Artem Maryanskyy, ‘23, Neha Mandhyani, ‘21G and Amy Hoover, ‘21, are first-generation students at Lehigh University. Each talk about their journey finding the school and their experiences since matriculating. (Courtesy of Artem Maryanskyy, Neha Mandhyani, and Amy Hoover)

First generation students share their Lehigh stories

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Each student’s path to get to Lehigh University is unique. However, there are similarities between each path that intertwine us all, creating the framework for collaboration and growth on campus and in the classrooms. One of the connecting threads for some students at Lehigh is being a first-generation college student. 

The Brown and White spoke with three first-generation Lehigh students to learn about their journeys to Lehigh and their experiences being the first in their respective families to attend college.  

Amy Hoover, ’21

Amy Hoover, ’21, a Scranton, Pennsylvania native, first learned about Lehigh through Upward Bound, a federally funded education program that helps students throughout their college entrance process. The program not only allowed her to learn about the college application process, but also provided suggestions for which school would be the best fit for her. One of the colleges on that list was Lehigh.

“I visited (Lehigh) because I visited all the schools close by that were on that list, and I just fell in love with the campus,” Hoover said.

Hoover was admitted through the College of Business, but decided to transfer into the College of Arts & Sciences to pursue a major in psychology early on. Throughout this time, she dealt with questions of belonging and imposter syndrome, which factored into her decision to switch colleges.

“It was a bit rocky to begin with, but then I found my place,” Hoover said. “I realized that, you know, I’m not that different and I do deserve to be here.”

Upon graduating, Hoover plans on taking a gap year before attending graduate school.

Reflecting on her overall experience at Lehigh, Hoover said that the school presents students with a wealth of opportunities. 

“I really appreciate what I got from Lehigh, especially as a first-generation student,” Hoover said. “I would definitely do it again.”

Artem Maryanskyy, ’23   

Arriving from Ukraine as a first-generation student, Artem Maryanskyy ’23 said the process he endured to attend an American university was difficult. One of the main hardships in his process was the number of tests he had to take to be able to apply to college

“I had to take English tests, I had to take all the tests that are required for U.S. colleges along with the tests that are required for graduation from Ukrainian high school,” Maranskyy said.

Maranskyy spent his freshman year in a preparation program at American University in Washington D.C., alongside other international students, which helped him to acclimate to the U.S. college system. After his first year, he transferred into Lehigh’s Computer Science and Business program.

Because of the pandemic, Maryanskyy is now dealing with a lot of uncertainty about his ability to continue studying at Lehigh due to the financial aid challenges that exist for international transfer students. 

“Hopefully I will be returning to Lehigh, but if I can’t get the aid, I won’t because unfortunately I can’t afford tuition right now,” Maryanskyy said.

Maryanskyy plans to return to Kiev, Ukraine for the summer and complete an internship at Ernst & Young.  

Neha Mandhyani, ‘21G

Neha Mandhyani’s, ‘21G, journey to Lehigh for graduate school was not linear.

Mandhyani attended Veer Narmad South Gujarat University for her undergraduate degree in biotechnology in 2013. She hoped to then go to a U.S. college to obtain a graduate degree. However, her undergraduate degree came in late, so her graduate education was pushed back to the spring of 2014, leaving an unexpected six month gap. 

Instead of attending graduate school in the U.S. immediately, she obtained a master’s degree from Bangalore University and got a job in clinical data management in 2015. While she was doing well in her position, she felt as if she was getting involved in a field that did not align with her career goals. Thus, her process to apply to graduate school in the U.S. began again.

“A friend of mine from school was studying at Lehigh,” Mandhyani said. “He showed me pictures and, you know how Lehigh looks, I was like, ‘Okay, wow, this looks awesome.’”

After first learning about the school, she applied, got accepted and started attending Lehigh in the fall of 2019.

Although a large portion of her time at Lehigh has been during the pandemic, she still found a lot of things to do during her time at the university.

“If everybody had access to everything, it would be exceptional,” Mandhyani said regarding her opportunities at Lehigh.

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