Chapter 1: Childhood and Family
15:41:27:00 - 15:41:40:27
Lisa: My name is Lisa Sonneborn. I'm interviewing Soeren Palumbo at Temple University on September 25, 2013. Also present is our videographer Paul Van Haute. And Soeren do I have your permission to begin our interview?
Soeren: Yes, yes you do.
15:41:40:29 - 15:41:53:20
Lisa: Thank you. Can we start by having you tell me your name and your current occupation?
Soeren: My name is Soeren Palumbo. I am currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wharton School.
15:41:55:00 - 15:42:19:02
Lisa: Soeren I think we're going to start our interview today by talking about your family and your early childhood. So the first logical question is when and where were you born?
Soeren: I was born in Washington DC in 1988; September of 1988 and moved to the suburbs of Chicago soon after that. So I spent almost all of my childhood outside of the city of Chicago.
15:42:20:00 - 15:43:01:19
Lisa: Can you tell me a little bit about your parents; maybe starting with your mom?
Soeren: Sure. My mom Kristen grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee; was part of a big family growing up and she went to St. Mary's College which is an all-girls school close to the university of Notre Dame and there, while she was a student, she met my dad Drew Palumbo who was a student at the University of Notre Dame and they met there, got married, moved to the DC area for a short while and then because of some job transfers ended up in Chicago.
15:43:02:10 - 15:43:41:15
Lisa: Was your mom a working mom?
Soeren: My mom was a nursing student while she was at St. Mary's and then she worked as a registered Nurse for, let's see, probably 4 or 5 years. She, after I was born, she was still working as a nurse and then probably after my first sister was born as well so about 4-5 years she worked at a hospital. She was a neo-natal intensive care nurse. So she worked in the NICU for a couple of years and worked with babies that were about the size of a quarter. Premature, weeks and weeks and weeks premature and absolutely loved her job.
15:43:42:20 - 15:44:26:15
Lisa: And your dad, what was your dad's profession?
Soeren: So my dad was a biology student at the University of Notre Dame; decided that he didn't want to go to medical school. He wanted to go into business school and go into the business of healthcare. So he studied Business of Healthcare at the University of Chicago and their MBA program and then went into what was kind of a niche field then, was healthcare consulting and did that for a little while and then got into healthcare management and hospital management and has worked with physician groups kind of as a general manager/business manager with a group of doctors and is now a senior leader at a hospital healthcare center outside of Chicago.
15:44:27:20 - 15:45:39:15
Lisa: Do you have any siblings and if so can you describe them for me?
Soeren: Sure. I have three younger sisters. The oldest one just turned 22 years old so she's three years younger than I am. Her name is Rachael. Rachael just graduated from Notre Dame recently and is now a medical student at University of Loyola in Chicago and then after her is my sister Olivia who is turning 19 in November and she is in her 4th year of high school in the town that I grew up in and then my youngest sister Sofie, Sofia, Sofie; she just turned 14 and is a freshmen in high school. All of that makes me feel very, very old. So they all live outside of Chicago and it's been a treat to watch them grow up, sort of move on from middle school to high school from an underclassman in high school to a upperclassman from college to medical school.
15:45:40:15 - 15:46:20:06
Lisa: How do you fare, the only guy with all these gals?
Soeren: It's a... there's a lot of feminine energy in our house growing up and I guess I get to benefit from a lot of feminine wisdom being tossed around whether I wanted it or not. My family, we get along very well, and it's a treat to be able to get all of the different perspectives whether that's from an internal perspective from my mom; whether that's from a 14 year old girl; whether that's from a medical student; we definitely all benefit from having the different voices in the house.
15:46:21:00 - 15:47:50:13
Lisa: So how would you describe your childhood?
Soeren: I grew up in a pretty standard suburbia. We had a backyard. We had a front yard. We had a yellow lab. We grew up in a single family house and went to the schools in town. My family and I were, I think, pretty normal from that point of view and then the diversion from that, or the departure from that, I guess, from the standard family experience was when my sister Olivia was diagnosed with epilepsy and sort of an array of intellectual and emotional disabilities and I don't want to say dealing with that but folding that into our family experience made it a little bit different and we didn't do the big family vacations that a lot of other families did. We didn't spend a lot of time in crowded restaurants. We had... I think we became maybe a bit more inward looking as a family. Selected our family friends with a bit more precision and that didn't dictate my upbringing but it certainly effected it.
15:47:51:00 - 15:49:06:10
Lisa: So I certainly want to ask you more about your sister Olivia in this interview indeed that's the focus of our conversation today but before I do that I wonder how you would maybe describe yourself as a child?
Soeren: Myself as a child, I want to say I was a pretty easy child. My mom says that now. I'm not sure with how much nostalgia but I was a big reader as a child but at the same time I sat around and watched cartoons. Played video games as a 5-6-7-8 year old, tried my hand at sports better for worse. I was not a star athlete but enjoyed playing soccer, playing other sports. I was a.... school was a big part of my life as a child as with today so that was a focus growing up. I really loved intellectual challenges, academic challenges, and had a good group of friends. Probably a smaller group of friends maybe than what other people had but never felt ostracized or isolated certainly from a social perspective.
15:49:06:25 - 15:50:19:00
Lisa: Do you have a favorite memory from your childhood?
Soeren: A favorite memory from my childhood; I... one of them certainly there are a lot of them but one of my favorite memories from my childhood was my dad played soccer at the University of Notre Dame. He was a very good soccer player and he coached my kid's soccer team. So we were 7-8-9 years old. You know barely able to lace up our cleats and he was out there trying to teach us how to play soccer and it was a great opportunity to spend time with my dad and to see him in a light that was different from at the dinner table or sitting around at home afterwards. It was a good opportunity to see him in an activity that he felt really confident in; that he was excited to bring to other young people. So that was... we played, he coached my soccer team probably 4-5 years and those were great years.
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About Soeren Palumbo
Born: 1988, Washington, DC
Graduate Student, University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wharton School. Co-founder, R Word: Spread the Word to End the Word
Best Buddies, Education/special education, R-word, Rosa's Law, Sibling, Special Olympics