House Life

House Life

College House Deans' Integrated Knowledge Award

College House Deans' Integrated Knowledge Award

The mission of the College Houses at Penn is to provide supportive residential communities for undergraduate students. By design, the Houses integrate the intellectual and academic experiences of the conventional classroom with the everyday life—through programming, events, and powerful interactions between faculty, staff, and students.

In support of that academic mission, the twelve College House Deans, who serve as chief administrators of these communities, are pleased to announce the winners of the seventh annual College House Deans Integrated Knowledge Award.

Award Winners

(left to right: 2018 awardees Sophia Griffith-Gorgati, Kate Byrne-Slepicka, and Emily Zhao)

First Place:
Sophia Griffith-Gorgati
Harnwell College House

House Dean Courtney Dombroski and Sophia Griffith-Gorgati

Sophia’s passion is sustainability, and after she watched a documentary about garment industry workers in a Penn course, she became fascinated by the subject of sustainable fashion in particular – fashion being an industry which has a history of pollution and worker abuse. To discuss the intersection of sustainability, feminism, and capitalist critique, she started a blog which has garnered nearly 3,000 views, and she has undertaken extensive research in the topic. Exemplifying the integration of knowledge that the College House Deans’ Award seeks out, she brought that learning into her House, creating an event to examine and discuss the ways that Harnwellians can change the way they think about and purchase clothing to reduce waste and improve conditions for garment workers. Additionally, she has spent much of her time at Penn engaged in combating sexual violence, interning over the summer with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and directing a recent Penn production of the Vagina Monologues, which raised over $15,000 for Philadelphia’s Women Organized Against Rape. “In all she does,” says her Harnwell RA, Emily Marucci, “Sophia is unafraid to pursue her passions and share her life with others. She is extremely eloquent about the choices she makes and why she makes them, positively impacting others with her openness and vulnerability.”

Second Place:
Kate Byrne-Slepicka
Gregory College House

House Dean Chris Donovan and Kate Byrne-Slepicka

As a House Manager in Gregory College House, Kate has been responsible for two of Gregory’s defining programs: Dinner with Gregory and Transfer Community Programming. A transfer student herself, Kate leapt into the community at Gregory and has lent her knowledge of psychology and behavioral and cognitive science to the work being done in the House, creating challenging and interesting events for her Housemates. “I have become part of a strong and far-reaching community of transfers,” she says. “Communication, community and exploration... I have worked within Gregory to make them a reality for myself and my peers.”



Third Place:
Emily Zhao
Stouffer College House

Emily Zhao and House Dean Nadir Sharif

Sustainable development and green living are second nature to Emily Zhao. In high school she was a mainstay of the Environmental Club and helped create a burgeoning organic garden that filled her Austin, Texas school with fresh produce. Now interning at the Penn Sustainability Office, she has brought ecological awareness to her Stouffer Housemates. “From hallmates across the oor to new neighbors in other floors, I encourage everyone to partake in green living actions,” she says. Even more than just at Stouffer, she has taken her message to the other Houses, coordinating the College Houses’ participation in the Power Down Challenge. She is also planning a full event centered around energy usage for her House. “I have been so impressed with how Emily has taken the knowledge learned in her Wharton curriculum and applied it to her sustainability internship,” says her supervisor at Penn Sustainability, Elizabeth Main. “She has been instrumental in helping our office reach a larger audence for so many of our outreach programs.”


The award recipients received a cash prize at a special award reception in April 2018:

  • First prize: $1,000
  • Second prize: $500
  • Third prize: $250

Award winners and their House Deans

Selection Committee

The candidates were reviewed and winners chosen by the College House Deans: Rhina Duquela of Du Bois; Ebonish Lamar of Fisher Hassenfeld; Dr. Christopher Donovan of Gregory; Courtney Dombroski of Harnwell; Dr. Frank Pellicone of Harrison; Deona Hatley of Hill; Trina Nocerino of New College House; Dr. Krimo Bokreta of Kings Court English; Dr. Marilynne Diggs-Thompson of Riepe; Kathryn McDonald of Rodin; Nadir Sharif of Stouffer; and Amanda Atkinson of Ware.