While most members of the class of 2018 prepare for graduation and the next chapter of their lives, some of their peers have already left campus. Several class of 2018 students graduated after the fall 2017 semester to begin their professional lives a semester early.
Madison Schenker, ’18, began her first year at Lehigh with sophomore standing after enrolling in the university with 36 credits. She said her credits gave her flexibility with classes she took.
Schenker planned to stay at school for a full four years until last summer, when she decided to change her career path. She graduated after completing her seventh semester.
“I wanted to look for an internship or something for this semester instead of continuing to take classes, just because I decided to make such a drastic change,” Schenker said.
After earning her degree in bioengineering, Schenker landed a job at Chubb Insurance, in line with her new career goal of becoming an actuary.
Though Schenker was ultimately not passionate about her major, Sara Lampert, ’18, always knew she would pursue psychology.
“There were many reasons (I graduated early),” Lampert said. “The main one was that I was pretty close to graduating in three years and, in my last semester, I was part-time anyway. So it didn’t make sense just to spend the money on an extra semester when I was so far ahead.”
Since graduating Lehigh, Lampert has worked on different research studies to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She said she is enjoying her life after college and the feeling of being a real adult.
Lampert decided not to walk at graduation with the rest of her class.
“Every person who’s there is going to be experiencing all these feelings of being frightened of moving on and being excited about moving on and being worried about missing their friends,” Lampert said, “and that is something that I experienced several months ago when I left.”
Another early graduate, Ashley Kim, ’18, stayed on campus. She has an internship at Accelerator CC, a startup based in Bethlehem, through Lehigh’s Mountaintop program. She has been putting her computer science and business degree to use as a software development intern.
The early graduates said they miss various aspects of life at Lehigh. Schenker misses the feel of a college environment and being in such close proximity to her friends. Lampert said she misses the beauty of Lehigh’s campus.
“I miss having forced interaction with your peers, almost, because now at the startup that I work at (there are) three other people and they’re much older than I am, so that’s the only interaction that I have for like five hours of the day,” Kim said.
The three are happy with their decisions to graduate early, though it is still bittersweet.
“I definitely don’t regret my decision to leave, but I also could see myself very happy staying,” Schenker said.
Lampert has stayed in contact with friends who are graduating in May. She said they are nervous about graduating, but she offers them advice.
“I just feel like it’s so exciting becoming an adult,” Lampert said. “Maybe that’s just me, but I just feel like people should be excited and empowered by it, and not scared.”