Meet Mona Shangold, M.D., BFS (GH) Class of '68!

The General Honors Program (now Benjamin Franklin Scholars Program) offered us not only academically challenging courses and incredibly smart classmates, but also an opportunity to spend a great deal of time with this small group of scholarly classmates, enabling us to bond with each other in a way that enhanced the experience for all of us. Many of my GH classmates formed very close friendships with each other, and most of us have remained connected since then. Although I have many other good friends from my undergraduate days at Penn, I feel a special bond to my GH friends because of our shared experience in the GH Program.

I can remember some great teachers, excellent courses, and interesting details from several GH courses. During the botany section of our GH Biology course, I remember measuring and monitoring the growth of our Coleus plants – a process that led to a long and very enjoyable hobby as a gardener and many generations of Coleus plants derived from the original class treasure. The GH German course taught me to speak German fluently enough to be mistaken for a German native when I visited Germany during the summer after graduation. (Unfortunately, I lost my German fluency soon afterward.) I graduated from Penn as a chemistry major – a subject for which I had little aptitude – but didn’t realize this until it was too late to major in any other subject and still graduate on time.

After medical school and OB-GYN residency at Duke and fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology at Albert Einstein, I spent 18 years in academic medicine, followed by 20 years in solo private practice (women’s health and office gynecology). Most of my writing and speaking addressed women’s health and exercise, and most of my research dealt with the reproductive effects of exercise – helping to create the field of “Sports Gynecology.” I have written several books and many professional and nonprofessional articles. For several years, I also enjoyed writing monthly columns for several publications, including Runner’s World, for which I served as women’s editor. I also ran a few marathons, but several musculoskeletal problems ended my running career. During most of my life, I was active in both professional and community organizations; I have been an activist for both gifted education and cemetery preservation. I helped found a nonprofit organization to raise funds for NJ Jewish cemeteries and still devote much time to this cause. In May 2016, I closed my practice and retired from practicing medicine.

I was certainly glad to be in the General Honors Program, and I value both the experience and the friendships I gained from participating.