After spending nearly four years at Lehigh University, seniors are bound to have a few tips and tricks about campus life and involvement. This advice can help younger students navigate the undergraduate experience.
Since Lehigh has many resources and opportunities, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the right fit for each student.
To help students have an idea of campus offerings, The Brown and White spoke to some members of the senior class to discuss which organizations they belong to, how they got involved and how students can go about finding what suits them.
Student: Nicholas Thomson, ‘20
Organization: Admissions Fellow
Thomson is an Admissions Fellow and one of the two senior student coordinators for the tour program.
As an Admissions Fellow, Thomson assists in interviewing prospective Lehigh students a few times a week. As a co-coordinator of the tour program, he acts as an intermediary between the Admissions department and tour guides by managing schedules, setting groups and rerouting tours to better improve the experience.
Thomson said one of the first things he did when he came to campus was try to figure out how to become a tour guide. He has now been a tour guide since he was a first-year, and he became an Admissions Fellow this semester.
“I found myself loving the experience I was having here, and I wanted to have a way to convey that to people who are deciding where to come to school,” Thomson said.
To become a tour guide, students must complete an application and interview process. In order to become an Admissions Fellow, students must first work in the Admissions department.
Thomson recalls the impact his tour guide had on his decision to come to Lehigh and hopes he can have that same impact for at least one student.
Student: Vincent Albanese, ‘20
Organizations: Interfraternity Council and Theta Chi fraternity
Albanese joined Theta Chi in spring 2017, which placed him as a general member in the Interfraternity Council (IFC).
He became the president of his Theta Chi chapter in November 2017, and he later ran for and won the position of IFC president for the 2019-2020 academic year.
In order to be qualified for IFC president, the applicant must be a general member of the IFC—meaning he must first belong to a chapter under IFC.
Albanese said one thing he enjoys is the camaraderie he formed with his brothers and IFC colleagues, and the ability the positions gave him to branch out and interact with different people.
Joining a fraternity can be a daunting decision for underclassmen, and there are often many factors, such as student perception of Greek life, personal interests and social and familial influence, for students to consider.
“There’s 21 people in my pledge class,” Albanese said, “To me, that’s 21 weddings that I’ll end up going to and twenty-one children that I will get to see grow up.”
Albanese recommends students give Greek life a try and do their best to find the organization they share common interests with.
Albanese said he decided to run for IFC president because he recognized the stigma attached to Greek life and wanted to work to change that image.
“A lot of people might be coming into college at this point with social media and the news, (with a) misconstrued idea of what Greek life is,” Albanese said. “At the end of the day, we’re still normal college kids who just happen to wear letters. Don’t just shy away.”
Student: Nia Nesfield, ‘20
Organizations: Community Service Office and Zeta Tau Alpha
Nesfield is a student coordinator in the Community Service Office.
She has participated in this organization since her freshman year at Lehigh.
She was inspired to join the Community Service Office by the passion she had developed for community service in high school.
But, how does community service impact the undergraduate experience?
“I got to be introduced to a lot of Lehigh students and South Bethlehem residents, which allows me to get a deeper feeling and understanding of the communities that I have been a part of for the past four years,” Nesfield said.
Community service can help Lehigh students form deeper connections with the residents of South Bethlehem and help to bridge the gap between the university and the South Side.
To get involved with community service, students can sign up for some of the service events offered by the Community Service Office.
Nesfield suggests just going out and giving things a try.
“Looking back at my four years, sometimes I wish I didn’t get bogged down with the organizations that I did join in a way where I didn’t attend other events, because I wasn’t a part of that organization,” Nesfield said. “But, when you see all the fliers around campus, those are events that everyone is welcomed to, so I would push for people to go to those.”
Student: Charlie Williams, ‘20
Organizations: Student Senate and Men’s rowing team
Williams is currently the vice president of internal affairs for Student Senate and a member of the Lehigh men’s rowing team. He has been involved in the Senate since his sophomore year and has been a member of the rowing team since freshman year.
Williams participated in rowing in high school and talked to a member of Lehigh’s team during the club fair his first year. After that meeting, he decided to give the team a try and has stuck with it.
It was through rowing that Williams was introduced to Senate. Williams’ coach had encouraged members to participate in a newly-created constituency focused on athletes, which was a challenge Williams accepted.
“If you never feed your ambitions or take on new challenges, you can never know what breadth of opportunities you can take on,” Williams said.
Senate offered an interpersonal challenge based on problem-solving with real people, Williams said. This proved to be different from the physically-oriented challenges of rowing.
Williams said training doesn’t end once he leaves practice—he has to manage his recovery, stretch and eat correctly.
And yet, with the demands of being a student athlete, Williams has held three positions in his time on Senate—senator, chairman of facilities and services, and vice president of internal affairs.
“I definitely, fully and totally recommend that people join some sort of organization,” Williams said. “Particularly a challenging one, something where they can grow and develop among peers.”
Student: Amanda Ferrante, ‘20
Organization: Office of First-Year Experience
Ferrante is an orientation leader and a coordinator for the Office of First-Year Experience.
Orientation leaders aid in the transition of first-year students or transfer students to Lehigh, and orientation coordinators help recruit and train orientation leaders.
To become an orientation leader or coordinator, students must complete an application and participate in an interview.
Ferrante was an orientation leader her sophomore year, then took on the role of orientation coordinator during her junior and senior years.
“Making the first-year transition, both academically and socially, is something everyone can speak to, because it is not an easy transition and the community you meet is incredible,” Ferrante said. “I met my best friends through orientation.”
Ferrante was having a hard time finding the right group during her first-year on campus, and she said her Gryphon recommended that she apply to be an orientation leader.
And in this, Ferrante found a true passion—making sure first-year students are comfortable on campus.
“Apply and be yourself in the application,” she said. “It’s the most incredible experience that I’ve had, and my favorite part of my college experience.”
While all these seniors are in different organizations across campus, they all attest there are many different options for students to get involved on campus—students just have to go out, try new things and find the right fit.