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In a video clip included in the new exhibit at the Penn Museum, Native American Voices: The People—Here and Now, Tlingit fiber-artist Teri Rofkar discusses how she views her art: “Don’t look at the endpoint. It’s the journey that’s important.”

Rofkar, who is also a research associate at the Museum, was one of four Native American advisors who worked with lead curator Lucy Fowler Williams CGS’01 Gr’08 to develop the exhibit. According to Fowler Williams, Rofkar came up with the idea of the virtual fire pit that is one of its most striking features. But as our cover story, “Know That We Are Still Here,” by Beebe Bahrami Gr’95, makes clear, that’s far from the only thing that’s unique about this show.

Combining the Museum’s extensive collection of Native American objects and modern technology, the show foregrounds the current experience of Native Americans and the present state of Native cultures through a rich array of video and audio clips, written materials, biographies, photographs, and more. Objects range from 12,000-year-old Clovis spear-points to contemporary art pieces that reference cell phones and the Grand Theft Auto video game.

While paying tribute to the resilience of Native cultures in the face of attempted annihilation and assimilation and celebrating the creative, social/political, and intellectual ferment of the contemporary scene, the exhibit is forthright about that tragic history and the continuing struggle of Native Americans over how they are represented in the larger culture (a certain NFL franchise may come to mind).

The journey to college can be a stressful one, as any parent of a high-school junior or senior will know (if not sooner). When it comes to Penn, we’ve certainly run our share of articles celebrating the University’s increasing popularity and the ever-more-extraordinary achievements of each successive class. Which likely has left many Penn alumni parents and grandparents wondering: what chance does my kid have of getting in?

Short answer: the odds are pretty steep. For the Class of 2018, who will be freshmen this fall, there were nearly 36,000 applicants. The overall admit rate was about 10 percent.

Admissions Dean Eric Furda C’87 and his staff have the mind-bending task of sifting through this mountain of applications (figuratively speaking; the admissions process is all online now) to select the students who will be offered admission.

In “Five I’s, Four C’s, and the Right Road to College,” Furda talks about the factors behind the University’s increasing selectivity. He also provides his advice and insights into how to approach the college-application process in a way that gives students a healthy shot at finding a school—maybe Penn, or maybe not—that will suit their personality and meet the majority of their educational needs and preferences.

There’s a lot written these days about the need to be adaptable, ready to reinvent oneself at a moment’s notice, but the current era has nothing on the 19th century—at least as represented by alumnus William A. Newell M1839, profiled by senior editor Samuel Hughes in “Life Saver.”

The title refers to Newell’s leadership role in setting up the first federally funded system to respond to shipwrecks (precursor to the US Coast Guard). He did that while serving as a US Representative from New Jersey, the state he would later also serve as governor, before becoming governor of Washington Territory towards the end of his life.

Along with his ocean-rescue and political careers, he was a practicing physician. His activities in that realm included possibly saving President Lincoln’s son Tad from typhoid and surgically replacing a patient’s lost eyelid with skin from his cheek.

This issue also includes our annual coverage of Commencement—celebrating the beginning of the new graduates’ post-college journey into life—and Alumni Weekend. The journey in that case was a new one as well, as the parade and picnic moved to Penn Park.

—John Prendergast C’80, Editor
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