles E. Etting Scholarship Award and the Anthony & Antoinette

T. Caneris Award. Sarah was the only student this year to receive two Drexel Student Life awards for her impact on

implementing programming programs that have enhanced STAR and High School Scholars, but in on-boarding and mentoring two individuals who have, themselves, become integral members of the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Pennoni Honors College,” wrote Dean Paula Marantz Cohen in her nomination.


campus. The active Honors College student is an Office of

Dr. Lloyd Ackert was honored

Undergraduate Research Leader and president of Drexel’s

for his wide-ranging, original, and

French club, sponsored by Pennoni Honors College.

insightful contributions to Pennoni Honors College. The history

As part of the work she did during

teaching professor and Honors

her 2018 summer as a STAR Scholar,

Program instructor is the recipient of

Caichen (Karol) Zhong was second

the Pioneering Partner award from

author on an article published in

the American College Personnel Association's Commission

Health Marketing Quarterly, a

for Academic Affairs.

peer-reviewed journal, about the

The breadth and depth of his service to students and

attributes used in hospital services’ advertisements in a

colleagues within Pennoni have made him an invaluable

metropolitan newspaper’s Sunday health section. Her faculty

asset, says Dean Paula Marantz Cohen.

mentor, Stephen Gambescia, clinical professor of health

“Dr. Ackert is always game to give time and expertise

services administration in the College of Nursing and Health

when asked, and to volunteer when he thinks he can

Professions, says he was glad they got this project for her.

contribute. What a terrific model of what cross-disci-

“Wow — credit to her as she did this the summer after her

plinary, cross-College work in the University should look

freshman year as a health admin student,” Gambescia says.

like at its best!



Jaya Mohan, associate director of the

Pennoni Honors College advisory

Office of Undergraduate Research

board member Roberta “Bobbi”

was selected to receive the M.A.D.

Liebenberg was named one of

(Mentoring & Development) award

the Philadelphia Inquirer’s 2019

on behalf of the American College

Influencers of Law. As a leading

Personnel Association’s Commission for Academic Affairs. This award recognizes a faculty member or practicing

antitrust attorney at Fine, Kaplan and Black, R.P.C., Liebenberg defends large corporations

professional who has blazed trails in academic affairs-re-

in antitrust cases and served as lead counsel for the largest

lated work and tremendously influenced their institutions

pending antitrust class action in the country regarding

through dynamic leadership and service.

price fixing of generic drugs.


Consider This

HOSPTIALS AND HIJABS CAN COEXIST After being told her “headgear” wasn’t sterile, one pre-med student designed a medical hijab BY SIMAL ALI, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES ’19, HONORS

On the first day I shadowed vascular surgeon Dr. Danielle Pineda at AbingtonJefferson Health in 2017, I was faced with a challenge that later inspired me to pursue an entrepreneurial business venture in an effort to change the future of medicine for women on a global scale. From the viewing room of the operation theater, I was in awe of Dr. Pineda’s graceful technique as she performed one flawless procedure after another. Her synchronicity with her team of nurses and residents was impressive; her elegant and effortless methods ensured a learning experience for everyone involved. While admiring the team’s efforts from afar, my trance was interrupted when the director of the operating floor approached and informed me that I would need to leave because the fabric of my “headgear” — in reference to my hijab — was not considered sterile and did not comply with the department protocol for patient safety. Not once had I ever felt more taken aback and unwelcome. I have been wearing a hijab for more than seven years now and when I started, I realized this would make me a walking, talking billboard for Islam. But that is exactly what I wanted: a chance to be visibly Muslim. By wearing this extra piece of fabric on my head, I know I carry the responsibility of representing an entire religion each day and it encourages me to always put my best self out there. In the most distilled definition, the hijab is a form of modesty, but modesty


encompasses so much more than just the clothes we wear on our bodies. Instead, the hijab is a constant reminder to be modest in the way you carry yourself, the words you speak to and about others, and in the way you treat

the day, I felt somewhat embarrassed as I received confused

others. I originally started to wear the hijab so I could

glances while walking around the hospital with beard

open the eyes of my densely non-Muslim community to

covers on my head.

a religion that is nothing like the misconstrued vision

After that day I spent some time reflecting on the

that many people have. I wanted to illuminate the beauty

experience and decided to research if there were

of Islam to other people through my own actions by

better coverage options at other hospitals or even in

showing them that my religion is really based on teaching

other countries that allow hijab-wearing women to

kindness, generosity, and respect.

simultaneously practice their faith and medical profession

Ever since high school I have spent countless hours

without having to compromise. More often than not,

volunteering with patients in nursing homes, doctors’

Muslim women who practice medicine regularly have to

offices, hospitals, or even while conducting assessments

remove their headscarves. I decided I wanted to provide

for research trials. Through my experiences, I’ve had the

women who wear hijabs, or those who are inconvenienced

opportunity to learn the importance of hospital protocols

with the lack of modest medical attire, to work in the

in order to ensure patient safety. When I was informed

medical field and adhere to medical attire policy without

about the department’s concern regarding my hijab, I knew

having to create temporary covers by using combinations of

how important it was to follow the hospital’s obligatory

nonspecific medical coverings such as beard covers.

precautions. Since the doctor I was shadowing at the

I proposed the idea of creating a medical hijab.

