Jill Ivey (C'06)

As an already admitted prematriculant, Jill visited Penn from her home in Texas in April of 2002, five months before she would come to campus for her four years. During her visit she visited the Writers House and happened to attend a presentation by alumna writer Lisa Scottoline. Here is what Jill write afterward to a dozen other members of her new Penn class:

Okay, guys, on to the highlight of my weekend. As much at home as I felt on the campus itself, when I walked into the Kelly Writers House, I was in heaven! (I personally plan to move in and sleep on the couch that eats things...) Aside from being a really beautiful place, it's a fabulous, unique establishment. I can't even begin to describe it. It even has a kitchen-- looks like I really am stuck making y'all gumbo...

Last night, my mother and I returned to the Writers' House to hear what was supposed to be a reading from Lisa Scottoline, a Penn grad and former lawyer who is now touted as "the female John Grisham." It wasn't really a reading, but it was still great. Ms. Scottoline talked to us. She sat with us, wandered through the seats, even gave people hugs if she liked their questions. (My mom got a hug when she told Ms. Scottoline that her primary sense of Philadelphia geography came from reading her books. Sadly, this is true.) We talked about writing technique, inspiration, the publishing business, and mostly about doing the things that you want to do rather than the things that you feel you should. (We-- mostly females-- also talked about the "cute boys on campus.") She wasn't at all what I expected-- she was accessible and real and, well, not an egghead. She was there, only a few feet away from me-- talking to me-- not in a giant lecture hall or auditorium giving a speech she's given thousands of times. I was in awe of the whole situation without being in awe of the writer. It's amazing to think of authors as people sometimes: could you imagine seeing your mother get a hug from Edna St. Vincent Millay or Ayn Rand? But at the Writers' House, they're on our level. They're not pretentious, and they know that once upon a time, they were in our shoes. It's an amazing feeling.