Gryphon Spotlight: Leah Paulson

Leah is a 2nd year Gryphon in Campus Square D.  She’s the Gryphon on 3rd floor and is really talented at dancing, especially hip-hop.

Area: Campus Square

Year and Major: Global Studies & Spanish double major , 2014

Hometown: Media, PA

Three things that make me happy:

  1. Subway performers
  2. LL Cool J
  3. Cake

One thing I can’t live without: a seesaw

Favorite entertainment medium: Nonfiction books in Espanol are a favorite of mine

Favorite thing about Gryphoning: Helping people discover who they want to be

Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: I have the chance to make friends! I love friends!

Other organizations/activities I am involved in: Club Rowing, RHA/RHC

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Giving Thanks

Considering that I am currently celebrating my last Thanksgiving as a Lehigh student, I thought it would be appropriate to take time to reflect on some of the things I have been most thankful for throughout my Lehigh experience.  The following list is not exhaustive, but trust that it is heartfelt.

1. The ArtsAlive PreLUsion program organized by ArtsLehigh.  Not only did I learn about glass blowing and theatre make-up, but participating in a PreLUsion program gave me a head start on getting comfortable in my residence hall and getting to know other first-year students.  Special shout-outs to Silagh and Susan!

2. The great trifecta: LGBTQIA Services, the Women’s Center, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.  Through these offices, I have met some of the most amazing individuals, and I’ve learned just as much from being involved in these offices as I have in all of my academic work.  I have attended and presented at national conferences thanks to my involvement in the Women’s Center and the Rainbow Room.  Special thanks to the staff in these three offices and to Break the Silence and Spectrum members for being constant sources of inspiration and encouragement throughout my years here.

3. The English department.  Throughout my undergraduate experience, I always pitied my peers who honestly hated their classes and their professors.  Thankfully, I’ve never had that experience.  Yes, I’ve complained about the amount of reading I had for homework or the number of papers I had to write, but when all is said and done, I’ve always loved it.  The English department is full of amazing faculty and staff who have always been available to help me, from the day I declared my major in Vivien Steele’s office (doesn’t she have the best name?) to the day I presented my senior thesis.  All of my professors have been brilliant and they’ve all challenged me in their own ways, but special thanks to Barry Kroll, Ed Gallagher, and Seth Moglen for constantly pushing me to do my best work and confirming for me that teaching English is a valuable and powerful profession.

4. The opportunity to study abroad.  Even if you don’t think you want to go for a whole semester, go abroad with one of the summer or winter programs.  I chose the Lehigh in Ireland program, which I could talk about for hours.  Living abroad is one of the most amazing experiences, and I am so thankful that I got up the guts to go.  After spending the summer between my junior and senior years in Ireland, I got the travel bug.  I signed up for a Religion Studies course and got to spend spring break my senior year in Israel with my class.

5. The Dean of Students staff.  These people run just about everything that happens on campus that is outside of the classroom and even some of the stuff that is.  With that said, where would I even begin?  They include the staff members of my great trifecta, they include the Ofice of Residence Life, the Community Service Office, Office of the First-Year Experience and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Student Activities, Student Conduct, and all the offices that help you excel academically.  They’re a whole bunch of incredible people who want to make my and your Lehigh experiences as awesome as possible.  Special thanks to Dean Allison Gulati for lots of things, but among them, for sending me to LeaderShape, which was another amazing conference experience.

6. Last, but obviously not least, the Office of Residence Life and the Gryphon Society.  When people ask me what I do at Lehigh, I answer, “I’m a Gryphon,” which is normally followed by an explanation of what a Gryphon is (cooler RAs, of course).  A lot of people don’t understand why I would want to spend the entirety of my undergraduate and graduate careers living in a residence hall (shout out to my four years in Dravo and this year in Brodhead!).  After working with the ORL staff, my Gryphon staffs, and residents over the years, I have trouble understanding why anyone wouldn’t.  I’ve made incredible friends and learned so much about myself and others.  I’m a better person, a better leader, and I believe I’ll be a better teacher because of it.  I extend my deepest and sincerest thanks to everyone who has made this experience so wonderful.  I’m sad that it’s all coming to an end for me, but you can be sure I’ll stay in touch.