time was still in the middle of surgery, I thought it would

I hadn’t planned to design a product in the middle of

be rude to leave without properly thanking her for the

my undergraduate studies, but when the opportunity

experience so I asked the director if there was anything I

presented itself I began working with an old friend from

could do in order to follow the protocol and be able to stay

high school to turn the idea into a reality. After extensive

for the rest of the day.

market research, consumer interviewers, and design

When the response to my question was a look of confusion,

feedback we still have plenty of work to do before this

I questioned what Muslim women before me have done

product makes it to the market. But we’re well on our

in order to comply with the rules and regulations, ensure

way! Not only have we drafted a partnership agreement,

patient safety of the medical center, and comply with our

mission statement, business timetable, and prototype,

religious principle of modesty. I was informed that other

but we’ve also purchased a number of website domains —

women often remove their hijabs or opt to just wear a scrub

medicalhijab.com, hijabmd.com, medhijabs.com,

cap instead.

medicalhijabs.com — to use once we are able to

I momentarily contemplated removing my head scarf.

manufacture our product. I’m also taking the “Launch

But I paused in dismay and questioned if the department

It! Early Stage” course through the Close School of

had any alternative cap options, ideally something with

Entrepreneurship to continue working on my project with

more coverage than the scrub cap.

the help of startup mentors.

With a patient on the operating table, medicated, and

According to the Islamic Medical Association of North

ready to have their carotid artery stent placed, I got creative

America, there are about 50,000 Muslim physicians in

and used two beard covers to temporarily serve as a sterile

the United States — and yet there is no medical hijab

hijab in an effort to resume the shadowing experience for

compliant with the rules and regulations of the American

which I had networked extensively to secure.

Medical Association. Religious fulfillments and career

When I came out of the changing area with the beard

requirements should not have to compete. Muslim women

covers strategically tied around my head to prevent my

around the world should have the opportunity to pursue

headscarf from being exposed, the director was thrilled!

careers in medicine and not have to compromise their

She informed me that from now on she would suggest to

religious observances.

other hijab wearers to use this covering method rather than requiring them to remover their headscarves altogether. Although I was able to return to shadowing for the rest of




Paint brushes in hand, Honors Program students and staff quietly arranged themselves around the seminar room as they created ink blots, lines, and brush strokes. With no noise except the heat from the air ducts buzzing, the hush was far from the typical chattering sounds that occur during a TED Talk lunch or creditplanning workshop. This was a painted mediation class: one component of a new Honors Program initiative to provide safe spaces for students seeking meaningful self-care time and a break from their daily stressors of tests, assignments, extracurriculars, and the many responsibilities of college life. To Jui Hanamshet, computer engineering ’21, the chance to try painted meditation was a wonderful opportunity. “The idea of painting and meditating seemed really interesting,” Jui says. “I usually find meditating by itself very hard because I can’t focus on it, but to perform a mindless activity while meditating seemed nice.” Jui was not alone in her interest in meditation: The development of these initiatives stemmed from a survey of students; respondents expressed a desire to incorporate additional programming that allows students to step back from their busy work days, reflect, and be present. Dr. Katie Barak, associate director of the Honors Program, sums up the need for this type of programming for high-achieving students. “After volunteering with students at non-profits around Philadelphia with our Feel Good Friday initiative, we realized the feeling that doing service generates connectivity and contribution with the community, a higher


sense of self-worth, and an overall lightness,” Barak says. “This was something we wanted to bring into our weekly programming. The feelings associated with practicing self-care, mindfulness, and meditation are distinct but related.” Led by Haley Dervinis, associate director of undergraduate advising in the College of Engineering, the first mindfulness workshop in the series, “Thankfulness and Pie,” explored the idea of practicing kindness by writing thank you notes. Not only was there strong attendance, but the room was full of new faces. “I asked students if pie was their motivation for attending or if they would like to see more programming focused on mindfulness,” says Barak, “and they enthusiastically requested more programming.” Other programs within the mindfulness initiative included “Silence and Breath: Guided Mediation,” “Expressing Gratitude” and “Mediation as a Productivity Tool.” Individually, these programs highlight the necessity to not only participate in self-care, but to be present within each moment. The programs also encourage attendees to withhold judgement of oneself or others, and to not place value on any one feeling or emotion. The worth of these activities? Well, the proof is in the pudding (or shall we say, paint). Jui eloquently sums up the painted meditation experience and her own takeaways from the program: “When performing a task, it’s not necessary to have the pressure for it to be an A+ piece. It’s perfectly okay to do something for your own joy and happiness than to do it competitively.” As for future mindfulness and self-care practices, the Honors Program will continue to incorporate such activities and events into the schedule. “From personal experience, I know that scheduling self-care or meditation often takes a backseat to homework, my to-do list, or everything else I prioritize over myself,” says Barak. “Worse than that, it can become a point of stress or anxiety because it’s something I should be doing but am not. I see this kind of programming as another way to serve the students: build out time, space, and support for self-work.” At the end of winter term, Drexel’s therapy dogs, Essie and Chai, paid Honors students some much-needed canine face-time. Stay tuned for continued events incorporating meditation, mindfulness, and self-care. In the meantime, don’t forget to be present, mindful, and to always take time to breathe.


