Thursday, May 13, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 9

By Avi Lessner, '10, Delta Tau Delta

My Lehigh career has been more than incredible. This is due in large part to the Greek system. My experiences in Greek life have been extraordinarily memorable. Coming to Lehigh as a freshman I had no concept of Greek life. My freshman year roommate, who has turned out to be my pledge brother and is still my housemate, convinced me to trek up the Hill. What I found was a system with an incredible amount of diverse perspectives, students of every background and a general feeling of welcoming to every chapter. My freshman Greek experience could not have been better and becoming involved is certainly one of the best decisions I have made in college.

From then on in I became more involved in the system, becoming my Fraternity President and then a Vice President of the Inter-Fraternity Council. These leadership positions helped me grow tremendously as a person and create bonds that I am sure will last for a very long time. While my involvement at Lehigh has not solely been Greek, it has in many cases been my Greek brothers and sisters that have pushed me to excel in a variety of areas and the common link we share as a community has empowered us to do great things both on and off of Lehigh's campus.

Looking back it is almost impossible to take it all in and appreciate how much I have gained but I am sure that my life has been more that significantly impacted by my Greek experience and I am elated to say I am a Lehigh Greek alumnus.

Senior Reflections - Part 8

By Becca Raphael, '10, Gamma Phi Beta
(top row, 3rd from the left - with 09/10 Panhellenic exec)

On August 24, 2006 I wore a white and navy polo shirt, jean shorts and Rainbow flip-flops. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my mom had made me for lunch and I wore my hair in a half-ponytail. I can remember these details because it feels as though today is August 25 and just yesterday, my parents moved me into my first dorm room at Lehigh. The last four years have gone by so quickly that they hardly feel like they ever happened at all. It’s as though I woke up after my first day of Freshman Orientation and the whole experience was over. In what feels like a few short hours, I’ve made a ton of memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life and owe a lot of them to being a part of Lehigh’s Greek life.

I came to college knowing for sure that I would join a sorority. With a middle-sized student body, I knew it was the best option for me to make a solid group of friends and to hopefully find my niche at Lehigh. After meeting a slew of sorority girls my first semester, I began the recruitment process already having an idea of which chapter I’d like to join. What I think is so great about Lehigh’s recruitment process is that it gives you ample amount of time to get to know the sororities and for them to get to know you, rather than coming to school in the middle of August and receiving a bid from a house that selected you based on fake premises. I joined Gamma Phi Beta after the recruitment process without any regrets. I am graduating in just a week, and while I am leaving the school behind, I am not leaving any friends behind—my friends have really become my family.

While yes, I’ve enjoyed the date parties, the Greek Weeks and the permanent sleepovers with my best friends, the most important thing I’ve taken from this whole experience is my own self discovery. If there is anything I can tell to an incoming student about taking advantage of the Greek system here at Lehigh, it’s to never hold back. Find a leadership position within the chapter and pursue it without hesitation. As a new member, I became the Jr. Panhellenic delegate and saw potential for myself in this realm. I became Gamma Phi’s Panhel Delegate during my sophomore and junior year which led me to my position on Panhel’s executive board my senior year. I have no regrets for pursuing positions as a part of the larger community, and because of it, I’ve made friends outside of my house.

Coming to Lehigh was the best decision I’ve ever made, and joining a sorority is what made my experience here so amazing. So, to anyone on the fence about the whole recruitment process, I hope you jump to the Greek side. I can guarantee your experiences will rival anything else.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 7

By Dana Giallonardo, '10, Gamma Phi Beta

I’m sitting at my desk in the off-campus house I share with five other Gamma Phi Beta seniors and I’m thinking. I’m graduating in less than a month. What have I learned? What do I know? And what do I have to show for it?

As a journalism major, I know how to write an article. I know how to edit your paper. As a writing and communications minor, I could write you a fairy tale or a poem. I could tailor a public relations plan for your company. I’ve been in an A Cappella group for four years. I’ve been an editor of the Brown and White. I’ve been a Big Sister to a little girl at a Bethlehem elementary school. I’ve made the Dean’s List, I’ve volunteered my time, and I’ve learned the art of time management. All valuable. I’ve packed my “future suitcase” tight with knowledge and work ethic and social skills.

