Digital Project Management & Communications

Tag: University of Pennsylvania

Jillian Kuhn Warren graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She actively participates in alumni organizations and led the 2011 redesign of the University’s website.

Choosing Penn

College Green at the University of Pennsylvania

“Where did you go to school?”
“University of Pennsylvania.”
“Why did you decide to go there?”

This is a conversation I have all the time. Here’s the long version of my answer to the Why Penn? question.

In high school, I realized I had a passion for journalism, languages, and the humanities. I didn’t have a dream profession just yet, so I explored schools with communications, journalism, creative writing, English, and French programs. Academically rigorous and distinguished programs rose to the top of my list. I also checked to make sure these schools offered the extracurricular activities that were most important to me"Activities can be a crucial part of college applications" Daily Herald article (check out this 2001 Daily Herald article featuring me and my extracurriculars).

Location-wise, I wanted to push my boundaries. You don’t get many chances to try living in another part of the country for four years with no strings attached. I would get to meet different people, experience another region’s culture, and further develop my independence. Ultimately, I considered a handful of Midwest schools but focused primarily on the East Coast.

Once I had a list of schools that were a match for me academically and geographically, I continued on the search for the best fit! My parents and I drove East during spring break of my junior year to tour several universities. Penn was not one of them. Although I remember receiving a Penn brochure in the mail that year, it didn’t click with me for some reason. However, after seeing other campuses and realizing that I preferred larger, more urban schools, my mom suggested we drive through Philadelphia on our way home. A traffic jam and pouring rain kept us from setting foot on Penn’s campus that day, but I saw enough from the backseat window to pique my interest.

Later that spring, I skipped my junior prom to accompany my dad on a business trip to Philly. When he wasn’t working, we headed over to University City to look around and take a campus tour. We both loved it. Everything about the campus just felt right; and the more I saw, the more I liked it. We brought Mom back to Penn in September to make sure it was the one for me, and we were all hooked. I came back to Illinois and started work on my Early Decision application right away.

My two application essaysUniversity of Pennsylvania Quad prove just how excited I was about the possibility of attending Penn. The first is my response to the famous “write page 217 of your 300-page autobiography” prompt, and the second discusses why I was interested in Penn.

Even years later, I am still absolutely confident that Penn was the right choice for me.

Customized Diploma Frame

University of Pennsylvania Communications Certificate

I thought my new office needed a little sprucing up, so I customized this frame for my Communications graduation certificate and will soon be hanging it on the office wall.

The Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania awards these to graduates with an undergraduate major in Communication. While I quickly got a nice frame for my University diploma, my major certificate never got the same attention. It had been sitting around my house in an old frame but definitely deserved something a little nicer!

First, I bought this dual-photo frame from Michael’s. It’s typically used to showcase graduation or youth sports photos. Then, I downloaded the Ben Franklin statue photo from the Penn Campus Photos page (courtesy of my friends at the Penn Web Team!) and ordered a print from an online photo service. Voila! Gorgeous customized diploma frame!

Blind Date

Blind Date: a film by Jillian Kuhn

Here’s another oldie but a goodie from my old student video vault: Blind Date. I created this film for my Film/Video I course, and our assignment was to turn something that takes more than one hour and distill it into a 60-second video. It’s horribly cheesy and poorly lit, but I still love it. Enjoy!

The Red and Blue, Reimagined: the new Admissions & Aid page

September 19, 2011
Written for Viget Labs’ Four Labs Blog
Original Post

I’ve been bursting at the seams trying to keep this one a secret, but the time has finally come to announce the new!

This site serves as the primary web portal for the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution in Philadelphia. Founded by Benjamin Franklin more than 250 years ago, Penn has rich historical roots and a modern, forward-thinking philosophy that has helped it grow into one of the world’s premier centers for education, scholarship, and research. It’s also the best school in the world (although, as an alum, I am clearly biased).

Penn’s previous site had been around since my freshman year (a long time ago, especially by web standards) and no longer accurately reflected the University’s evolving personality and standing in the global community. needed a modern design that showcased the University’s friendly culture, top academics, and commitment to service … And, that’s where Viget came in. homepage, designed by Viget Labs

From our initial on-campus workshop to final site testing before launch, this engagement ran the gamut of our web expertise — including user experience and visual design, front-end development, and marketing services. We handed off our built-out files to the Penn team to integrate and add content, and everyone’s hard work culminated in a final product that truly does Penn justice.

The new site, informed by extensive user research, shows off the University of Pennsylvania’s unique features through beautiful campus imagery. These gorgeous images, many of which were taken by the talented Penn Web team, really make the site come alive. In particular, the simple yet eye-catching homepage uses striking visuals to tell the University’s story in a compelling way. The large background image changes each time the page refreshes, and the red headlines sidebar is anchored to the left for maximum impact. The Life at Penn section, another storytelling tool, gives a great glimpse into campus culture — particularly for off-campus audiences. Sports & Recreation

This main .edu site faces big challenges in that it needs to address every possible user group, from prospective students to staff to alumni, and it has to cover a ton of information. We used an audience-specific level of homepage navigation and carefully planned page layouts to point these diverse users toward the content they’re seeking. This one site connects the different departments, schools, and initiatives in an intuitive, organized way.

Thanks for all the hard work @viget! The new looks awesome! – @PennWebTeam

As someone with a ridiculous amount of Red and Blue pride, working on this project has been a dream come true! My sincerest thanks and congratulations go out to the wonderful Penn Web and Communications teams and my talented Viget team members. I think Ben Franklin would be amazed at your work and at just how far his University has come. Here’s a toast to dear old Penn!

The of yesterday (2002 redesign):

The old

The of today (2011 Viget redesign): About page, designed by Viget Labs, 2011

An Old Student Film of Mine

Zeyen & Nazia

Zeyen & Nazia

I was just reminded of Zeyen & Nazia, a short film I helped create as part of a fine arts course my senior year at Penn. We went through the full filmmaking process — from editing the script to casting actors to directing and editing. Our class divided the different filmmaker & crew duties among ourselves for each stage of the process: pre-production, several shoots, and post-production. For instance, I directed one scene (the scene in his apartment, basically everything where you see spray paint), was propmaster for another, and makeup and wardrobe for yet another. It was easily one of my favorite courses, and I’m still so proud of what we accomplished.

We won the Greater Philadelphia Student Film Festival in 2006, and our film is still on the website. Check it out here!

Featured on @PennCareerDay


I am a proud University of Pennsylvania Quaker — and, as such, I was thrilled (and honored!) to be last week’s featured alumni contributor to Penn Career Services’ “A Day in the Life” series. Throughout the course of one business day, I tweeted about my job and my activities on the University’s @PennCareerDay Twitter account.

@PennCareerDay Twitter stream

You can read my tweets on @PennCareerDay (although the next alum will surely be posting soon!), and check out my featured alum profile.

Penn Career Services featured alum profile

Thanks so much to Shannon and the Penn Career Services team for this opportunity!

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