Basic Page Sidebar Menu ISSS
Your Penn life begins at...
Forerunner Global is your virtual introduction to life at Penn.
Hosting over 7,000 international students and scholars from all over the world, Penn is a truly global university. The international student community brings vibrancy and diverse perspectives to the University and it is our mission to ensure that all are welcome and fully supported.
Forerunner Global prepares newly accepted Penn international students and their parents for life as members of the Penn family. Watch the videos below and hear from current Penn students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni about how you can get the most out of your Penn experience and stay safe, healthy, and engaged along the way. Wherever this semester finds you, get a head start on your Penn adventure with Forerunner Global!
If you joined us live, please fill out this survey to let us know what you thought. You are also welcome to fill out the survey after you view the recordings.
- Introduction and Welcome to Penn!
- Navigating the Penn Experience
- Penn Faculty and Staff Panels
- Perspectives from Global Alumni
- Parent Information Session
Welcome to Penn! In this video, high-ranking University of Pennsylvania administrators will welcome you to the Penn family and give you a preview of the many resources available to you as a Penn international student.
In this session, current University of Pennsylvania international students act out some of the scenarios you may encounter at Penn. Administrators in the areas of safety, wellness, academic resources and immigration give their advice and perspectives on how to navigate these challenges.
In this session, you'll hear advice from Penn faculty and staff on how to stay engaged in your coursework - whether you're in Philadelphia or beginning your Penn journey from home - and strategies for success in and out of the classroom.
During this session, a diverse set of alumni from across the globe share their perspectives on the Penn experience and give you invaluable advice on how to make the most of your time at the University.
During this parent information session, you will learn about what Penn is doing to keep your students healthy, safe, and thriving at Penn even under this year's unusual circumstances.
Welcome to Penn! Hear from Penn officials about the state of Penn and learn more about the international student experience. International Student and Scholar Services, a key resource that will help you in areas of both immigration and integration, will provide an overview of the immigration landscape and ways that you can engage with ISSS.
WITH APPEARANCES BY:
- Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions
- Ezekiel Emanuel, Vice Provost for Global Initiatives; Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor; Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine
- Maureen Rush, Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of the Penn Police Department
- Benoit Dubé, Chief Wellness Officer; Associate Provost
- Amy Gadsden, Associate Vice Provost for Global Initiatives
This session features scenarios acted by current Penn international students that can help you with navigating this new stage of your life. Find out what amazing campus resources can help you along your Penn journey.
|Dr. Batsirai ("Batsi") Bvunzawabaya is the associate director for Outreach and Prevention at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Dr. Bvunzawabaya was also a facilitator of the staff Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee and is part of the Intercultural Leadership Program, which received Penn’s 2018 Models of Excellence Award.|
|Dr. Ocek Eke is Director for Global and Local Service Learning Programs at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. He is a mentor to Rebound Liberia, the 2019 President’s Engagement Prize winner, and a 2020 University of Pennsylvania Models of Excellence Award recipient for this very program of Forerunner.|
|Julianne Reynolds, MA is the Associate Director of the Office of Learning Resources and Learning Instructor for International Students at Weingarten Learning Resources Center|
|Ryan Villanueva is Assistant Director of Integration & Community Engagement at ISSS. Ryan oversees the integration initiatives of ISSS, like Forerunner, international student orientation, and the Intercultural Leadership Program. He will soon be completing his master’s degree in Intercultural Communication at Penn’s Graduate School of Education.|
|Paige Wiggington is the Senior Associate Director of Special Services at Penn’s Division of Public Safety. Paige earned her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in crisis response and student support at Penn since 2010.|
|Lily Zhang is the Senior Associate Director of ISSS and oversees the immigration services provided to all international students, scholars, and employees at Penn.|
Penn Faculty Panel
A panel of Penn faculty members offer you a view into the Penn classroom. Things may be a little different with online learning, but faculty members have adapted to continue offering an excellent virtual learning experience. Hear advice from faculty on how to stay engaged in coursework and strategies to be successful.
Advice from Penn Staff
Representatives from Penn provide you with a window into life at Penn and the many opportunities available to you. Learn how to engage within your Penn School and explore the many ways to improve your personal and academic well-being.
|Dr. Chao Guo is Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management, School of Social Policy & Practice, and Associate Faculty Director of Fox Leadership International. Chao is also Editor-in-Chief of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the premier journal in the field.|
|Dr. Michael C. Horowitz is the Director and Richard Perry Professor at Perry World House. He is also the author of The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics, and the co-author of Why Leaders Fight.|
|Dr. Carol Muller is a Professor of Music (ethnomusicology) in the School of Arts and Sciences.|
|Dr. Philip M. Nichols is the Joseph Kolodny Professor of Social Responsibility in Business and a Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at the Wharton School of Business. Professor Nichols is also the Faculty Director of Stouffer College House, where he and his family have lived for more than twenty years.|
|Dr. Swapneel Sheth is the Director/Program Chair of the Master of Science in Engineering in Computer & Information Science (CIS/MSE) Program. His research interests include Computer Science Education, Software Engineering, and Privacy. He is originally from Mumbai, India.|
|Dr. Ann. E. Tiao is the Assistant Dean for Student Services at the Graduate School of Education. She teaches Diversity in Higher Education, the only course required for master’s students in the division, Contemporary Issues in Higher Education, and Building Inclusive Communities, which is a capstone course conceived and developed by Dr. Tiao to put students in a position to apply the theory and skills they have learned in other classes to real world concerns and problems.|
|Dr. S. Sonya Gwak is Director of Student Life, Research & Academic Services at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She was born in Korea and grew up in Ghana. Dr. Gwak is a “Penn Lifer” and earned a dual bachelors degree in Design of Enviroment and English at Penn, going on to earn an M.S.Ed. in Intercultural Communication, and finally PhD in Education – all at Penn.|
|Dr. Yuhong He is the International Specialist & Staff Psychologist, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Dr. He is passionate about working with individuals and groups with marginalized identities and social justice advocacy. She provides multilingual counseling, workshops, and consultation in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.|
|Dr. Ryan Miller is the Director of the Office of Learning Resources, at the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. He earned his Ed.D. in Reading/Writing/Literacy at Penn GSE in 2016, conducting research on the benefits of group inquiry for students and staff within post-secondary learning centers.|
|Elisabeth O'Connell is Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania.|
|Sharon Smith is the Associate Vice Provost for University Life.|
During this session, a diverse set of alumni from across the globe share their perspectives on the Penn experience and give you invaluable advice on how to make the most of your time at the University. You'll hear tips on networking, navigating a new cultural landscape, leveraging Penn's vast alumni network, and more.