But, above anything else, what I’ve really learned over the past four years are the lessons that I’ve learned about myself. I attribute a vast majority of these lessons to having been involved in Greek life at Lehigh.

When I came to Lehigh as a freshman I knew I was a smart person. I knew that I was skilled in the social arena, I was athletic, and talented, and creative. I knew that I had excelled in high school and was ready to excel as a college student – whatever that meant.

Joining a sorority was a no-brainer. From the beginning of sorority recruitment, I knew that Gamma Phi Beta was where I was meant to be. I had known girls already in Gamma Phi and they, along with the girls I kept seeing come back along with me, would soon become my Lehigh family.

I would eventually spend the next two years living in the sorority house. I would be elected assistant to the New Member Educator as a sophomore. I would be elected President as a junior. I would attend the International Gamma Phi Beta Convention. I would deal with both older and younger members on a day-to-day basis. I would learn how to balance my social and academic lives. I would be forced to deal with the conflict and controversy that sometimes occurs when fifty women live together. I would learn to live by my own value system, which was reinforced not only by the values of my sorority, but by the women who were members alongside of me.

Being in a sorority has put me in situations unlike any other. It is through these types of situations that I have learned how to manage my likes, my dislikes, my personality traits, the types of things that really make me tick and the types of things that really don’t make me tick. I have discovered the kind of the woman I am becoming and the woman I am meant to be. This intuitiveness reaches far beyond the realm of surface realizations, but has allowed me to really reach inside of myself and open the door to a life of personal fulfillment and happiness.

When I look back, I can honestly say that this has been the most fun four years I have ever had in my entire life. I can also say that I’ve met the most amazing people and have garnered friendships that I know will continue on well past these college days. But what I know, what I really know, is me, and that Gamma Phi Beta certainly played a part in this knowledge. That is the most important thing I could have ever learned in college.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 6

By Eurie Choi, '10, Alpha Gamma Delta

Four not-so-short years ago I was a senior in high school and knew that I was going to Lehigh University in the fall. Being clueless about the Greek system in general, I didn’t know what to tell all of the people who congratulated me and then asked me if I was going to join a sorority at Lehigh. I had no idea what a sorority was beyond the stereotypical movie-esque Greek house, let alone if I wanted to join one. So I let it stew in the back of my mind and came to Lehigh in the fall. Amidst the freshmen orientation and new friend making frenzy we were all in, I began noticing the Greek letters and advertised events for something called “sorority recruitment” (a term which I know well now, but had no idea of back then). Right before the deadline, I decided to sign up for recruitment, went through the blurry five days of endless small talk and conversations, and found myself with a bid to Alpha Gamma Delta.

I could not have asked for a better thing to happen to me. Being a part of Alpha Gam has been an incredibly rewarding and stimulating experience for me. It got me involved in so many ways across campus from joining different organizations to meeting a plethora of people – and, especially, making some of the best friends I’ve ever had. The women I met in Alpha Gam have been there for me through thick and thin and, with my graduation date approaching faster and faster and my nerves flying along with it, I know for certain that even though my Lehigh career is ending, at least these friendships will be long-lasting. They have truly helped to make my Greek and Lehigh experiences remarkable and truly life-changing.

However, joining Alpha Gam is only half of what has made my Lehigh Greek experience what it was. At the beginning of my junior year I applied to be on the Panhellenic Council and served as a chair to the board. This was the first time in my sorority career that I got to step out of my own chapter and act as a voice for the entire sorority community here at Lehigh. I had friends in other sororities, but this was the first time that I worked with women with different Greek letters and saw them beyond their letters. It was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to truly see the Lehigh Greek Community as a whole community instead of thirty or so individual chapters.

