Living Our Mission
|Gina Del Monte, Saint Joseph’s University ’05Gina Del Monte’s parents are originally from South Philly. When it came time for Gina, who lived in Wildwood Crest, NJ, to select a college, her parents convinced her to look at schools in the region—and it worked. “Once I toured campus and realized how much more the city had to offer, I fell in love. I didn’t know about South Street, University City or the suburbs. It’s been 10 years since I have moved to Philadelphia, and I can’t imagine calling any other place my home.”Having graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 2005, Gina now works as an account analyst at the Graham Company and has a home in Manayunk. What factors made Gina decide to stay? “Philadelphia has so much [to] offer for recent graduates. There are so many great employers in this city that are ready and willing to help recent grads. Also, you can live right in Center City without having to pay an arm and a leg in rent. The bars are somewhat reasonably priced and you don’t have to wait three months to get into your favorite restaurant.”|
Tamara Manik-Perlman, Swarthmore College ’03
Hailing from Oakland, California, Tamara Manik-Perlman didn’t know much about Philadelphia when she decided to attend Swarthmore College. “My parents lived on separate coasts, and I’d been experiencing layovers at the Philadelphia Airport for almost 10 years, but that was about the extent of my knowledge,” said Tamara.
Tamara learned how easy it was go to from campus to the city early on: “When I came to Philadelphia to visit Swarthmore, I somehow missed the college shuttle that was sent to pick me up at the airport, probably because I didn’t recognize the pronunciation of name on the airport public address system. Being a city girl, I simply hopped on SEPTA and took the R3 out to Swarthmore. When I arrived, the admissions office was in a tizzy because I had been MIA, but I had a nice early introduction to how accessible the city was by public transit.”
Tamara loved Swarthmore, but ended up living in the city during her senior year. “I actually moved into the city my last year of college and commuted out to the suburbs. A number of my friends who had graduated the previous year were staying because they were working with local nonprofit organizations that they had connected with during school. We started off with seven of us living in a four-story house in Northern Liberties in 2001. Though we’ve since dispersed a bit, most of us are still living in Philly, and a number of people have put down roots and bought houses.”
Tamara decided to stay in Philadelphia. “Initially it was because I couldn’t afford to move back to the Bay Area. Over time I’ve discovered that in Philadelphia many of the aspects of urban life most important to me—living alongside people who aren’t just like me, delicious and varied foods (including great locally grown produce), a thriving independent arts scene—are within financial and geographical reach. This is actually a pretty unusual combination.”
Tamara works at Azavea as a project manager and GIS analyst. She lives in South Philadelphia.
Michiko Hunt, Temple University ’08
Michiko Hunt was born and raised right here in Philadelphia. Having what she calls “an unconventional college experience,” Michiko started her college years in North Carolina, but wound up leaving after only two semesters. Over the next few years, she would attend Temple University on and off again, as well as gain experience as an AmeriCorps member. After spending some time working, she returned in 2006 and graduated with a BA in American Studies from Temple in 2008.
Originally, Michiko wanted to “experience life beyond the 215 area code,” and after living in numerous cities, she decided to come back. “It was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Michiko said.
What made her change her mind? “I discovered an entirely new city, full of people and places I had no idea existed back when I was in high school. My return also happened to coincide with a real renaissance for Philadelphia, with more and more young professionals and families coming to live here, which brought with it a wave of new stores, coffee shops, bars, theaters, restaurants, yoga studios and more. This has definitely been an exciting decade to be young in this city,” she said.
Michiko is the assistant director of the University Community Collaborative of Philadelphia and resides in the Graduate Hospital section of Philadelphia.
Jonathan Gregory, Saint Joseph’s University ’06
Originally from Hazelton, PA, Jonathan Gregory decided to attend Saint Joseph’s University, giving him an opportunity he hadn’t had growing up: the chance to “experience what a major city had to offer.”
