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 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.
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