I won’t lie – the Greek pride in me swelled a bit at this point and with my growing appreciation for the Greeks on our campus and what we are all capable of doing here, I ran for and got elected to the Panhellenic Council for my senior year. This past year has been, by far, the most rewarding with friendships, accomplishments, and a general pride for our Greek Community. I truly believe that our Panhellenic Council along with IFC and MGC have made great efforts and strides in uniting our Greek community and showing Lehigh what we’re capable of accomplishing when we all work together. I’m incredibly excited to come back and visit in the coming years to see the progress that I know the community will be making.

So I’m still not entirely sure what convinced me to join a sorority back when I was a freshman. It might have been my hall mates. Or perhaps the great advertising of Panhel. Or maybe it was all of those people back home who asked me about it in high school. But whatever the reason was, I am incredibly thankful that I did because joining Alpha Gam and thus becoming a member of the Lehigh Greek Community was by far one of the greatest decisions of my life.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 5

By Jaclyn Weissman, '10, Alpha Phi

Many students at Lehigh choose to join Greek life after a full semester of witnessing all of the positive aspects it offers - strong friendships, leadership opportunities and social advantages – but my reason for joining was different than most.

I began my freshman year at Muhlenberg only 20 minutes away from my older sister who was a student at Lehigh and a junior in Alpha Phi. I had visited her many times before and had always loved the college atmosphere that Lehigh had to offer but had originally planned to study dance and theater, which Lehigh doesn’t specialize in. Before spending much time at Muhlenberg I began to realize that the extremely small class size was not going to provide the college experience I wanted, nor allow me to reach the full potential and gain influencing experiences that I believed I could during my four undergraduate years. The disappointment of beginning at a college that I felt unattached to, coupled by the fact that I had began to grow interests in new and different fields of study, left me looking for a change.

Only a few weeks into school I began visiting my sister regularly at Lehigh and spending time with many of her friends in Alpha Phi. I became increasingly close with them and it wasn’t long before they had convinced me to apply to Lehigh mid-year and join Alpha Phi as soon as I arrived in January. To be honest, I didn’t decide to transfer because of my sister, as close as I was with her, but rather because of her close-knit group of friends. I was jealous of their relationships and how they were fun, had a great sense of humor in open honesty, and closeness that allowed them to raid each other’s closets for clothes to every occasion. I wanted to study at Lehigh and have friends with the same group dynamic that my sister had. When I finally received my acceptance letter shortly after Thanksgiving there was no question that I would attend Lehigh and follow in the footsteps of my sister in Alpha Phi.

Without rambling on I will say this – being a part of Greek life has significantly enhanced my college experience and I can’t imagine having found the close friendships that have resulted from being a part of it in any other way. It has provided me with a network of girls that will be my close friends for the rest of my life. To add, many of the positions that I’ve held in Alpha Phi, including co-recruitment chair my junior year, have helped me to develop my leadership skills and confidence. This year I served as VP Communications on the Panhellenic Council and formed strong friendships with girls in many other chapters as well. I believe that my experience goes against all of the negative stereotypes that surround fraternities and sororities, and I’m lucky to have had such a positively influential experience during my college years.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sorority Expansion

The Lehigh University Panhellenic Council is very excited about the opportunity to add another chapter to the sorority community. It has been 13 years since the addition of our last chapter, Pi Beta Phi. Since switching over to the Priority Recruitment Method, Lehigh has seen a record number of interest, retention rates and the number of women being placed. OFSA has properly notified the NPC Extension Committee of the vote to move forward and exploration visits will begin this summer. The official bulletin was released on Wednesday, April 28th. Lehigh's new NPC sorority will be notified later in the fall semester and will prepare to participate in formal recruitment in the spring 2011 semester.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 4

By Nathalie Martin, '10, Lambda Theta Alpha

When I first started my undergraduate career, I had a plan: get a degree in Biology, get a PhD, and do brilliant lab research for the rest of my life. Joining a sorority had absolutely no place in this plan. If I could go back in time and give myself some solid advice, it would be to shut up and quit pretending that you can make a life trajectory for yourself at 17 years old. One of the most important lessons I learned at Lehigh was not that I am terrible at Organic Chemistry, but that the best opportunities come along when you kick the plan aside and let life happen. When I finally figured that out, I changed my major a couple times, traveled way outside of my comfort zone to make new friends, and became a founding sister of the Delta Upsilon chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.

