A table is set for an Association of Student Alumni dinner club event at the home of an alum. ASA hosts dinner clubs to connect local alumni to current Lehigh students. (Courtesy of Kayla Jang)

ASA to host dinner club at President Simon’s house

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For its first dinner club of the semester, the Association of Student Alumni is hosting a dinner at President John Simon’s house.

Lehigh’s ASA will hold it at the president’s house in order to connect current club members and alumni on Thursday.

Local alumni have previously hosted “dinner clubs” in their homes or restaurants. However, this semester ASA chose to host a dinner on campus to kick off the new semester and get more local alumni to attend. Up to a dozen dinner clubs can take place each semester.

Alumni are interested in hosting these dinners because they want to give back to the university, said Caitlin Saunders, an associate director of the Lehigh Fund and adviser to ASA. The dinner clubs are a way for alumni to stay involved and encourage students to carry on Lehigh traditions, she said.

The dinners began in 2007 so students and alumni could discuss their Lehigh experiences. The dinner clubs have no formal structure or agenda — they are simply ways for alumni and students to mingle and enjoy refreshments which enables everyone to interact easily, Saunders said. They tend to discuss campus life and their individual experiences. Alumni often offer career advice and help students prepare for life after Lehigh.

“One of Lehigh’s great assets is its alumni network,” Saunders said. “We want to connect students with this network early so they can see how passionate and involved they can remain when they graduate.”

Paige Hapeman, ’19, the alumni relations chair of ASA, said the dinner clubs are just as important and informational for students as they are for the alumni.

“When alumni invite the members of ASA into their home, students can see just how much a Lehigh education pays off,” Hapeman said. “It is nice to see successful alumni and fun to meet their families.”

Saunders said interacting with students allows alumni to still feel a part of the Lehigh family.

Saunders is overseeing the upcoming dinner in Simon’s home, which was rescheduled to Thursday due to Winter Storm Niko. Saunders’ favorite part of dinner clubs is learning how Lehigh has changed through the years.

Jill Anderson, ’91, is a Lehigh alumna who was a senior director of outreach, traditional, student and young alumni programs. She believes it is important to volunteer and continue involvement at Lehigh even after graduation.

“What we have received from Lehigh we will never be able to repay,” Anderson said. “The education, the experience and the network of alumni, family and friends is worth so much more than we pay in tuition.”

Last year, ASA asked Anderson to host a dinner at her home. Anderson said she happily accepted the offer and now does everything she can to give back to the university whenever given the opportunity.

Anderson said Lehigh alumni always find one another because the bonds formed at Lehigh are unbreakable and truly special because students are growing, maturing and trying to navigate the real world together. Anderson said she is excited to attend the dinner at the president’s house Thursday.

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