A happy Thanksgiving to all.
-Gina

Gina Mason, Class of 2012/2013G, is the Head Gryphon in Brodhead and the social media intern for the Office of Residence Life.  After graduating in May, Gina will be moving to Newark to teach English as a member of Teach for America’s 2013 corps.

What others are saying…

How I had tons of fun, found great friends, met professional mentors, and started my career through life at Lehigh.

The Beginning: The first time I met my Gryphon she was walking down the hallway in a towel, having just finished a shower and heading back to her room.  She wasn’t expecting to meet one of her newest residents that day, as first year move-in was scheduled for a few days later.  I was there to participate in a pre-orientation program called Volunteer Experience and had arrived to start a three-day project helping to build a home in nearby Bucks County.  Like any great Gryphon, she excitedly welcomed me to the hall, regardless of the fact she was wearing a towel and had not yet finished with the door decorations and bulletin boards for the floor.

 

Best thing I did at Lehigh #1: Getting involved early, joining clubs, getting rejected from groups, joining different groups, and meeting lots of people all helped me get settled and find my place at Lehigh.

I had so much fun volunteering with other students and meeting people during orientation that I decided to get involved on campus right away.  At the club fair during the first week of school, I signed up to join a bunch of clubs, including a soccer team and an organization for LGBT students and their allies.  I auditioned for an a Capella group (and got rejected), went to speakers on campus, played frisbee outside of Taylor College, and went to BBQs hosted by our Gryphons.  I met so many different people and learned a lot about all that Lehigh had to offer.

 

Best thing I did at Lehigh #2: Finding a close group of friends to share the Lehigh experience with by being involved in campus life gave me a support system and created relationships that have lasted well beyond our time at Lehigh.

My second year at Lehigh, I was selected to be a Gryphon in Richards and helped welcome a new class of first year students.  I wouldn’t have even considered applying to be a Gryphon if I hadn’t gotten to know one of the professional staff members in Residence Life who suggested that I apply.  He encouraged me to get involved and by the middle of my sophomore year, I had responsibilities as a Gryphon, was serving on the executive board of a student organization, was co-directing a student production, and was involved with the Women’s Center, Multicultural Center, and Rainbow Room working to make Lehigh a more open and inclusive community.  The other Gryphons on staff became some of my best friends at Lehigh, friends that I am in touch with to this day.  The other students in the clubs I was part of also became my great friends, friends I have traveled with, lived with, and still turn to for fun and advice.

 

Best thing I did at Lehigh #3: Building relationships with faculty and staff members provided me with the mentorship and network of connections that helped me develop a strong foundation for my career.

By the time I was a senior, I had made connections with students, faculty, and staff from a variety of places across the university.  I completed an honors thesis with a faculty member in my major and learned important skills in research and writing.  I had connected with several staff members in the Residence Life office who had helped me secure a summer internship and provided advice about my future.  They served as mentors to me, and when it was time to think about life after graduation, they helped provide the window into a world that has become my career.

I didn’t know that the field of higher education administration even existed prior to coming to Lehigh.  Through my involvement as a Gryphon, working with student clubs, and on the task forces and committees I was asked to join because of my good relationships with administrators, I started to see that I could turn my passion for having a great college experience into a career.  I decided to use my Presidential Scholar award to spend a fifth year at Lehigh to pursue my master’s degree in educational leadership, which I completed in 2008.  During that time, I started a full-time position working at Lehigh’s Career Services, a job I was offered because of a connection I had made during my undergraduate time with a staff person in that office.  I had turned my newly found interests into the start of a great career.