My junior year, I moved in with two women who were part of the LTA interest group. A couple months later, Gabriela Saade, who is now my line sister, best friend, and mentor, asked me to join the interest group. LTA was one of the most inspiring organizations I had ever come across. The principles of Unity, Love, and Respect were carried out by every sister I met, and the organization’s passion for community service and strong sisterhood were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. And even though I am not Latina, I had a strong desire to give women a different option for Greek life. For all these reasons, I became a sister of LTA by the end of the Spring 2008 semester, and I haven’t looked back since.

The new member education process allowed me to discover my strengths and acquire a strong sense of self-respect. I met four women who, aside from my mother, have been the most influential and unwavering sources of friendship in my life. My four line sisters, Stephanie Huiza, Gaby Saade, Diana Camejo, and Brittany Lewis, have taught me more about myself than I could possibly imagine. Together, we built the foundation of our chapter. We poured our hearts, energy, and way too many study hours into making our vision a reality. With five members, extremely limited funding, no alumni support, and no sisters within a 60 mile radius, we built strong relationships with Lehigh Greeks, clubs, and administrators, and sponsored entirely too many events. Through this long, difficult process, my sisters taught me how to become a better leader, how to be honest with both them and myself, and how to accept people for who they are. Because of this, my constant focus on people’s negative attributes turned into a never-ending fascination with people who have strengths so different from my own. To me, what it came down to was that differences in leadership styles, beliefs, and personalities are what make an organization stronger. When a group has so many different strengths at their disposal, what is the point of focusing on an individual’s weakness?

If you had told me five years ago that this is the kind of person I would become, I would have told you that you’re out of your mind. Back then, I had no idea I actually disliked science, had natural leadership skills, and had the ability to not be so judgmental. Five years ago, I hated Lehigh. Today, I am overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of leaving this place behind. In the past year, I’ve had the privilege of being the chapter president of LTA and watch our chapter flourish in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I am so proud of our accomplishments, and I truly hope that the community has benefitted from our strong presence on campus. Today, I can walk away with the certainty that LTA, members of the mainstream and multicultural Greek community, my friends, Lehigh administrators, and professors have given me the tools to take on any challenge thrown my way. To the students lucky enough to remain in this safe haven a little while longer, I leave you with one piece of advice: don’t leave here with any regrets. Push your limits, stay open to new experiences, and never be afraid to make mistakes. That way, when you finally do reach graduation day, you can be sure you’re walking away with more than just a diploma

Monday, May 3, 2010

Senior Reflections - Part 3

By Walter Joseph, '10, Lambda Chi Alpha

When I reminisce on my undergraduate years, it is often quite difficult to recall all of the Date Parties, trips to Philly for Pat’s Cheesesteaks, plunges into the Lehigh Valley River at the Rope Swing, late night adventures at Pantry 1, or mosh-pits to Steppenwolf’s ‘Magic Carpet Ride.’ Yet, despite the haziness in this whirlwind of memories, one thing never ceases to remain a vivid, indelible part of my Lehigh career – the people who I have shared those memories with.

My involvement in Lambda Chi Alpha has provided me with the best friends I could have ever asked for. Growing up a middle child surrounded by two sisters, I always yearned for a brother figure to toss around a ball with or get birthday punches from. Now, on the brink of college graduation, I can say with confidence and conviction that I have 65 other brothers who have had a profound impact on my undergraduate career at Lehigh, and moreover, on my growth as a person. These guys will be the ones who will stand beside me at my wedding, hit the golf course even when our knees grow stiff, and will be there when I need them most. Their support is unwavering – I have never known and been a part of a group of friends so dedicated to each other and so selfless to one another.

