For this year’s Martindale Student Associates Honors Program, 12 juniors and seniors will participate in a fully immersive academic and cultural experience in Denmark.
The program runs across all the undergraduate colleges, providing students with a fully-funded study experience which includes faculty and alumni mentorship, an immersive research trip abroad and the opportunity to become a published author before graduation.
Trisha Alexy, program manager at the Martindale Center, said the main goal of the program is for the Honors students to develop research and writing skills needed to write a professional grade academic article. Students will write this article on a topic pertaining to the society, economy and public policy of the country for publication, becoming a published author by the time they graduate.
Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or above are invited to apply, Alexy said, and then 24 are selected for interviews from those applications. The final 12 participants are reviewed by the faculty advisors and chosen in a group meeting.
“When we decided on the country, we were reviewing COVID protocols in countries and found that Denmark was one of the most vaccinated countries in the world at the time,” Alexy said.
After the Omicron variant began spreading, they moved the usual trip time from May to August to ensure students would be able to go overseas.
According to Alexy, to prepare for the trip this semester, students have weekly meetings focusing on different topics related to Denmark like its governmental structure and healthcare system. This is done to prepare the students to write a research paper about a topic of interest in Denmark.
“The reason we’re giving these broad-stroke sessions on Denmark is so the students have an opportunity to review all of the different topics,” Alexy said. “The main goal of the program is for the students to write a journal article about anything they decide.”
Alexis Soulias, ‘23, one of the students in the honors program this year, said the Denmark Martindale cohort gets to speak with government officials and business executives from Denmark during the weekly meetings.
Soulias said she is most excited to experience the new culture and professional network.
Soulias is studying computer engineering and business at Lehigh. Through the program, she said she’s looking forward to exploring new areas of study.
“I really like that it was so open, and I personally don’t know anything about Denmark, but that’s the whole point of this,” Soulias said. “I get to learn and research, and I get to write about something that’s outside of my major.”
Once the students return from Denmark at the beginning of the fall semester, they will enroll in a three-credit course to write and research their journal article, Alexy said. In addition to the course, students will have meetings with a faculty mentor to track their writing progress.
Another student welcomed to the honors program this year, Emma Chiusano, ‘23, was convinced to apply after talking with a student in last year’s Martindale cohort.
“It’s an opportunity to grow and put yourself in a position where you are comfortable around important people,” Chiusano said.
Chiusano is an IDEAS major focused on biocomputational engineering and health, medicine and society. She said she is looking forward to experiencing the professional aspects of the program in Denmark and their preparation for the trip.
Both Chiusano and Soulias said they were excited to get to know the other students in the program better as well.
“It’s a really nice mix of getting to meet people that are in my class year that I’ve never met before and also just forming closer connections to people that I’ve seen around in some of the larger lectures that I’ve had,” Soulias said.
Alexy said the Martindale Student Associates Honors Program serves as a commitment to supporting each others’ career paths through events and mentorship that continue after students graduate from Lehigh.
“This is a lifelong experience,” Alexy said. “Even though the students graduate, we have alumni from the last 40 years that are still extremely active in Martindale.”