PET PROJECT In this dog-eat-dog world, Hannah Sayer just wants to make an app that makes people smile BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER

Junior Hannah Sayer is passionate about pooches. She keeps a running list of all the canines she’s come into contact with. When the interactive digital media student pitched an app in a class of hers to track these happy interactions, she was rather upset that her professor rejected the idea for its narrow appeal. Feisty and determined, Hannah started working like a dog to create it anyway. Hannah shared her tale about DogGo — the working title of her app — with a group of Honors students at a lunchtime TED Talk event about the power of ideas. Encouraged by her fellow students and by Honors Program staff Dr. Katie Barak and Julia Wisniewski, Hannah is applying the skills she’s learning in other classes to work on this pet project. “I’ve had a need for this for a while,” Hannah, who hails from Long Island, explains. “I keep a running list of the dog breeds I’ve met — ­ and the ones I want to meet. I try to store the memory away because it is such a happy experience for me and I want a way to look back on it.” Starting with just for four dog breeds — Beagle, Collie, Golden Retriever, and the Havanese (using her family dog Phineas, of course!), Hannah designed a bare bones demo version of the app. A user can learn about a dog breed (Hannah is programmatically pulling information from the American Kennel Club website), look at additional images of the breed, check off having met a dog of that breed and can even make notes: “I met Sparky on Chestnut Street and he nuzzled right between my legs.” Eventually, Hannah wants to offer the ability for the user to upload a photo. “Hannah shared her idea with a room full of people who went berserk,” says Dr. Barak. “While we may not be experts in the field, we were all smitten with an app that would a) reflect content we like in our feeds, b) justify meeting the dogs


we encounter every day, and c) possibly create different points of connection in our community.” Barak adds, “This is such a perfect example of what we love most about lunchtime events in the Honors Program; a room full of people with different backgrounds and experiences coming together to talk. Learning and connection doesn’t happen in a vacuum and neither do audiences. All of us want to be part of DogGo beta testing!” Each time she takes a new class ­— coding for websites, coding for the Apple app store — Hannah makes necessary changes to the structure and functionality. When she came across the Can I Pet Your Dog podcast and joined the Facebook group, Hannah posted and asked people to submit photos of their dogs they’d be willing to let her use for her app. Two hundred people sent her images covering more than 100 breeds. “I realized if people wouldn’t support this, I would have to do this myself. The main appeal is cuteness and animals. Some people just don’t understand how big a market there is for something like this. I’m so motivated to do the extra work on it.” Hannah hopes to find a team to continue working on this for her senior project. Her intention is to create a free app because she just wants people to have access. “I’m frustrated at the way technology and apps and games and digital media are marketed,” Hannah says. “I think there is such a big market for people who just want happy things. I want an app with good functionality but I want to keep a charm and a cuteness. You can work in a sophisticated way and still keep the smiles.”



The benefactors of the Pennoni Honors College’s new residence hall and offices share memories and tips from their own honors experiences. BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER


or Greg Bentley, the oldest of six children growing

draw from their experience to give advice to Pennoni

up in Wilmington, Delaware, the university

Honors College students.

world was all new. On the eve of the day he was supposed to start his college career at University of Pennsylvania as a Wharton undergrad, his

parents were at a cousin’s wedding. A friend said he was

Caroline: “I only heard about the honors program by

making the drive up to Philly and Bentley took what he

accident,” joked Caroline, who traveled by train each

could shove into his friend’s trunk and went along. The

morning from Northeast Philadelphia to Temple University.

next day he started classes at Penn as a Benjamin Franklin

“I went to a small Catholic elementary school and high

Scholar and a member of the general honors program.

school. I was in the more academic group. I always loved

His introduction to college may have been abrupt, but

school. I loved reading. I was the geek who always raised

Greg, the CEO of software development company Bentley

my hand in the classroom. That doesn’t make you the most

Systems and chairman of Pennoni Honors College’s advisory

popular kid in the classroom.”

board, fondly remembers his Honors experience as one of the most influential aspects of his college career. Greg’s wife, Caroline, also attributes her honors experience

Caroline was belatedly able to take the honors qualifying test during orientation. And she passed. “It was the recognition I needed to have for my academic

at Temple University for providing the academic recognition

achievement and my abilities — I felt more comfortable and

and confidence she needed to flourish as a college student.

confident. I thought, ‘I can compete. I’ll be fine’. I wasn’t

That is part of the reason why Greg and Caroline have

just a face in the crowd at a very large school. The honors

generously gifted $5 million to establish Gregory &

program prevented me from getting lost. I had peers who

Caroline Bentley Hall, a true living-learning community for

had the same passion for learning that I did. I don’t think

Honors College students at Drexel University.

my academic career would have been the same. It was more

As we embark on the renovation of the existing


What did the Honors experience mean to you?

than just a feather in my cap; it helped me succeed.”

