Talking about myself is something that has never come naturally to me.
I know many people say that, but I’m not sure they actually mean it. I do. I’m usually much more interested in learning about someone else, and I find that I enjoy asking other people questions more than I like making myself vulnerable and opening up.
In conversations, I often find myself never quite sure when to chime in with a relevant story of my own or when to make it known if I disagree with something someone said. But don’t mistake my deflection as me having nothing to say or having no opinions about this modern world we find ourselves in.
My experience with The Brown and White has defined my time at Lehigh. The two are one and the same for me. It’s allowed me to thread that needle between not knowing exactly how to talk about myself while remaining active and engaged in our community.
I’ve led an award-winning investigative team, I’ve reported on Lehigh’s investments in fossil fuels, I’ve covered issues in Bethlehem, I’ve been here for the infamous “housing crisis,” I’ve spoken with rural Northampton County voters about the 2020 election and I can say I’ve covered the president of the United States. I’ve been here for the sudden resignation of Lehigh’s president, bore witness to protests on campus and asked administrators hard questions about the future of Lehigh under its Path to Prominence plan.
If along this journey we’ve personally spoken about the issues of the day in our community, you know I do this because I care. I profoundly care — about the happiness and wellbeing of the individuals at Lehigh, about our friends on the South Side, about how to better this campus as a collective institution, about sticking up for those without a voice.
I’ve often been asked if being so invested in the work of The Brown and White has made me jaded. Is it possible I actually know too much? Shouldn’t I be partially aloof through college, still naive and innocent before the “real world” gets to me?
If there’s one thing for sure, Lehigh has given me a damn strong BS detector.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Through it all, it’s the people here that make this place what it is. It’s the people here that make this place special. It’s the people here that remain mostly uncorrupted by whatever mess the administration is scrambling to clean up at that given period of time. It’s the people here that make this place a home.
So yes, I will miss Lehigh.
I mean, who doesn’t love one of those classic late night conversations with friends at the Lehigh Lookout after a long week?
What would college be without the excitement and energy of the day-long Le-Laf game, meeting up with friends at the pre-game tailgate and jumping up and down after a Mountain Hawk touchdown?
Yes, I know I wouldn’t trade those moments dancing to the best song and laughing with friends in a crowded, sweaty, dark off-campus basement. Or heading to breakfast the next morning and running into more friends — my people — and stopping to hug them while sliding into my booth to squish in and make a little extra room.
And of course I will never forget those late nights in the newsroom, all of my favorite people working long hard hours together to put together a paper we can all be proud of.
Everything stopped in those moments. Everything was perfect in those moments.
Those moments happened here.
Soon, those memories will crystallize into ‘Remember when we did….’ stories — tales to be told, made for reminiscing with all the emotion still attached, evidence for the glory days.
The uncontrollable laughter. The inside jokes that last for years. The photos, both real and those etched in our minds — arguably the better ones, since we either didn’t have time or didn’t feel the need to pull out our iPhones and say, “Smile.”
With all the frustration associated with the uncertainty of today, we still have that. I still have that. I still have my people and the memories we made together — my proof of a life lived. And when it comes to journalism, that proof of life comes in the form of clippings and bylines — evidence for interviews, research and writing, but more broadly, evidence for my pursuit of truth and accountability, something that so many people these days try to escape from.
At Lehigh, I found my voice.
So while my last semester as a student at Lehigh went nowhere near as planned, I take comfort in knowing it’s my people that made this place for me.
And no pandemic or president can take that away.