Fraternity life has taught me the importance of accountability and responsibility – two valuable lessons that college students often neglect to truly understand. Whether it may be showing concern for a brother whose grades were dropping, or fining a brother for damaging our house, we all look out for one another and hold each other accountable for our actions. Just like a true brother would. Just like a family would.

For the current Greek students who are fortunate to have some time left at Lehigh: I implore you to make the most of your experience – words cannot describe how fast the time here goes. Make a difference in your chapter, and inspire change. Do not settle for the status quo. Help your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters when they need it – there will be a time when you’ll need it, too. Yet, most of all, do not lose touch with those people who have been so instrumental in the your development – and your successes.

Student Life Leadership Awards

Lehigh Greek students were represented well at Lehigh Unviersity's 25th annual Student Life Leadership Awards Celebration held on Thursday, April 29 on the UC Front Lawn.

Congratulations to the following:

Student Life Leadership Award
This award is given to seniors in recognition of extraordinary performance as a student leader at Lehigh University. The following areas are used as a basis for evaluating outstanding performance: overall impact on Lehigh students, program development and implementation, bridging cultural differences, and student governance by taking a role to improve student faculty and staff interactions.
  • Gregory Anderson, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
  • Nicholas Anderson, Theta Chi
  • Steven Bialick, Theta Chi
  • Nora Diehl, Alpha Gamma Delta
  • Todd Dobry, Theta Chi
  • Karl Saxe, Delta Phi
  • Nickolas Welton, Delta Upsilon

Ujima Award
"Ujima" is the third principle of Kwanzaa and means "collective work and responsibility". This award recognizes a student who has taken responsibility for and worked collectively with others to create a more inclusive campus community.

  • Karl Brisseaux, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Allegiance Award
This award is presented to seniors in recognition of their dedication and continuous improvement focused within a specific organization. Outstanding performance in this area includes: the senior's impact on the organization, being an organizational member for a substantial portion of their time at Lehigh, serving in a variety of roles within the organization, and being instrumental in overall organizational management such as visioning, goal setting and yearly transition for the organization.

  • Walter Joseph, Lambda Chi Alpha

Student Club/Organization of the Year Award
This award recognizes the club or organization that has been the most active on campus throughout the academic year and has pursued to the highest degree their overall purpose as a club.

  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Alumni Association Undergraduate & Graduate Merit Award
The recipients of the Undergraduate & Graduate Merit Award shall be members of the graduating class or a graduate student, respectively, who by exemplary character, personality, scholarship, and participation in extra-curriculuar activities, represents the highest traditions of Lehigh University.

  • Nicholas Anderson, Theta Chi (Undergraduate)
  • Zahir Carrington, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Undergraduate)
  • Divya Nayar, Alpha Omicron Pi (Undergraduate)
  • Uhuru Aseto, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (Graduate)

Bosey Reiter Leadership Cup
Selection shall be guided by the following considerations: (1) The leadership shall be such as to contribute primarily to the best interest of the University. (2) Leadership shall be defined chiefly in terms of moral character and the definition of character shall be Theodore Roosevelt's: "Resolution, courage, energy, power of self control, combined with fearlessness in taking the initiative and assuming responsibility; a just regard for the rights of others, together with unflinching determination to succeed, no matter what obstacles and barriers have to be beaten down. There is, moreover, one quality too often wholly lacking in men of high intellectual ability, with or without which real character cannot exist - namely, the fundamental gift of common sense."

  • Zahir Carrington, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

University Service Award
The intention of the University Service Award is to honor the senior whose influence, ideals and activities have been devoted unselfishly to serve the best interests of his or her Alma Mater and fellow students. It is not so much a measure of the number of activities in which a student has participated, as it is a measure of their devotion to the groups in which they have accepted leadership responsibilities. It is not so much a measure of the extensiveness of a student's campus activities, as it is a measure of the unselfishness with which he or she has given of their time and effort to make those activities serve their fellow students.

  • Divya Nayar, Alpha Omicron Pi