Calhoun Hall, Greg and Caroline reflect on studying in

Greg: “That was in the mid-1970s. 1973. I was admitted to

beloved library carrels and pulling all-nighters. They

University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar

A rendering of the Bentley Hall lobby that includes the existing Calhoun Hall and a two-story glass and stone addition that will house College offices and seminar rooms.

and I was invited to the general honors program. Then

have my choice. All freshman men in the “quad” lived

I learned that most students at Wharton, the business

together — it might have been great for male bonding but

school, didn’t take advantage of general honors even if it

was not great for studying or sleeping. I had to leave my

was offered them. But my view toward college was that

dorm if I wanted peace and quiet to study. With Bentley

the university was there to serve me and not the other

Hall, it’s great to imagine that the Honors students will

way around. So I determined to take fullest advantage of

have access to a living and learning community where

my undergraduate years, including the most challenging

others have also made the same choice.

liberal arts classes. Taking Honors courses reinforced that

I was indeed a motivated and busy scholar while in my

I could choose the best of the professors — top profs at the

university years and I can recall packing my bag on a

university were invited to teach Honors and they wanted to

weekend and searching across Penn to find the library where

do that for sake of the smaller classes and to teach the most

there was the most solitude, but also accouterments like

motivated students. I benefited because I never needed to

vending machines so as not to starve. I’d bring with me in

take a lecture class throughout my university career.”

my bag a percolation coffee pot and I would actually perk my own coffee — way before Starbucks — so I could have coffee

What was your ideal study space? Caroline: “I didn’t have one. I spent the first two years

into the night. So my ideal study spot was one which had seclusion and

commuting. I studied on the train. Graduate school was a

a carrel where you could plug in a coffee pot. I never drank

completely different experience for me. I signed up for my

coffee again after college!”

own study carrel!” read — it just puts you more in the mood for studying.

What kinds of snacks would you like if you were writing a difficult paper?

Those chrome chairs … they are so ‘airport waiting room’.

Caroline:“Pizza. We thought pizza was healthy back then.

You need a kind of coziness and character.”

If you had pepperoni and peppers, you were covering all

Greg: “While I had lots of choices about courses, and the

the food groups.”

best professors to take — as to living arrangements, I didn’t

Greg: “Popcorn” [and the aforementioned coffee].

Her suggestion? “Curl up in a leather chair and sit and


Did you ever pull an all-nighter? Caroline: “Did I pull all-nighters? Too many.” Greg: “Yes, I pulled all-nighters. I wrote a lot of papers and took pride in them. There is no better way to learn — organizing your thoughts on paper (then) and producing a deliverable like that. I think I can say I have never worked so hard as I did in my university days. Those all-nighters prepared me well to deal with what it means to cope in the world and to take full advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Ambition can’t wait!”

Any suggestions about how we can get students to relax and enjoy some free time away from studying?

From top: An exterior rendering of Bentley Hall, which will comprise what is currently Calhoun Hall residences; a new addition that will include a collaborative workspace outside staff offices.

Caroline: “Go outdoors. Just the sunshine helps you there. And that it’s OK to leave everything behind for a

Any anecdotes about your college experience that you would like to share?

little while. Check out the First Unitarian Church [at 2125

Caroline: “I was in grad school at University of Chicago.

Chestnut St.] for concerts. Eat out during Philadelphia

It was during the Age of Aquarius and marches protesting

Restaurant Week. Look for free events.”

the war. It was colorful and tumultuous. And I partic-

Greg: “The advantage that students at Drexel — and

ipated in one protest: a march to the administrative

those living in Bentley Hall — will have is being in a

building when they wanted to shorten the hours that the

vibrant part of the city; they’ve made that choice among

library was open!”

colleges. They’ve chosen not to be secluded somewhere

Greg: “What I remember most about college was that it

but rather at a crossroads of people and life choices and

provided a compass for what I wanted to accomplish and

an interesting environment.

master. I took note of the best role models on campus and

gain perspective and reminds you that there’s a world out

Drexel students are fortunate to have the city all around


was motivated to learn. I feel a kindred spirit with Drexel’s

them. Get out and take a walk. In my day, we explored

Pennoni Honors College students. Instead of settling to do

Philadelphia. We’d wind up downtown at a table tennis club.”

the least — they are striving to do the most!”

BOSS VELADIES The Office of Undergraduate Research sponsors a fellowship to bolster female students in science BY DR MELINDA LEWIS



rances Velay was a multifaceted woman. Born in France, Velay moved to the United States and graduated from New York University with a chemistry degree in 1947 before she moved south

and made Philadelphia her adopted home. While living in the city, she invested her time and money to projects that supported education, the arts, and human rights. Her investment also extended to supporting women working in the hard sciences. Before her death in 2007, Velay worked with her foundations, Panaphil and Uphill, to develop a fellowship dedicated to supporting women leaders in the fields of science. Beginning in 2015, The Frances Velay Women’s Science

“We were really enthusiastic to have an opportunity to build a program to support young female scientists in a variety of ways.”

Research Fellowship expanded across Philadelphia and its surrounding communities’ institutions including Bryn Mawr, Haverford, University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore, Temple, and Drexel. When the then-senior associate vice president of Foundation and Corporate Relations at Drexel, began to reach out to possible partners for the program, Pennoni’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), the ExCITe Center, and Center for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning Excellence (CASTLE) were obvious choices with each focusing on research, innovation, and academic support. OUR’s associate director Jaya Mohan and CASTLE’s Dr. Jennifer Stanford were excited to be

