Student organizations prepare for a more diversified campus


Lehigh’s student body will see an increase in first-generation and international students because of Path to Prominence initiatives. Clubs and organizations that work with these student groups are working to accommodate a more diversified campus.

Casey Urban, ’19, co-president of LU Diplomats, and vice president Winnie Gu, ’19, said they expect more work for their club as more international students apply and come to Lehigh.

LU Diplomats works alongside the admissions office to recruit and serve as a resource for potential and current international students. The club’s outreach committee emails admitted students and answers any questions they might have about the Lehigh experience. The Skype interview committee conducts interviews with potential students and submits write-up forms to the admissions office.

“As we get more and more international students, hopefully more will want to join in on (LU Diplomats) and then just build more of a community (with each other),” Urban said.

Kevin Ly, ’19, the founder of F1RST, a club that provides social, academic and professional support for first-generation students, said he has a lot of respect for Lehigh’s efforts to welcome more first-generation students to campus.

“It’s a way of Lehigh saying that we want to have a more inclusive community and that education is accessible for everyone, and not just exclusively students who have come from generations of Lehigh alumni, or just general college graduates,” Ly said. “It’s opening doors, and making sure that education is possible for anyone and everyone.”

F1RST members are working on a project called the “thrive guide,” which provides information about financial aid and the Bursar’s Office and tips on how to deal with various potential problems.

“It’s a way for first-generation students to get acclimated to the Lehigh environment,” Ly said.

F1RST is also coordinating an event in April in order to welcome more first-generation students to Lehigh.

Yasmin Cortes, ’20, the community coordinator for first-generation housing, works as a liaison between a hall of first-generation students in Drinker and their Gryphon.

Cortes provides first-generation students with information about financial aid and career services and helps them set up meetings with people in these offices.

“A lot of (first-generation students) have questions about what kind of housing they can do, and who they can live with,” Cortes said. “I think that’s where we come into play, since we are upperclassmen we can give them information that they otherwise wouldn’t know what to get, or how to get.”

Cortes said the hall she works with is home to about 16 students, with an even split between women and men. Two to three times a semester, Cortes coordinates a meet-up with the halls in Drinker to bring the community closer and provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about their futures at Lehigh.

This is the first year Lehigh implemented Cortes’ position. Cortes said with the new Path to Prominence initiatives, she can see more students getting involved with her work as the responsibilities grow.  

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1 Comment

  1. lance johnson on

    Congrats to the Diplomats because being an international student away from home is difficult, compounded by our complex culture and language problems. Welcoming and assimilation assistance must come from numerous sources, including the White House, to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and even informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation.
    Something that might help anyone coming to the US is the award-winning worldwide book/ebook “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” Used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it identifies how “foreigners” have become successful in the US, including students.
    It explains how to cope with a confusing new culture and friendship process, and daunting classroom differences. It explains how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also identifies the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Good luck to all at Lehigh or wherever you study or wherever you come from, because that is the TRUE spirit of the American PEOPLE, not a few in government who shout the loudest!

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