Gryphon Spotlight: Ram Sinha

Ram is a 2nd year Gryphon in Campus Square A.  He’s the Gryphon the building and he hates to party. 

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Area: Campus Square

Year and Major: BioE (Cell & Tissue); `14

Hometown: Warren, NJ

Three things that make me happy:

  1. Seeing/Doing selfless acts
  2. Scones
  3. Friends and Family

One thing I can’t live without: Bananas

Favorite entertainment medium: Music, either chill or dance

Favorite thing about Gryphoning: Meeting new people with an assortment of backgrounds

Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Being a part of a community

Other organizations/activities I am involved in: Colleges Against Cancer, Research

 

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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

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.

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.

Lehigh Legends

Why does Chandler-Ullmann have so many chimneys? Why is it such a confusing building? Why did the third floor of Williams really blow up? I – and I alone – have cracked the mysterious mystery of the Lehigh Dragon. Well, I guess that’s it. It was a dragon. What else do you want to know? It had blue feathers. Yeah, dragons have feathers – they’re birds. But due to the shape of its throat, it could only speak German. So Frederich Hans Chandler-Ullmann trained it to cook the food for Jackson Monroe Rathbone, owner of the first Füd Wagun. Everything was overdone and dry. Lawrence Harold Cort opted for a more conventional oven. Eventually, the dragon died. Thus, Wing Wednesday was born. And now you know. And knowing is half the battle. The other half takes careful planning and execution to infiltrate the enemy base. And half of life is showing up. Moral of this story? Lehigh is what you make it. Write your own adventure because, in the end, you’ll leave this truly magical place and you don’t want it to just fade into the black reaches of your memory. So do something big, because when Lehigh gets a part of you, you’ll always have a part of Lehigh.

Andrew “The Dragon” Josephson, Class of 2013, is currently serving as the Head Gryphon of Dravo.  When he isn’t writing great advice based on Lehigh lore, he is working on his degree in Biochemistry.  Andy intends to go on to medical school and save the world.

Gryphon Spotlight: Jimmy Bowen

Jimmy is a second year Gryphon in Dravo.  He’s the Gryphon on C4 floor, and he’s awesome so go say hi!

Area: Dravo

Year and Major: Biochemistry, Junior

Hometown: Flemington, NJ

Three things that make me happy:

  1. People treating each other well
  2. Baby animals
  3. Crepes

One thing I can’t live without: Chicken fingers

Favorite entertainment medium: (movies, music, books, etc): Music

Favorite thing about Gryphoning: Making an impact on the lives of young Lehigh students

Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Always having people around and meeting many new people

Other organizations/activities I am involved in: Challah for Hunger, American Medical Student Association (AMSA), UP Excursions

Gryphon Spotlight: Dan O’Leary

DannyO is a second year Gryphon in Richards. He’s the Gryphon on the 4th floor, but don’t stop by unless you’re down to chill because he can talk for hours and is always looking to get a new experience out of life.

Area: Richards

Year and Major: Junior, Mechanical Engineer

Hometown: Allentown, PA

Three things that make me happy:
1. Girlfriend
2. Country Music
3. THE NY Giants

One thing I can’t live without: L-A-S-A-G-N-A

Favorite entertainment medium (movies, music, books, etc): Music

Favorite thing about Gryphoning: Being the glue that puts first-year students and Lehigh success together.

Favorite thing about living in a residence hall: Who wouldn’t love living with a bunch of random people? Everybody is so different and has so many stories that you can never be bored.

Other activities: Youth Coaching at Parkland Youth Center

Altering Expectations

Five summers ago, just a few months removed from my high school graduation, I set out on one of the most intimidating journeys of my life. I left the only place I had ever called home to move to a state I had visited just once on my campus tour, to a college where I knew no one – save for the roommates with whom I exchanged e-mails and Facebook messages.