on the ground level of developing the program: “[We] were really enthusiastic to have an opportunity to build a program to support young female scientists in a variety of ways,” says Stanford. For them, the program they wanted to design would provide research experience, but also carve space to reflect, discuss, find mentors, and inevitably define themselves as scientists. Currently, the program is run by Mohan and Stanford (Lindstrom left Drexel prior to the program’s official launch). The two departments are perfect complements to each other and an ideal pairing to support the fellowship’s goal. OUR’s STAR Scholars Program already provides a summer research opportunity to students from various fields and different research interests while CASTLE attempts to address change at an institutional level, finding innovative ways to teach STEM and foster experiential learning opportunities. “We know from the literature and from our own work that research experiences are beneficial to all students regardless of their career interests, or field of study,” states Stanford. “We also know from the literature that fewer women than men are graduating with STEM undergraduate degrees, and that underrepresented minority students are less likely to be retained in STEM majors.” The program, as they designed it, offers a support network that bolsters these women’s work, providing ample


space and opportunity to explore their fields of choice in more depth and build the necessary skills and foundation to thrive in the scientific marketplace. Applicants to the STAR Scholars program are asked if they would be interested in being a Velay fellow, and, if so, provide a short explanation as to the extent of their interest. From there, accepted STAR students’ applications are read by Mohan and Stanford who build the year’s cohort of “Veladies.” Throughout the summer, Velay scholars are provided supplemental programming with mentorship events where students can interact with female faculty, graduate students, and practitioners already working in STEM fields. Also anchoring the program is a book club, where they read and discuss the experiences of women like Hope Jahren, whose Lab Girl provides insight into the scientist’s life and work as a geobiologist and geochemist, and Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson who were profiled in Hidden Figures. These books not only provided insight, but perspective to a history of women in science rarely touched upon in history or science classes. Stanford elaborates that these elements of programming “provide students the opportunity to discuss unique challenges that they perceive to exist for women in STEM, and receive feedback and suggestions about those those challenges. This provides these students with further agency and confidence to succeed in their field of interest.” And that element of commiseration and feedback has represented some of the most potent experiences from representatives of the program. “I’d say the highlight of the project was actually a bittersweet moment — when I realized that academia didn’t feel quite right … through

echoes the sentiment, “Once a week really made us talk about day-to-day life, the little things … they put us all in a room and encouraged us to share our experiences and create a sense of transparency between us all, which is something I do now, see what others are doing and see how I can do better.” As with any initiative, there have been adjustments to ensure students are gaining from the experience and that the goals of the foundation are being met. And it appears as if Drexel’s Veladies have checked all their boxes. The funding for the program started in 2015 was only slotted to support the program for three years, but Drexel’s program just had their funding renewed through 2022.

discussions with my Velay Fellows and the various mentors we met over the course of the term, I made peace with my return to engineering as I originally planned,” notes Kaya Gentile, a Velay Fellow from the class of 2016. “I’m glad I learned that quite early, and thanks to the candid Velay discussions, without much soul-searching difficulty.” With Drexel’s fast-paced environment and co-op program, it can be difficult for students to make the time themselves to sit and reflect, which is why programs like Velay can have such a dramatic impact on students, as well as help direct students toward becoming the time of scholars and leaders they wish to become. Rebecca Genovese, a biomedical engineering student and a 2017 Velay fellow


words to live by BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER


bloom where you’re planted Valerie Niemann is not afraid to admit the trite sayings she lives by. They are the kind of reminders on the wall of your dentist’s office or when your mother posts them to your Facebook timeline, but Valerie, a modest and


ven as a freshman, the senior chemical engineering student knew to take advantage of Drexel’s research opportunities. Valerie spent the summer after her freshman year

doing STAR and studying the optimization of a 2-D material MXene to help make inexpensive, conductive, transparent films, for applications such as use in smartphone touchscreens. Valerie has always had good soil — her roots blossomed

soft-spoken 23-year-old from Plymouth

in Norristown, where her mother worked as an English as

Meeting, Pennsylvania applies them to her

many friendships in the nearby Mexican-American

a second language (ESL) teacher. Together they formed

already-long catalog of professional and

community, attending a Mexican Catholic church, getting

personal experiences.

Christmastime posadas — ritual reenactments of Mary and

invited to quinceañeras, learning to salsa, and hosting Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. 23

you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take


alerie worked co-ops at Muenster University of Applied

“However, what set her apart as a

Sciences in Germany working on catalysts for the hydrogen

strong candidate for fellowships was

evolution reduction reaction for fuel cell applications and at

her willingness to explore the ‘why’

the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland packaging

behind her decisions.”

high-power semiconductor devices to prevent device overheating. Afterward,

why she valued her work, Coyle adds,

field. She worked with Pennoni’s Center for Scholar Development on an

and how her future research was going

application for the Goldwater Scholarship.

to best serve her and society as a whole.

“It was really difficult and uncomfortable,” Valerie says. “I wasn’t used to

“I started to understand,” Valerie

portraying myself in that way. I wasn’t used to having a life plan that people

says of the application process. “You

would ask me about. I’ve always done things that interested me, but without a

develop a story — a plausible route

broader perspective of where things would take me.”

for your professional goals. You have

Valerie credits the Center staff in helping her draw out her ideas and parts of

to answer the same questions you get

her personality worth mentioning in her application. They asked her hard-hitting

asked professionally again and again.

questions, unearthing a peer-related issue of bullying in her engineering classes.

‘What are you working on? What kind

“When Val first came to our office, she immediately impressed us with her portfolio of research, graduate coursework, and international experience,” says Emily Coyle, fellowships coordinator with the Center for Scholar Development.


