Alumni Stories

Jesse Hamilton, MLA ‘19
Philosophy Graduate Student

Jesse completed an undergraduate degree in business after he returned from active duty, but wanted to explore his longtime interest in philosophy. At Penn, he took classes across disciplines, studied moral dilemmas in combat situations, and laid the foundation for an advanced graduate degree.

Manshreya Grover, MLA ‘18
Junior anthropologist and research assistant

Manshreya entered the MLA program with a background in neuroscience and a desire to explore new subjects. Courses in creative writing and organizational dynamics reignited her love of learning and aptitude for telling effective stories about how organizations can manage change.

Ivelisse Cruz, MLA ‘17
Nonprofit and Small Business Coordinator, Philadelphia VIP

Through her MLA coursework, Ivelisse discovered a passion for urban studies and community action. Now a board member of her neighborhood association and an active participant in local committees, Ivelisse is dedicated to confronting city safety issues and finding solutions that put people first.

Richard Zorger, MLA ‘17
Linux system administrator

Richard’s graduate studies show that a liberal arts education encompasses science and math as well as the humanities. With access to world-class technological scientists and research, he took an interdisciplinary approach to the question of how humankind might develop and interact with artificial intelligence.

Jennifer O’Mara, MLA ‘17
PA State Representative, District 165

At Penn, Jennifer discovered how memoir can be used as therapy, and combined her final research project with her personal narrative of coping with trauma and loss. Our flexible master’s program allowed her to find her voice—and prepared her to tell her story on the campaign trail.

Carolyn Wilburn, MLA 17
Executive Assistant, Student Registration & Financial Services

A full-time university employee, Carolyn enjoyed the flexibility to choose her own curriculum on a schedule that fit her busy life. The courses she took in African American studies and politics inspired her in-depth research project about the one-drop rule that defined racial ideology in American history. 

Brad Richards, MLA ‘17
Director of Alumni Relations, Penn Engineering

Brad wanted to study how one piece of artwork captured the story of Philadelphia and became the center of a larger conversation about cultural heritage and civic action. Our flexible master’s program allowed him to embrace his passion for art history—and explore new fields of study.

Brian Bocchicchio, MLA '15
English Teacher, Haddon Heights Junior/Senior High

An Educator of the Year winner, South Jersey's Top Teacher winner and a regular teacher of the month, Brian Bocchicchio is proof that the best teachers are lifelong students. A lover of poetry, creative writing, and literature, Brian came to Penn to dig deep into his very favorite subject—monsters.

Medha Sengupta, MLA '15
Research Specialist at the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at Penn Medicine

After graduating from Drexel University, Medha joined Penn Medicine as a research assistant in clinical trials for cancer treatment. Discover how her interests in neurobiology, mental health and public health converged for a very important capstone with direct impact on Penn students.

Sorrel Ann Alburger, MLA '15
Communications Consultant, Cuba Partners Network

After 15 years of working at Wharton, Sorrel finally took the leap and become a Penn student with the MLA program. Combining her love of technology, business and international relations, Sorrell’s capstone led her down many fulfilling roads.

Stephan Clyburn, MLA '15
Professor, West Chester University

With three master’s degrees and one PhD candidacy, Stephan Clyburn is no stranger to higher education. His life’s work has focused on social movements and social causes, particularly those that impact African Americans and the African-American community. Learn more about his research and the issues he enthusiastically brings to light.

Caroline Lee, MLA '14
English Teacher, Princeton Day School

A high school English teacher with a bachelor’s from Rutgers and a master’s from Penn State, Caroline Lee was looking for something truly unique for her next educational endeavor. At the University of Pennsylvania, Caroline’s knack for creative writing and curiosity about her family’s history culminated in an enthralling capstone.

Alhaji Saccoh, MLA '14
Founder, Sierra Leone Children’s Fund; Volunteer Firefighter

Alhaji Saccoh left his home country of Sierra Leone at the age of 16 to pursue his education in the United States. Since then he’s traveled back to improve his village’s schools and fire department. His MLA research focused on economic reform in Sierra Leone and his goal today is to return home and make lasting positive changes.

Luz Gamauf, MLA '10
Professor, Montgomery County Community College

Luz is a current PhD student at Immaculata University and a Spanish professor at Montgomery County Community College. With a background in finance in Latin America, Luz is anything but a typical student. Learn how her multi-faceted expertise helped her to develop a captivating capstone project on Cuban history.

Chris Gibbons, MLA '09
Partner and Financial Advisor, Thrivent Financial

When Chris Gibbons was looking for a graduate program, he wanted the flexibility to study topics that bridged religion, political science, law, history and social science. Today, he works for Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit financial advising organization for Christians. There, he helps people become wise with money so that they can feel inspired to live generously.

Frank DiMauro, MLA '09
Chief Financial Officer, SNJ Today

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Frank DiMauro went on to lead a road-less-traveled career. Between working in marketing, to running a multimedia production company and being an active environmentalist, Frank has plenty of stories to tell.

Greg Caputo, MLA '08

A decade ago, Greg Caputo probably never imagined himself to be a writer. Today he’s working with production companies on scripted and non-scripted TV shows, and is working on his second book—a novel about a teenager dealing with anxiety. Learn how a fateful car accident lead him to where he is today.