I did eventually leave Lehigh, but only physically.  Since my time there, I have transitioned into professional roles at two different colleges and made steady progress in a thus-far successful career in higher education administration.  I am involved in local and national organizations that serve my profession and have received recognition for my contributions to the field.  I would not be where I am today if I had not taken advantage of the full offerings of Lehigh both in and outside the classroom, spent time with great friends, and devoted time to get to know faculty and staff beyond what was expected.  I carry with me all of the skills, relationships, and experiences I gained during my time at Lehigh.  It has proved to be an invaluable toolkit for me both personally and professionally, and was ridiculously fun along the way.

 

Chris Diggs works in higher education administration and is currently the Assistant Director for Student Affairs at Baruch College.  She graduated from Lehigh University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and religion studies.  She also received a Master of Education degree in educational leadership from Lehigh in 2008.  Chris is a native New Yorker and enjoys taking advantage of all that the city has to offer.

Studying Abroad: Reflections

Imagine this:

It’s fall semester and for the past year your roommate (and one of your best friends at Lehigh) has been talking non-stop about studying abroad in Ireland. She has filled out her paperwork, been accepted, and started preparing documents for travel. You’re feeling sort of jealous because you’ve always wanted to study abroad but now that the last moment to decide is actually here you’re having doubts about moving a few thousand miles away from everyone you know for the next half-year.

I’m here to tell you to do it.

While my roommate had a year to prepare I filled out an application, got accepted, and started making preparations only two months in advance of getting on a plane (while also trying not to fail my finals!) And do you want to know a secret? Up until the moment that plane was on the runway I didn’t know if I was going to go through with it. We left 3 days after Christmas during the December snowstorms of 2010 (if you remember them) and that day our plane had been cancelled and rescheduled for a week later, but my friend’s father found us seats on another plane – if we could get to Philadelphia in two hours. From that moment on I had two hours to tell my parents to turn the car around, three hours in the terminal to run back to the car and drive home, and 30 minutes on the plane to unbuckle my belt and tell them to let me off the plane. Many times I wanted to, but I did none of these things and I am so grateful to myself for having either the courage or the stubbornness to stick it out.

The first two weeks were rough, it’s true, and there were a few other times when homesickness would hit me pretty hard. But after the shock of living in a new place wore off, every day that I did something new (out of necessity or curiosity) helped me to become more confidant that this was a great decision. For the first month I barely traveled outside of my host city, but by the time I flew home five months later I had been to 14 cities in 6 countries, plus a few small towns and the Aran Islands. I am more confident in my own country now because of the things I learned abroad, and I am more confident in myself because of the daily tests I put myself through in order to thrive during that experience.

Making the decision to study abroad can be just as difficult as actually leaving, this I know intimately. But I also know that just moving to a new place can’t be the extent of your experience. If you do decide to take advantage of the fantastic programs Lehigh has to offer (and I shout to the heavens that I hope you do) then remember to get out of your host city and see the surrounding areas – visit smaller towns and talk to people your age and older, visit places with vastly different natural environments, and especially if you are in Europe take advantage of cheap flights and train networks. If you’re not from a city or not used to international travel, start with smaller trips like I did – getting to know Cork helped me trust myself to navigate Paris or Florence.  But most importantly, take that first leap and apply to a program. My friends and family believed I could do it, and I believe that you can do it. And I believe that you will come back to Lehigh with a renewed interest in life and learning and will get so much more out of your time in college if you take advantage of this opportunity.

Trip to the Aran Islands:

Trip to Florence:

Trip to Monte Carlo:

Trip to London (note: do not travel in London during a royal wedding)

Meghan Zwickl graduated in May 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science.  She intends to move to D.C. and work in either government or non-profit.

Gryphon Recruitment

Being a Gryphon gives you a chance to shape the Lehigh community. You are given a chance to provide feedback to university officials, provide advice to younger students, and meet other engaged Lehigh students. – Evan Baugh, Class of 2012

That sounds pretty cool, right?  Now that your interest is piqued, take a minute to read the message below from Taran Cardone, the staff member who coordinates Gryphon recruitment and selection.  Following that are some more testimonials by current and former Gryphons about why Gryphoning is the best job on campus!