She was willing to think hard about

she began seeking fellowships for students pursuing careers in the STEM

of future do you imagine? How is it going to benefit society?’” And like Hockey Hall of Famer

Wayne Gretzky expressed in an interview about taking shots, Valerie aimed for Goldwater. But missed. In the year following, she forged ahead, working to build

Fulbright is as much about the research as it is about increasing a mutual understanding with your host country. In her time in Switzerland, Valerie has discovered and

her confidence, gain more research experience and a better

visited with distant relatives, danced the tango, skied, and

overall understanding of new developments in her field. She

celebrated New Year’s by participating in la descente aux

began tutoring at the Academic Center for Engineers.

flambeaux, a torchlight descent down the slopes.

“I would help kids on their homework. I understood the concepts they wrestled with and knew how to guide them through, since I had recently taken the same courses” she says. “Then I’d watch them develop their own independent problemsolving skills — there were a few ‘proud Mama moments’ where I would

it never hurts to ask

teach someone a technique in solving differential equations and they’d ask, ‘Can I tell my friend how to do it?’” Gretzky’s words followed her on co-op to the San Francisco Bay area where she interned at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, optimizing materials to convert heat into energy, termed thermoelectrics. These materials could be used for flexible, wearable modules that use body heat to power medical devices, for example. The Berkeley co-op connected Valerie to international researchers who traveled to the lab to use its specialized equipment. She attended their individual presentations and collected contacts around the world who might help fulfill her passion for doing research abroad. She sent emails and set-up Skype calls and began filling out a different fellowship application. Two, in fact — this time for the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship and the Fulbright Student Program. She could work on perfecting her German and French. She could design her own research project. She took both shots. And scored. In June 2018, Valerie began working with a connection she made the year before in Berkeley at the Ecole


hat’s the case for a conference she went to in London in February. Her lab usually sends postdoctoral candidates or PhDs, but she’d been working on a corresponding project and asked her advisor if

she could attend. And the answer was yes. She’s hit some other goals while in Europe: She started

Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. She

work on a manuscript for publication, she synthesized a

spent three months on the ThinkSwiss program, synthe-

gamut of nanoparticles (gold, copper, silver, various semicon-

sizing gold nanorods and tailoring their shapes to design

ductor nanocrystals), and she got into graduate school.

catalysts for renewable chemical reactions. Last September,

When Valerie returns to the U.S. in August, she’ll accept

she began her Fulbright in the same lab where her major

funding from the National Science Foundation Graduate

goal is to convert carbon dioxide into usable products like

Research Fellowship she’s been offered and begin her PhD

fuels or plastics, using energy from the sun.

at Stanford University.


Follow the unconventional journey of one non-traditional Honors College student on her path to success BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER


n 2012, when many Drexel juniors were just freshmen in high school, trying out for sports teams and school plays, Sofi Courtney was managing a bike shop in West Philadelphia. In her free time, she planted food and flowers in community gardens, and later worked as the historic house gardener at Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanical garden in the United States. She paddled through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, learning to identify the plants and animals in their unique ecosystem. “I was trying to learn about science from outside of an academic environment,” Sofi says. Like many non-traditional students, Sofi had done the college thing before. She studied sociology and art at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. But at 21, wanting to try a different city on for size, she left school and ventured south from her New England upbringing to Philadelphia where she knew a few people. But to study ecology and conservation the way she wanted, she realized college beckoned her back. And this time around, Sofi knew to take advantage of the resources available to her. A decade later, Sofi used her careers as a bicycle mechanic, gardener at Bartram’s Garden, and a year at Community College of Philadelphia as building blocks for an academic career at Drexel. That is how Sofi, environmental science ’20, became an Honors student, a Drexel Fellowships Ambassador, President of the Drexel Naturalists Association, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Scholar, and an Udall Scholar. The first time she met with the staff of the Center for Scholar Development, Sofi sought funding for an international co-op. That didn’t work out, but they suggested Sofi would be a good candidate for several fellowships that support and encourage careers in oceanic and atmospheric sciences, and the environment and public policy. Sofi pursued her interests in unique ways, building community hubs such as an urban garden in West Philly and a rural land project and educational space in Middle Tennessee, says Kelly Weissberger, interim director of the Center for Scholar Development. “Sofi’s passion for conservation biology and science communication, coupled with her ability to be a leader and community advocate, make her a strong fellowships candidate.” Weissberger says. “Her ability to galvanize

Sophi on study abroad in Szechuan Province, China


Sophi, identifying a snake in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens

dispute in California. The diverse Udall cohort worked on a resolution for water distribution that everyone could agree on — and became the first Udall orienpeople around issues and help them learn from each other is impressive.” Sofi’s demeanor also plays a role; she has a calmness about her, an unruffled nature, and a mature attitude. “I think I am able to articulate goals in a different way,” Sofi says. “Having life experience offers a focus that is

This summer, the focused student will use her NOAA earnings to work in Cape Cod at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Reserve examining the impact of burrowing crabs on marsh health. “Every time I’ve applied for a fellowship, it has made me

different than when you are just out of high school. Having

a better candidate for the next fellowship. Writing these

life experience means I have a lot to put on the application.”

essays has given me the concept of what reviewers are

Just before leaving to study abroad in the Szechuan Province of Western China researching restoration of a

looking for and as a scientist, I will always be involved with writing grants and proposals.”