Jonathan graduated with an accounting degree in May 2006. Because of job opportunities, the Saint Joseph’s University graduate decided to stay in the region and began a full-time job. He is an external auditor at Cardio Net, Inc. and lives in Drexel Hill.
Paul Sevcik, Temple University ’09
Paul Sevcik was born in Poland and moved to Chicago in 1990. When selecting a college to acquire his MBA, Paul discovered Temple University’s 11-month international MBA program, offering the chance to study in Paris, Shanghai, Tokoyo and, of course, Philadelphia. He said, “It was the only school in the Philadelphia region that had a program with such international exposure.”
He graduated in January 2009 and decided to stay in the region. Prior to being accepted into the MBA program, Paul had served as a teacher at La Salle Academy for two years. “By that point, I had a large network here and networked my way right into an internship opportunity with the Gabriel Institute,” said Paul.
Now a full-time employee at the Gabriel Institute, Paul currently resides in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.
Marissa Litman, Bryn Mawr College ’05
Bryn Mawr College’s proximity to Philadelphia and accessible public transportation impacted Marissa Litman’s decision to attend the school. The California native graduated in 2005. “I actually chose Philadelphia before knowing whether or not I had a job lined up after graduation. I knew that Philly had everything I wanted from a city: no car required, great food, accessible arts and culture, and the fact that I could find a decent apartment without breaking the bank.”
What keeps Marissa here? “Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to become a part of a wonderful community full of interesting, intelligent and friendly individuals, who are all committed to bettering Philadelphia and the world at large. Philly has become my home, and every time I have friends visit from California, they are always pleasantly surprised at how awesome the city is. I love when that happens!”
Marissa lives in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, recently completed her Masters in Public Administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government and works as a Consultant with Public Financial Management, Inc.
Cara Petonic, Bryn Mawr College ’07
Growing up outside Pittsburgh, Cara Petonic knew she wanted to be near a city during her college career. She chose Bryn Mawr College, despite not being very familiar with the region. Cara wanted the chance to get to know Philadelphia better.
In 2007, Cara graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics. Why did she decide to stay? She said, “Philadelphia has all the things I want in a city: It is the perfect size (not too big or small), each neighborhood has its own sense of character, it is very walkable, there are many opportunities for young people to get involved outside of work, and its geographic location makes travel to other cities (DC, NYC, Boston, Pittsburgh, etc.) very easy.”
Cara works at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC as an equity research associate and resides in the Fitler Square area of Philadelphia.
Danielle Santacroce, Chestnut Hill College ’07
Having been raised at the Jersey Shore in the idyllic town of Rumson, and a short boat ride from a frequented NYC, Philadelphia seemed a world away when Danielle initially began her college search. Through a family friend and Sister of St. Joseph, Danielle was recommended Chestnut Hill College, a then very small, Catholic College on the border of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, teetering on the edge of a future of co-education after 80 years of being an all-female undergraduate school.
In the fall of 2002, Danielle traveled with her parents to visit Chestnut Hill College, knowing immediately where her next four years would be spent due to an immediate “connection that felt like home, and suddenly living somewhere else wasn’t such a scary prospect.” That feeling was solidified after realizing that she could be a huge part of the historic moment in the College’s existence, and make an impact on its future.
After four years, living and working, and falling in love at Chestnut Hill, Danielle found herself graduating with a degree in History & Education and engaged to her fellow classmate, Mike Santacroce, by May 2007. She had also learned to love the area, with its proximity to three major cities, her family and her new family. Danielle decided this is where she saw herself staying. With teaching jobs scarce, Danielle took a position at TEKsystems as an administrative assistant in the fall of 2003 and remains there today, having worked up the ladder, becoming the Customer Support Supervisor for her branch of the IT Staffing and Services company.
Currently living in Skippack, PA, Danielle couldn’t be happier with her decision to stay in the Philadelphia area. “We were able to buy a house in 2008, get married and start living our life in a great, small town with cute shops and restaurants, good schools and great neighbors! I’ll always miss the ocean, but the great thing about living here is that its only 2 hours away!”