Beginning last night with a happy hour event, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is encouraging students across all of Penn’s schools to come build their own Penn graduate student experience.
Throughout the week, GAPSA is hosting GradFest, which has taken place annually since May 2007. Last year, for the first time ever, GradFest expanded from a one-day event to a week-long affair.
“GradFest is our way to officially welcome new and returning students,” said third-year Law student and GAPSA Chair James Wiley. “It is a celebration of graduate student life.”
Second-year Medical student and GAPSA Vice Chair for Professional Students Matthew Colo agreed that there is a lot to celebrate.
“The school has an incredibly diverse graduate and professional student body,” he said. “Mix that with the schools being close together and you get a recipe for success.”
During last night’s GradFest kick-off happy hour, students were given a colored bracelet — with each color representing one of Penn’s graduate schools. In order to get a drink, students had to come to the bar with someone wearing a different colored bracelet.
Today’s festivities will begin with a reception for this year’s six student winners of the Interdisciplinary Awards, which are jointly funded by GAPSA and the Provost’s Office. The $6,000 awards recognize research proposals that span multiple disciplines, and embody “what we like most about being at Penn for graduate school,” said fourth-year Biomedical doctoral student and GAPSA Vice Chair Vera Mucaj. “We’re very proud of it.”
Later in the afternoon, Penn professors from various schools will give talks at an event called “Big Ideas @ GradFest,” which was modeled after the popular Technology, Entertainment and Design speaker series.
Thursday will mark the return of last year’s popular Student Activities Fair, during which students will have a chance to learn about many of Penn’s graduate student clubs and cultural groups, as well as various campus resources. More than 60 different groups have registered for the fair so far, Mucaj said.
On Friday night, GradFest Gala will bring students together for one final night of partying together as a community.
“At its core, GradFest is about having fun and being exposed to new people and ideas,” Colo said.
The line-up of planned activities will come to an end on Saturday with the Taste of Philly Closing Party, which will offer activities like quizzo and a picnic featuring Philadelphia-themed food.
“We brought a weekend event back this year in order to cater to the interests of students with families as well as night students,” Wiley said.
Colo added that this year’s GradFest logo — a modified version of the instantly recognizable LEGO logo — fits in well with the overall theme of the week.
“The LEGO brick fits perfectly with the idea of building a Penn graduate experience,” he said. “We’re all ‘building’ ourselves.”