giant panda habitat, Sofi received word that she’d been

Watson adds, “Sofi has a very different perspective than

selected as both a 2018-19 Udall Scholar and a 2018-20

I on almost everything. I think that working with her has

NOAA Hollings Scholar.

been a learning experience for me, and I have enjoyed

“I was not really aware that she was a non-traditional student when I first hired her, but I think that it made her a more mature co-op employee,” says her Drexel

giving her experiences that help her develop leadership and grow her skills.” Ultimately, Sofi’s plan is to work for the federal

faculty mentor Elizabeth Watson, an assistant professor

government or a conservation nonprofit, but her inter-

of wetlands science and wetlands section leader at the

national experience and relationships with indigenous

Academy of Natural Sciences where Sofi co-oped and still

peoples have also piqued her interest. She’s using Udall

works today. “Sofi is very inquisitive, independent, indefati-

expenses to fund a tropical field study in the Ecuador’s

gable, and a superb naturalist.”

Amazon rainforest. She’s hatching a plan for an

Both programs required her to travel back from China

independent study of indigenous people in China that will

for orientation programs in the United States: to Silver

take her back to the Szechuan Provence during fall term

Spring, Maryland for NOAA and to Tucson during

2019. And she’s already planning to apply next year for

monsoon season where “the desert smells like sage and

Fulbright and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate

incredibly delicious after the rain.” In Tuscon, Sophi

Research Fellowship Program.

participated in an Udall conflict-resolution case study about western U.S. water management policy. Sofi took on the role of the power company in her case study of a water


tation group to come to an agreement.

taking a page

Custom-designed major student Paris Gramann’s children’s empowerment kit educates kids about mental health issues BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER

from her own book


“‘I wonder what will become of me, I would so very much like to see!’ And suddenly an old lady came, crouched, and said,

‘Just be.’”


t is sometimes hard for Paris Gramann to heed her own advice – “Just be.” It is the poignant maxim that flows throughout the children’s book she authored — and the fundamental message she wants children to

comprehend when they hear this book at storytime. The junior custom-designed major (CSDN) in innovative

problem-solving, ’20, pulls from psychology, sociology, philosophy, entrepreneurship, and marketing to look at individual and systemic problems through various lenses and solve difficulties through product design. Paris took a page out of her own book. The 22-year-old from San Diego has admittedly struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts since her teenage years. Her own process in therapy has fueled her passion to offer books and accompanying consumer products that open up the conversation regarding mental health education for children. “I’ve always enjoyed writing,” she says. “It’s always been a hopeful way to understand the emotions that back then I wasn’t able to process.” It started as a joke in her junior year of high school. Paris and a close friend would text each other funny snippets and stories. It was on her iPhone 4 where she auditioned her main character — a sad little apple. The seed for that little red fruit journeyed with her to Drexel, where her interdisciplinary curiosity propelled the resourceful and driven entrepreneurship major to want to understand the human condition better. When she realized she needed to study the start-up world from a holistic sense, for the psychology of introspection, CSDN beckoned her. “We could tell even in the early days when Paris first applied to the program that she was a deeply reflective individual,” says Ana Castillo-Nye, associate director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry. “Many potential


From top: An illustration from Just Be; Paris reading an earlier version of her book to a focus group of parents and children

outlets for her creativity were in the

child’s education,” says Temple student Rebecca Lee, who is

works from the start, but Paris has

working with Paris on a rewrite incorporating coping skills.

always had a deep desire to pursue

“I’m so excited to be working with Paris on Just Be because

a singular project that represented

I think this project can help a lot of children learn about

the different aspects of her academic,

their feelings and how to cope with them!“

personal, and professional aspirations — she excelled at drawing those connections.” To combat the challenging and

Think “What did the apple turn into,” and “What can someone do when they are feeling stuck?” With $15,000 seed money, Paris is having Just Be copyrighted. She’s printed a formal prototype of the

complex issue of mental health in

book and worked on the design of a plush apple toy filled

children, Paris found herself returning

with apple seeds for planting. She has spent the summer

to her sad little apple.

working on packaging design, updating her website, and

She’s written and rewritten Just Be

working out shipping details and marketing.

countless times, struggling alongside

Admittedly, Paris has avoidance tendencies from time to

her apple with loneliness and fear as

time. Her imagination sometimes gets in the way. She gets

well as mindfulness and growth. She’s

overwhelmed. She’s fine working for other people, but now

hit walls at times with her writing,

that it’s her working for herself ­— even employing others to

but she’s also sought out professors

help — it’s intimidating.

for help and younger cousins for focus groups. Even the illustrations from Luigi Manese, whom she met at an art show, became therapeutic. And then this last year, Just Be sprouted into a longer-term vision. Now halfway through the prestigious entrepreneurship co-op at the

“I am so passionate about this though, so in many ways it grounds me. It pulls me back in.” It also pulls others to her. Lauren and friend Monica Kim, graphic design ’19, sum up working with her in the same way. Working with Paris is just the best, it doesn’t even really count as “work”. Collectively, Lauren and Monica describe her as kind and considerate, passionate and diligent, loving and selfless.