Hi everyone!
My name is Taran Cardone and I am serving in a new role for the Office of Residence Life (ORL). As the Director of Student Life Curriculum and Residential Staff Development, a large aspect of my work is selecting and recruiting the Gryphon staff with the help of the rest of the ORL professional staff. As an undergraduate student, I was able to serve as a Resident Assistant (we didn’t have a cool name like you all do at Lehigh!) for 3 years and loved every minute of that experience. I learned so much about myself, other people, and the kind of work that I wanted to do after college (which was helpful because I wasn’t too sure about what I wanted to do). Plus, I was able to practice important skills that I still use everyday in the areas of communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, and leadership. It truly was a life-changing opportunity for me and I, therefore, am eager to tell current students to explore that possibility for themselves!
Speaking of which, it is already time to apply to be a Gryphon for next year!  Please join us at the following information session to learn more:
Friday, November 9th @ 12:00 pm in University Center, 409
We would love to see you there and answer any questions that you may have! Feel free to also e-mail us at gryphon@lehigh.edu. Applications are due on Friday, December 7th, 2012 for the 2013-2014 academic year. Those interested in positions for Spring 2013 must submit their applications by Tuesday, November 27th, 2012.

Looking forward to getting to know you through this process!
Taran

“Gryphoning will teach you how to build communities founded upon mutual appreciation of all members. Gryphons empower and encourage residents by caring for their well-being thus forming a comfortable and accepting atmosphere for their individual identities within a group.” – Andrew Josephson, Class of 2013

“Gryphoning gives you a sense of belonging and duty. Because of its supporting structure of peers and mentors, it gives people a sense of pride in the work they do and encourages people to better themselves. It gives introverts the courage and space to share their ideas, and extroverts the anchor and foundation to make their ideas come true. It doesn’t demand you to pretend to be anything that you are not. It doesn’t force you to fit it. Instead, Gryphoning gives every individual a chance to shine, to be cared for, and to take care of others.” – Jennifer Wang, Class of 2012

“Gryphoning allowed me to work in a unique environment, different from any RA at another school. Instead of just enforcing policies, I felt I was there as a resource for all residents as well as a friend. By Gryphoning at Lehigh, I opened up many doors for my future that otherwise would have remained closed.” – Brian Godshall, Class of 2012

“There are multiple reasons why I’d recommend people to Gryphon. First, I really found myself through Gryphoning. Second, Gryphoning is so much fun. Lastly, I’ve made lasting friendships and memories along the way.” – Ram Sinha, Class of 2014

“Although I had been at Lehigh for four years, the decision to Gryphon while pursuing my masters was one of the best choices I have made this year. I have been able to see an entirely different side of Lehigh and been able to interact with so many great students and staff members. I have also learned so much about myself and interacting with others.  No matter what career path anyone may take, these skills can be utilized in any profession. I would definitely recommend Gryphoning for anyone who wants to get involved more with Lehigh!” – Alyssa Siano, Class of 2012, 2013G

“When I first became a Gryphon I expected to gain leadership skills and help shape the residential experience of my residents. In retrospect, I gained so much more! I joined a family that continues to grow, evolve, and that always welcomes me back when I visit campus. The skills I developed and the connections I made with my residents and my fellow Gryphons are priceless. Oh, I also became awesome at making bulletin boards- thanks Gryphoning!” Adam Kohn, Class of 2011

“Gryphoning helped shape me to be the person I am today. When I first started, I was a shy and insecure, but through Gryphoning, I gained confidence, maturity, a greater appreciate for others, but also a greater understanding of what I stand for as a person.” – Daniel Bahner, Class of 2009.

