My First Year as a Gryphon by Shelby Wirtz

When I first fell in love with Lehigh and learned about its student life, I always grappled with the idea of becoming a Gryphon.  In high school I was involved in activities similar to the Gryphon role, such as Peer to Peer and tutoring, so the idea of being involved in the student community during the next phase of my academic career sounded enticing.  So as a first-year student still trying to navigate college life, I applied for the Gryphon position more or less just to “give it a shot.”  I had a pretty good idea of what my Gryphon did, not really that much of an idea of what other Gryphons did, and no idea what the Office of Residence Life did, but I figured I could find out if the opportunity ever presented itself.

It’s hard for me to believe that was almost two years ago.

            I was a first-time Gryphon as a sophomore in Stoughton in Lower Cents for 2012-2013.  While moving into my room in mid-August for Gryphon training, I was just as excited – if not more excited – as I was moving in for my first day at Lehigh.  However, there was still some apprehension and uncertainty.  How much is this role going to affect my life at Lehigh?  Will the other Gryphons like and accept me?  Will I be able to step up to the plate when the time calls for it?  Because of these feelings of excitement and anxiety, I was a little shy during training and initial meetings with my Centennials staff.  I wanted to make sure I absorbed all the information given to me, and maybe I focused on that a little too much.

            As the year went on, I gained more and more confidence in the Gryphon role and found a genuine love and appreciation of it.  Just by getting to know my residents a little bit, planning programs that they would enjoy became a breeze.  Being on duty became a great opportunity to get to know not only Stoughton residents, but residents in the other Lower Cents buildings as well.  When the time came to enforce ORL policies, I was at first a little apprehensive, but I had many Gryphons and Assistant Directors to be role models and guides.  The more I got involved in the Gryphon program, the more I wanted to improve and be more creative, so by the end of the school year I was ready and willing to take on another assignment for 2013-2014 in M&M.  This area will definitely be different from Lower Cents, but I’m very excited to learn how to adapt as a Gryphon and also mentor other new Gryphons.

            Overall, I’m so glad that I faced my fears almost two years ago and sent that “big bad application” in.  I remember going back and forth night after night about whether it was the right choice for me, but I know now I would have deeply regretted it if I didn’t apply.  Since then, I’ve definitely learned what Gryphons and the ORL do, but I’ve also learned even more.  Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way:

 To students living in a residence hall with a Gryphon:

1.)  Don’t be afraid to talk to your Gryphon about anything – good, bad, boring, funny, whatever.  That’s what we’re here for!  We’re always happy to help you with any issues that may arise, and we’re trained to respond to a variety of student needs.

2.)  Utilize the entire Gryphon Society, not just “your” Gryphon.  As much as we try, Gryphons can’t be around 24/7.  Unless we’re on duty, we could be in class, at the library, at the gym or dining hall, or anywhere else any other Lehigh student would be.  However, there’s always a pretty high chance that at least one Gryphon in your area will be around the residence area at any given time.  Get to know them; you never know when you might need their assistance!

3.)  Give the Gryphons a chance.  Gryphons love to build community and make Lehigh memories.  Although it’s fun for us, the main reason we do it is for you.  Be open to the programs, activities, and opportunities that Gryphons organize, because you never know who you’ll meet or what fun you’ll have!

To upcoming first-year Gryphons or students considering being Gryphons:

1.)  If you’re grappling with the idea of applying…JUST DO IT!  The application and interview process is an amazing and unique experience.  Regardless of the outcome, it’s good to get some of that experience under your belt for future interviews.  And if you do get an offer for a position, go with your gut.  If you have any questions about it, there are about 100 members of the Gryphon Society who would be glad to share their stories.

2.)  Don’t be afraid to have fun with the Gryphon Society.  It may seem like this role is a “job” that requires you to always be on your toes, but that is far from the truth.  Being a Gryphon is about creating a positive community at Lehigh, and how can you do that without having fun?  Now that I’ve learned this, I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for me as a returning Gryphon.

3.)  Push yourself to become a better Gryphon than you were yesterday.  The difference between good Gryphons and great Gryphons is this: good Gryphons do exactly what is expected of them, great Gryphons think of ways to exceed those expectations.  And trust me; it’s not as hard as it sounds.  Being a creative Gryphon has never been a burden to me academically or socially.  The Gryphon role has only enhanced my Lehigh experience.





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