Close School of Entrepreneurship’s Baiada Incubator,

“She is just one of those people who make you want to be

she is fleshing out an entire children’s empowerment kit

around them more,” says Lauren.

complete with book, plush toy, and downloadable material for parents and teachers. With her first place winnings from Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship’s idea pitch competition at Drexel Startup Fest 2018, Paris decided to start her own company: Empower Creative Agency LLC. “This book means so much to Paris,” says Lauren LaChant, entrepreneurship ’19, who has helped Paris sew

By the time Paris graduates in 2020, she’ll not only be an author and the owner of an LLC, but she hopes to be on her way to creating a series of books and materials to tackle difficult issues. Eventually the LLC may be a side business to a career as a licensed therapist or perhaps a consultant to others trying to get creative ideas off the ground. But for now, Paris Gramann, Just Be.

the apple plush toy prototypes. “It comes from a place that is quite personal, yet it’s taken a form of something that she will be sharing with the world. Just Be means Paris can help teach children a new kind of lesson and change the way we as a society look at mental health. It’s very powerful for her readers, and for her.” The book will not only be a helpful tool for parents to start talking to their kids about mental health, but would make a great addition to any classroom. “As a future teacher, I’m very passionate about curriculum-building and believe lessons on mental health and emotional regulation should be incorporated into every

For more information, visit justbebooks.com


Alumni News

Ashleigh Jugan, environmental science ’18 and Nick Barber, geoscience ’18 got engaged June 1st in Rittenhouse Square. They were preparing for their big move across the pond, and Nick decided to pile on one more milestone before graduation commenced. After Nick spent a summer doing field work in Montana, they reunited in time to see their loved ones one more time before stepping on the plane to Cambridge. Seven months later, they have both settled happily into life at Cambridge. Nick is busily preparing for his first PhD field season in East Java, Indonesia, and is active in undergraduate geology teaching and post-graduate student affairs at Churchill College. Ashleigh works for the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) in their services group, and in her spare time is co-Green Officer for Churchill College and manages the college gardening society. They still make time to travel, explore the UK, and play with their pet bunny. 

From top: Chantee Steele and Andre Butler; Ashleigh Jugan and Nick Butler; Henry Patrick Mullan

Caitlin Mullan (nee McRae), BS/ MS chemical engineering ’13, works for Ashland LLC as a process safety engineer in Wilmington, Delaware, supporting their plants on a global

scale. Cate married John Mullan in 2016. She gave birth to their son Henry Patrick Mullan in February.  Chantee Steele, accounting and finance, ‘13, got married in July 2018 to Andre Butler. After Drexel, she worked at Deloitte for five years as a consultant, and was promoted to manager right before she left last fall to pursue her MBA Degree at The Wharton School.  Alicia Wieand Del Real, finance ’03, completed her master's degree in organizational dynamics at University of Pennsylvania. She now leads the Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence (AEI) as president, partner, and executive coach. Alicia knows individuals can change the world, sometimes they just need a little help. Alicia focuses on the whole person to help leaders increase both self-awareness and social awareness resulting in meaningful and sustainable growth. She teaches emotional intelligence and lectures at University of Pennsylvania and Lake Forest College. Alicia continues to be grateful for the strong foundation and early leadership opportunities provided by Drexel University.

Spread the News! Please send your alumni announcements to pennoni@drexel.edu and let us know what you’ve been up to. Include your name,

major, graduation year, and share with us your career stories, promotions, marriages, births, etc.

40 Under 40


ach year, 40 inspiring and entrepreneurial alumni are featured in Drexel Magazine’s spring issue. This year’s list included CongressBundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals fellowship recipient Farrah Moldover, materials science engineering ’11 and Mik Schulte, a 2015 custom-designed major in corporate policy and environmental risk management. In addition to developing her German language skills, says Moldover, her “exposure abroad helped prime me to assume a significant role in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world as an engineer.” In the same writeup, Mik, 26, now an operations analyst for The World Bank, says the co-op program and Pennoni’s custom-designed major are easily Drexel’s competitive advantage. “I sell this to employers every time I do an interview — because I'm always asked how I have the work experience I do for being my age,” Mik says. “Drexel accelerated my timeline to be marketable. Universities are places of


learning, but they’re also tasked with preparing us for the next 35 years or so of our career. I have had opportunities that would never have materialized were it not for the combination of on-the-job realities I gained through co-op along with the focused guidance, specialized coursework and support that came from the custom-designed major program.”

Alumna Spotlight Ally Iseman, media arts and design ’06, is an awardwinning actor, writer, and producer. She has appeared in episodes of Criminal Minds, American Housewife, Days of Our Lives, NCIS: Los Angeles, and the film Solver (top right). At the end of 2018, her original musical Edge of Interment – made in two days from concept to completion – took home 3rd place out of hundreds of submissions worldwide at the Producers Guild’s Make Your Mark Week Shorts Competition. Ally’s gender parity comedy series, Flip The Script (top left), was produced with Women In Film and has been featured in Variety, HuffPost, Vulture, Medium and others. Ally also hosts the plant-based food travel adventure show, The Road Less Eaten (left and below, in Ireland). allyiseman.com

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You can make a difference! When you make a gift to the Pennoni Honors College, you support the tradition of an interdisciplinary education. Every gift counts. To learn more about how you can support the Pennoni Honors College, contact: Susan Baren-Pearson 215.571.4907 sb3488@drexel.edu

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