Reflections on Hurricane Sandy

For the second year in a row, Halloween was put on hold at Lehigh thanks to a storm that knocked out power to the campus.  Hurricane Sandy tore through Bethlehem, and although we are very lucky compared to other areas around the East Coast, Lehigh did suffer some damage thanks to the storm’s powerful winds.

Below are some images of storm damage on campus, courtesy of LUPD (unless otherwise indicated).  Also included are staff and student reflections on the effects of Sandy, both here on campus and at their homes.

“A few of my residents starting asking me if they could go home days before Provost Pat Farrell announced school would be closed on Monday and Tuesday. When I heard the word that classes were going to be canceled, I suggested that they go home because with no power at school, it would be better for them to go home. Most of them got away from campus on Sunday night, but those that stayed realized a couple days later that it would be better to spend time with friends and family at home.  On Monday night, at the peak of high winds, Sandy managed to uproot one of the trees in the courtyard causing it to fall onto Beardslee. Luckily no windows were damaged and no one was injured, but it left some nice scars on the side of the building.”  – Matt Raborn, Class of 2013

A fallen tree rests against power lines in the off campus area behind the Centennial I Complex and Rathbone Dining Hall.

“We lost power late Monday evening and evacuated Taylor just before noon on Tuesday, staying with my sister and her family just outside of Philly overnight. While it certainly wasn’t so convenient, it pales in comparison to what so many people have gone through over the past week.” – Rabbi Seth Goren, Director of Jewish Student Life, Associate Chaplain, and Residential Fellow in Taylor College

A massive tree beneath Coppee Hall was completely uprooted by Hurricane Sandy.

“Hurricane Sandy had a greater impact on me than I thought it would have. I went home the minute I found out classes were cancelled, and ended up not having power, heat, or running water at my house for the entire week, up to now. At first I was complaining, but driving around in my neighborhood and local areas and seeing the devastation the storm had caused, it really made me thankful and showed me how blessed my family and I were to survive the storm in good health, and that power and heat were the only things we lost. Many other people were much less fortunate.”  –  Ralph Jean-Noel, Class of 2015

A tree outside of Packer Memorial Church and Chandler-Ullman knocks down “The Temple,” a metal sculpture by Mary-Ann Unger that was a part of the Philip and Muriel Berman Sculpture Gardens.

“Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy went right through Long Beach Island, NJ where my family owns a house on the bay. I have since gone to see the house and was shocked by the devastation caused to the area. It was a terrible sight to see people moving all of their possessions out to the curb, because the storm destroyed everything they own.  But the morale even in our neighborhood was incredible. Everyone wanted to help their neighbors, and the policeman and trash men were in great moods, willing to answer any questions or lend a hand whenever possible.”  –  Alex Stephanou, Class of 2015

A tree knocked down by the storm rests on a car in the Mohler Lab parking lot.

“I think what has impacted me most about Hurricane Sandy was seeing the devastation to the shore back home in NJ. I have so many amazing memories there growing up, and knowing people who lost their homes really made everything a lot harder to deal with.”  –    Sam Soto, Class of 2013

Fallen trees outside of the Psi Upsilon fraternity house on “The Hill” provide dramatic testimony to the power of the storm that ripped through campus.

“It was incredible just how empty Brodhead House felt once everyone finished moving out during the power outage. Just goes to show that that home-away-from-home feel of a residence hall is not an intrinsic characteristic of the building, but an atmosphere which every hall mates’ presence is vital for.”  –   Andrew McGarry, Class of 2015

Students displaced from their residence halls found shelter in Grace Hall and later the UC while waiting for power to be restored to campus. (image by Mowffq Mohammad)

Despite the damage at Lehigh and at home, Lehigh students are always quick to find the true moral to the story…

“Hurricane Sandy helped me to realize that life goes on in some pretty amazing ways even without the luxury of convenience. People caring for people helps the world go round. Love of your fellow man/woman is where real POWER comes from, even without electricity.”  –  Dana Mendes, Class of 2013