|Margot Neuburger graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2012. Margot began her career at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Division, where she worked for five years in New York and London. She has since worked in investor relations for a private equity firm and in business development and marketing for a boutique asset management firm.|
|Shriya Gupta graduated from The College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2017 with a major in Psychology and a double minor in Consumer Psychology and Religious Studies. During her time at Penn she was actively involved with student clubs, such as The College Dean's Advisory Board, Assembly of International Students, Wharton India Economic Forum and Penn Naatak. Shriya is now based in New Delhi, India. She is currently working in sales & marketing and also serves on the board of the Penn Club of Delhi.|
|Thulani Tsabedze is from the Kingdom of Swaziland and spent 8 wonderful years at Penn, both as a student and research engineer . He received his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 2015, with a concentration in Design and Manufacturing. At Penn, he was part of the Penn World Scholars Program, National Society of Black Engineers and Penn Electric racing. Currently, he is a member of the Penn Alumni Interview Program. He is currently pursing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno.|
|Handerson Mwandembo graduated from the Wharton MBA program in 2020. Handerson was born in Kenya, and he currently works in investment banking in NYC. He was feted as this year's Honorable Mention Recipient (Graduate Category) of the Penn Global Student Citizenship award.|
|Joseph Chan is a 1991 graduate of The Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences. He is the Chief Legal Officer at YumChina, a US$20B Fortune 500 company listed on the NYSE. A member of the senior leadership team, he counsels management and the board, oversees the company’s legal, governance, risk management and compliance functions, and participates in formulating and executing corporate strategy.|
|Mahvish Ilyas graduated from the Department of Earth & Environmental Science with a master’s degree in Environmental Policy, Management & Business in 2018. She is originally from Lahore, Pakistan. Mahvish served the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) as a Graduate Chair and spearheaded the initiative of forming thematic teams within the Board to address the most pressing issues faced by the international students.|
This session for your parents will feature a panel made up of Penn officials and current Penn parents that will discuss general updates from the university in areas of student financial services, health and wellness, academics, and other areas.
|Kathleen S. Anderson, J.D., MBA is the Executive Director of Operations & Chief of Staff the Penn Division of Public Safety. Kathleen joined the Division of Public Safety in 2012 as the Director of Operations & External Affairs after five years as a Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney.|
|Erika Gross is the Chief Operating Officer for Wellness Services, Office of the Vice Provost for University Life. Erika has a 25-year professional history at Penn. Since 2011, she has served as the director of finance, administration and risk management at SHS. From 1993-2011, she held positions of increasing responsibility in the Office of Risk Management, culminating as director of international risk management.|
|Patrick Killilee is the Director of Penn Residential Services. Patrick has been with Penn since February 2019; prior to his role at Penn, he served as the Executive Director of Residential Services for close to a decade at Georgetown University.|
|Dr. Anita Mastroieni is the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Dr. Mastroieni has worked for the University of Pennsylvania for over 25 years. As Associate Vice Provost, she oversees academic policies related to graduate education, as well as graduate student life resources including the Graduate Student Center and the Family Resource Center.|
|Dr. Gary Purpura is the Executive Director for Education and Academic Planning in the Office of the Provost. Gary is a Lecturer and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences' Philosophy department, and earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.|
|Elaine Varas is the Senior University Director of Financial Aid at Penn Student Registration & Financial Services (SRFS). Elaine joined the Penn community in March of 2016 and brings with her more than 30 years’ experience in the field of financial aid.|
|Pamela Boulet, the parent of Alexandre (CAS ‘18) and Charles (CAS ‘20), is the co-founder of Alma Mater Europe, an education consultancy company based in Paris with offices in the South of France, Rio, and Sao Paolo. Upon graduation from Wellesley College in 1987, Pamela worked for PMK Public Relations, an entertainment PR firm in NYC where she promoted foreign films in the United States, moving to France to organize a film festival with the American Center in Paris. Fun fact: Pamela was born while her father was still a student at Penn!|
Since 2015, Forerunner has taken place in Delhi (Forerunner India), Beijing (Forerunner China), and on Penn's campus (Forerunner Africa). In 2020, the Forerunner team was recognized as an honorable mention for Penn's Models of Excellence award for its outstanding work in bringing the world to Penn and Penn to the world.
While ongoing travel restrictions related to COVID-19 prevented us from meeting our incoming international students in person for Forerunner in 2020, we were excited for the opportunity to welcome our new students and their families from all around the planet with Forerunner Global!
Learn more about past Forerunners in the below videos.
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:
|Office of the Vice Provost for Education||