Lehigh alumni settle close to school after graduation


Lehigh students call Bethlehem their home for the four years spent in school, but some continue to call the Lehigh Valley home even after graduation.

There are more than 10,000 Lehigh alumni living in the Lehigh Valley out of approximately 70,000 total alumni, according to statistics provided by the Alumni Association. Specifically, there are 4,332 undergraduate alumni and 6,202 graduate alumni as part of the “home club,” or the alumni club for the Lehigh Valley.

“They run events for alumni who are in the Lehigh Valley,” said Tom Dowd, the associate director of Career and Professional Development. Dowd specializes in alumni career services. He offers webinars on various career topics, as well as individual career coaching, such as resume reviews or helping to evaluate job offers.

He said there are advantages to living in the Lehigh Valley, both in regards to being close to Lehigh and the area on its own.

“In terms of the area, you’re so close to a number of different things: New York, Philadelphia and there’s a lot in the Lehigh Valley in terms of companies and job opportunities,” he said. “You’re in a place where exciting things are happening at Lehigh. The Lehigh Valley is growing, but you’re also close to those major cities.”

Dowd also runs the alumni LinkedIn group. There are 4,902 alumni registered on LinkedIn living in the Lehigh Valley. LinkedIn also displays the top companies in the area at which registered Lehigh alumni work. The top company is Air Products with 200 registered Lehigh alumni employees.

Rounding out the top five companies is Northampton Community College (NCC) with 42 registered Lehigh employees. Jimil Ataman, ’14, works at NCC as the student life and leadership development administrator. Ataman is from near Boise, Idaho, but said she knew she wanted to stay in the Lehigh Valley after she graduated.

“There are people here I’m really close to,” she said. “Since I came from so far away I wanted to put down roots here and make a new home. It seemed ridiculous to leave when I really liked the area and people.”

Ataman said her favorite things to do in the Lehigh Valley are listen to local music, try new restaurants, especially in South Bethlehem, and go hiking in the area.

Conversely, Lauren Christman, ’13, ‘14G, grew up in Allentown and now works as an admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions. She was considering moving to various other places around the country after graduation, but also wanted to stay local, in her comfort zone and where her family lives, she said.

“It’s really nice to be able to live at home and save money,” she said. “It’s also nice, working in admissions, talking about the Lehigh Valley as a whole, not necessarily just Bethlehem.”

One disadvantage of staying in the Lehigh Valley, Christman said, is that she feels she hasn’t broken out of her comfort zone yet.

“The joke is that I need to get out more,” she said.

Christman enjoys trying new restaurants in the area and going to Iron Pigs baseball games.

Although he does not work here, Bryan Lin, ’13, also retained his ties with the university after graduating two years ago. He works as a project engineer at Industrial Technology Research in North Bethlehem where he interned as an undergraduate and knew he wanted to stay in the Lehigh Valley after graduation.

“I’ve been able to stay connected with my friends and colleagues at Lehigh,” he said.

Lin received degrees in both mechanical engineering and music as an undergraduate and, by living in the area, was able to continue to maintain involvement in music at Lehigh.

Lin said although he loves to live in a “college town” and a lot of his friends are still nearby, he does look forward to moving at some point.

“Six years in the same place is a long time,” he said. “It will be time to move on, eventually.”

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