First, if you already feel that you need help surviving orientation, then you need a quick reality check. You are not actually in The Hunger Games, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (though the campus might look similar), or back in your senior year of high school. Let me be the hundredth upon thousandth person to say “Welcome to Lehigh, and welcome to life in college!”
I was recently a college student, so I know what you are thinking. Some of you are terrified, some are excited, and some are still completely numb to all the change that is going on around you. Trust me, at this point you only need to do two things: First, please, shake off that dazed and confused look. Good! Now second, participate in the discussion; it will be the best thing for you.
For some background information about why I should be your reliable source for close to everything related to orientation… My name is Richard Gilbert. I’m a Lehigh alumni from the class of 2012, with a bachelor’s of science in chemical engineering. During my time at Lehigh, I started a club (T.N.T.), I was a gryphon for 5 semesters, and I was involved in learning from, leading, training, and planning the Orientation Program for three years.
What would I change if I could do college all over again? I would have been the person I am today, only sooner.
Four years ago when I was in your shoes. I sat in the back of UC 308 with my hat on, slouching in my seat, and pretending not to pay attention. I was doing everything you might be planning to do. I was trying to act cool, to give off that stoic but silent type persona, and because of that, I missed out on making real connections with some of the fantastic people who were in my Orientation group.
Eventually, I found my way. An entire year later I became what I secretly wanted to be from the first time walked into that classroom: I became an Orientation Leader. I was taught how to voice my thoughts, my ideas, and my passions, which I had always treasured strictly for myself. As it turned out, a lot of people other than me treasured those same thoughts, ideas, and passions too.
Reflecting back on my time at Lehigh, I know I did not do everything perfectly. Some things did not go how I expected or how I wanted, necessarily. Ultimately, I accomplished some amazing things during my time at Lehigh despite running into difficulties along the way. I think I made this campus a better place. Hence my expectation of you, future Lehigh student, is for you to be better than me, to be engaged from the start, awake in the mornings, and attentive in the afternoons. Your voice is the one we want to hear next, so have the courage to speak up.
A.K.A. Captain Lehigh (ask about it)
Richard Gilbert is a graduate of the Class of 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering. During his time on campus, he was a co-op student at Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., and co-founded L.U. T.N.T. (Lehigh University Tossing Not Throwing), which won the 2011-2012 Club of the Year. Additionally, he was a Gryphon for five semesters, an Orientation Leader for two incoming classes, and a Orientation Coordinator in his senior year. Most notably, he was the first and only person ever to be an Orientation Coordinator and Gryphon at the same time.