One of the most valuable gifts a person can receive is the gift of education. At the 2018 Lehigh University Scholarship Dinner on March 27, students receiving endowed scholarships were able to share their aspirations, experiences and appreciation with benefactors whose generosity is helping them obtain a Lehigh education.
“It is very motivating and uplifting that somebody I have never met invests in my education and has confidence in me,” said behavioral neuroscience major Jordan Hayes ’18, the recipient of the Alan W. and Muriel Pense Endowed Scholarship. “I think it is really motivating for all of the students here to receive something to help fund their education, and it also helps them to work harder.”
In his remarks, President John D. Simon ’19P thanked donors for their generosity, which helps the university fulfill its commitment to providing financial aid to cover 100 percent of any student’s demonstrated financial need.
“We select students who have the talent to succeed at Lehigh, and they should not have to go elsewhere because they can’t afford our education. Scholarships and financial aid are the enablers,” Simon told the approximately 250 guests in the renovated Wood Dining Room in the Iacocca Conference Center.
Simon also shared Lehigh’s newest partnerships with the American Talent Initiative and the Posse Foundation that will bring more talented lower-income and first-generation students to campus. These students will be supported by Lehigh’s Center for Access and Success program. The program, which complements efforts around financial aid and scholarship, provides services that ensure students thrive and are able to achieve their full potential once they come to campus.
“We must seize the moment, capitalize on what we do well, and be unrelenting as we compete for talented students, both across the nation and internationally,” said Simon.
Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, chairman, Lehigh University Board of Trustees, shared statistics that showed that about half of undergraduate students depend on some kind of financial aid from Lehigh. He said there are 1,035 endowed scholarship funds at the university and that out of the $1.3 billion endowment, $458 million is designated for scholarship and financial aid. He stressed the importance of supporting the upcoming $1 billion-plus Lehigh campaign that will increase endowed funds for scholarships and financial aid by $400 million, with $50 million of that being devoted to Access and Success programs.
“Scholarships ensure the most talented can benefit from the transformative nature of a Lehigh education,” said Clayton. “We can all be proud to share in this legacy of scholarship support.”
After dinner, student panelists spoke about how their own Lehigh experiences are changing their lives. Led in discussion by Joseph Buck, vice president, Development and Alumni Relations, Daniel Amankwatia ’19, Nadine Elsayed ’18, Evan Klein ’18 and Nicole McCallum ’18 shared stories about following their passions in and out of the classroom, traveling abroad, gaining internship experience, customizing their academic programs, networking with alumni, landing jobs and becoming equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for their futures. The common thread from the panelists was the appreciation they had for their opportunities and the donors who gave them that chance.
“I wouldn’t be able to do all of the things that I have been able to do without my scholarship. I would have had to take time off to get an on-campus job,” said Amankwatia, a mechanical engineering and economics major with a minor in aerospace engineering in the integrated business and engineering honors program. A recipient of the Patricia and Carl Greer ’62 Scholarship and the Clinton F. Miller ’34 Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Amankwatia was able to sing a solo as a member of the University Choir in Spain–an experience he cherishes.
Recounting her highlights as a student, global studies and communications major, Nadine Elsayed ’18 said she traveled to Italy, England, Scotland, Cambodia and the Netherlands through Lehigh’s Martindale Honors Program and the Iacocca International Internship program.
“What has been extraordinary for me at Lehigh has been the unparalleled opportunities that I have been presented with during my four years. I think these types of experiences are what are special to Lehigh,” said Elsayed, the recipient of the Franklin S. Lerch Scholarship and the Alexander, Elizabeth, and Joann Trotsky Endowed Scholarship. “I am really grateful to these programs and the donors of these programs; otherwise, they would not exist. Many of these people are in this room today.”
Having scholarship funding enabled computer engineering major Evan Klein ’18 to be a member of the Marching 97 and take private drum lessons on campus. With the band, Klein performed in Yankee Stadium during the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry football game and traveled to England to perform in the 2018 London New Year’s Day Parade.
“I was really happy to have the opportunity to continue with drumming. It really meant a lot to me to not have to give up my passion,” said Klein, the recipient of the Leonard P. Pool Memorial Scholarship and the Snyder Family Endowed Scholarship.
Nicole McCallum ’18 said she applied to Lehigh as an early decision applicant because she knew not many other schools had the diverse range of experiences to offer engineering students. An integrated degree in engineering, and arts and sciences (IDEAS) major, McCallum was able to take courses in entrepreneurship, community engagement and global citizenship. She also helped bring clean water to parts of Ghana, conducted research in Cambodia and explored entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley.
“Through this program, I have been able to follow different passions that I didn’t even know existed when I first applied to college,” said McCallum, the recipient of the Jeffrey A. Aronson ’83 and Suzanne C. Auclair Scholarship. “These experiences have not only shaped me, but have given me a holistic lens on the world and outlook on life.”
At the conclusion of the evening, students and donors lingered to say goodbye.
Anne Kline ’81, senior vice president of Revere Bank and member of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees, commented on the importance of supporting students and the evening.
“I was a recipient of scholarships and work study programs at Lehigh,” she said. “Without people helping me, I would not be the person that I am today. I am very grateful for my education. I am grateful for people who are able to give back, and this was just a wonderful, wonderful evening.”
Story by Dawn Thren ’21P
Photos by John Kish IV