After four years of dedicated service to the LSJ community, Academic Adviser Alyssa Penner will be leaving the University of Washington this September. Students, alumni, and faculty gathered in Kane Hall’s Walker-Ames Room on Wednesday, August 23rd to celebrate her time in LSJ and to give her a proper send-off into the next chapter of her life.
Throughout the night, attendees spoke to the numerous invaluable contributions Penner has made to the LSJ department.
“A huge reason why this program is as healthy and as successful as it’s ever been is creditable to Alyssa’s vision, passion, and immense effort,” said Alex Lynch, former LSJ Academic Adviser.
During her time in LSJ, Penner has been crucial in building community by connecting alumni to current students and providing various opportunities for students’ professional development. By quickly recognizing the untapped potential for growth and the immense capabilities of LSJ majors, Penner was able to bring students together around impactful programming.
“Four years ago, we didn’t have a Gap Year Panel. Four years ago, we didn’t have an annual Career Panel. Four years ago, we didn’t have quarterly Pizzas with the Professor. Four years ago, we didn’t have quarterly Happy Hours. Four years ago, we didn’t have an alumni mentorship program. Four years ago, we didn’t have career readiness components built into our LSJ 401 curriculum. We had none of those things four years ago,” LSJ Director Steve Herbert said. “We have those now because of Alyssa.”
Anu Sindhu, a graduate of the LSJ class of 2014, is herself a testament to Penner’s work in the department.
“You’ve connected me with a lot of LSJ students who can learn from my experience and with students who I’ve learned from,” Sindhu said. “That’s building and sustaining community and I think that’s what LSJ is all about. I think you’ve really cemented that ideal.”
Not only has Penner been a key figure in students’ academic and professional careers, but also a constant source of support in their personal lives.
As senior Kelsey Early noted in her speech, “I just remember, being at a big school, having days where I was walking through campus, passing so many faces but feeling really alone. And I would oftentimes just wander into the LSJ advising office to talk to Alyssa and it never failed that I left feeling less alone and with a smile on my face.”
Matt Huang, LSJ class of 2017, shared many of the same sentiments about Penner saying, “Not only is she an academic adviser, but also a life adviser. Alyssa is different, someone who actually cares for you—like family. She went above and beyond an adviser’s role. I’m so thankful I had her.”
While Penner may be leaving in September for her next adventure, it’s clear that the effect that she has had on LSJ will be long-lasting.
“She’s left us a remarkable legacy, and the rest of us owe it to her to do what we can to perpetuate it,” Herbert said.
For Penner, it’s just as clear that the experience of working in LSJ is one that she will carry with her as she leaves.
“Words cannot describe how much this job has meant to me, how much this community has meant to me, how much you all have meant to me,” Penner concluded. “Having this outlet and this space where I could just connect with you, laugh with you, and cry with you was so meaningful to me. Thank you.”
By Medha Raman | LSJ Communications Assistant