Graduation day — May 21, 2018 — seemed like an unattainable phenomenon as members of the class of 2018 followed colorful directional arrows on move-in day in August 2014 to pick up their orientation welcome packages and settle into their on-campus dorms.
Naive, nervous, jittery and eager energy lingered around campus as a new class of students filled buildings and classrooms — constantly buzzing to meet new peers and get familiarized with what seemed like an overwhelmingly large new home.
But as 2014 approached its end, 2015 flew by, 2016 and 2017 came and went, here we all stand in 2018 getting ready to accept an entirely new class of students and send off our oldest undergraduate comrades.
Saying farewell to the class of 2018 is not easy. A new, unplanned chapter is ahead of them. But even though this Lehigh chapter is coming to a close, its campus will continue to be a home away from home for those who made it the place it is today.
To the class of 2018: Remember the nuances of the Lehigh community. The 112 weeks spent in your classrooms, roaming around academic buildings. The 896 days of rain, snow, humidity and sunshine, spent settling in study nooks and crannies.
You can always return to the Lookout.
Appreciate the beauty of the city of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley. The Lookout is the one place on campus where feeling small can feel comforting — where you know you are one part of the whole, where you are able to conceptualize your life in comparison to the rest of the community. Here, it is okay to cry or to scream out to the valley below, because the valley will absorb your thoughts and exclamations and will continue to twinkle at night.
You can always return to the pedestrian walkway on the SteelStacks.
Known as the Hoover-Mason Trestle, the walkway opened several years ago as part of a preservation effort. It gives visitors the opportunity to witness the slow decay of a bygone era, rather than allowing it to age away, forgotten. In some ways, the trestle is reminiscent of New York City’s High Line, allowing visitors to walk between structures that made an important impact on the city’s development. In other ways, though, it is unique to Bethlehem and its history. It is easy to wander down the path, staring up in awe at the blast furnaces, wondering what Bethlehem Steel was like in its heyday.
You can always return to Bagel Basket.
While technically not on campus, Bagel Basket is a notorious spot. Most freshmen don’t know about the restaurant because it is on the other side of the Hill, so entry is unspokenly earned. Every weekend, usually on Saturday mornings, it is common to see students emerging from their packed cars after a five-minute drive through campus and up the mountain. Tired and giddy Lehigh students order and sit outside with friends, exchanging stories about the previous night. Hours go by at the deli, all while friends’ chatter turns into uncontrollable laughter. Bagel Basket means friendship. It means being young and carefree and having the freedom to just sit and enjoy time with best friends.
You can always return to the D&L Corridor.
Located just across the Lehigh River in North Bethlehem, the D&L Corridor connects Bethlehem to the entire Lehigh Valley and beyond — stretching a total of 165 miles. The trail is not just a means of travel but a place to take a break from studying and relax at the water’s edge or go for a run on a nice fall day. The SteelStacks are visible from across the water while trains hurry past the scene. Turtles and fish create ripples in the water while birds fly through the air. Apart from a few cyclists and runners, the trail is a place of peace and seclusion.
You can always return to the Drown balcony.
Made of smooth stone, the Drown balcony is a place where a small class will practice tai chi and meditation in their freshman seminar and four speedy years later, will finish their last ever day of undergraduate classes. It is on this balcony where anyone can look over Linderman Library, observe the Hogwarts-esque University Center and smell the sweet aroma of cherry blossoms and dandelions blooming around them. While the sunshine beats down on the Drown balcony, it is humbling to feel the overwhelming culmination of the past four years, as the warmth is soothing yet has the ability to send goosebumps spreading over your arms.
A day we once thought was so far away — May 21, 2018 — is now a swift three weeks in the future. As Lehigh graduates prepare to leave Bethlehem and begin their new lives beyond South Mountain, there is one thing that bonds them all together — whether it is a happy memory or a nostalgic place, one thing is for certain.
You can always return to Lehigh.