Despite my trepidations, I felt confident that I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I was convinced that my college experience wouldn’t waver much from the plan I had for the next four years, after which I would move on to a yet-to-be-determined urban locale with the job of my dreams.

Like many first-year students, I was wrong.

For one, my undergraduate experience lasted a few months longer than a neat-and-tidy eight semesters in four years, which believe me, is not as uncommon as you might think. And I still live in little old Bethlehem.

I thought that I was destined to be a Civil Engineer, and then a Mechanical Engineer, until I ended up with a degree in Applied Science. Today, I’m working as a Communications Associate with Lehigh’s Communications and Public Affairs office. This fall, I’m working toward a Master’s degree – in American Studies.

I knew nothing about fraternities and what they did, and did not intend to join one. But I became a member, and then a chapter president. I count the men in my chapter as lifetime friends and brothers.

I became a Gryphon as a sophomore for the free housing and half-priced meal plan (PS: You should get a block plan, the 225-meal plan to be specific. Trust me.) But I ended up serving as a Head Gryphon during my junior and senior years, and the experience taught me more than I ever anticipated.

College, like life, can be pretty unpredictable. And like life, college has a way of looking at your plans for success and laughing at them. There are simple things you can do that will make a huge difference, like actually attending your classes no matter if they are optional, too early, or a little boring. But you can’t expect or anticipate everything. You’re destined to make a few mistakes.

You can, however, expect college, especially one like Lehigh, to change you. It won’t happen overnight, but before you know it, four years will have gone by and you will most certainly be a new – and better – version of yourself. You’ll look down at your student ID card and hardly recognize the face staring back at you.

Step outside of yourself. Get involved in things that you care about. But don’t overdo it. My sophomore year, I took 35 credits while being involved in at least 4 student organizations. I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you need help, ask for it. Help others when you’re able. As a Gryphon, I helped students with issues ranging from trivial to serious, and they’ve never forgotten. When I run into my residents, the last group of which will graduate this spring, they always thank me for being there for them.

College is about learning, making mistakes, and growing. Be better for it. And don’t take it for granted.

Karl Brisseaux ’11 is a Communications Associate at Lehigh. He graduated with a B.S. in Applied Science, and worked with the Office of Residence Life as a Gryphon in Centennial I (McConn), Centennial II (Beardslee), and Warren Square from 2008-2011.

Want to hear some more advice about how to succeed personally and professionally at Lehigh? Check out what our panelists have to say…

Gryphon Society: Lehigh’s Version of the Resident Assistant Position

History:

Way back in 1957, a group of 40 Lehigh undergraduate students (all men at the time!) petitioned the Committee on Social Activities for recognition as a campus “living group” that would provide social opportunities for its members.  This group’s members grew to become staples in the first year residence halls, serving as counselors and role models for the residents.

The Gryphon Society’s name is inspired by the gryphon, a popular beast in Greek mythology.  The half-eagle half-lion creature is known for having guarded the gold of ancient Scythia.  The founders of the Gryphon Society proposed the name because of the similarities between gryphons and the role of Lehigh’s Gryphons on campus – No, we’re not beasts!  It’s because we seek to guard and protect the “gold,” which is, of course, the student population at Lehigh.

The Role of a Gryphon:

The Gryphon Society has evolved in many ways in the 50+ years since its inception.  The group has more than doubled in size, consisting of 100 Gryphons, and members now live in both first year residence halls and upperclassmen residence halls serving more than 2,400 on-campus residents.

In addition to evolving in size and reach, the role of the Gryphon has also expanded from the original “counselor” role.  Today, Gryphons serve as advocates, mentors, role models, policy enforcers, administrators, programmers, resources, and leaders for the students residing in Lehigh’s residence halls.

Gryphons seek to improve the residential experiences of Lehigh undergraduate students by serving an immediate source of support and assistance, facilitating community development, and promoting a safe and healthy residential environment.

Check out this video to hear some Gryphons talking about what being a Gryphon means to them: