A warm welcome to the Class of 2020

Chicago natives Ginger Gerhold ’20 and her parents wouldn’t let an empty gas tank diminish their enthusiasm for the Lehigh experience the evening before move-in day.

Returning from a run to Target for dorm supplies, the family’s car ran out of gas. Ginger’s dad, Jay, “strategically rolled down Brodhead Avenue, right into the gas station at the bottom of the hill,” explained Ginger with a laugh, standing outside Iacocca Hall just after checking in. “It was a little embarrassing, but it’s all good. I’m nervous, but excited to meet some new people and for the different East Coast experience.”

Excitement and nervous anticipation ruled the day as more than 1,000 first-year students moved onto campus, pulling up to their assigned residence halls in vehicles packed full of necessities and reminders of home. M.O.O.V. (Made of Our Volunteers) representatives—a group of 823 students, faculty, staff and administrators—greeted them with cries of “Welcome to Lehigh!” and assisted with unpacking and delivering belongings to student rooms. Many of the students who arrived early on campus for PreLUsion, band camp, athletic training and other activities were on hand to help as well.

The members of the Class of 2020 represent 40 states and 30 countries. New countries represented include Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Oman and Portugal.

‘I’m going to love it here’

Kevin Wyckoff ’20 of Highbridge, New Jersey, stood outside Iacocca Hall with his parents, who expressed the wide range of emotions felt by many parents dropping their child off at college.

“I’m excited and nervous and also a little sad to be losing him, but I know he’s close by,” said his mother, Colleen O’Dea. “And he’s just thrilled to death to be here, so we’re really excited for him. He just can’t wait. This is an awesome school.”

“We’re looking forward to it,” agreed Kevin’s father, Paul. “We’re going to miss him, but it’s that time. It’s time for the next stage.”

“I can’t explain it,” said Tyler Longo ’20 of northern New Jersey. “I’m super excited and I know it’s going to be a great time. It’s going to be challenging but I’m going to love it here.

“I love my family and I’m glad they’re here with me,” he added, glancing at his parents, Pete and Gloria, and his sister, Rachael, as they prepared to head to his dorm.

Outside of McClintic-Marshall House, Jason Lange ’20 said he was “a little bit nervous but more excited” about arriving at Lehigh. His mother, Andrea Mengoli Lange ’89, lived in M&M as a Lehigh student. Her father was a member of Lehigh’s Class of 1952.

“I’m so thrilled for [Jason], and I love that he’s living in my old dorm,” she said. “Campus looks beautiful, so different than when I was here. I think it’s just going to be a great experience for him.”

Jamie Wisnia ’20 of San Diego arrived early for PreLUsion and was excited to meet her roommate, Zoe Zambito ’20 of New York City.

“My family moved me in on Tuesday and my mom and aunt and sister are still here,” said Wisnia. “So it’s nice that they came back and visited me ... and then I met my roommate, so that was really nice.” 

“I’m so happy to see the final product and just to be here and get unpacked,” said Zambito. “It’s really great.”

Move-in day offered students and their family members many options, including campus tours, a welcome lunch on the University Center lawn, a visit to the Campus Bookstore or the convenient Bed Bath & Beyond I Forgot Shop, a campus safety resource tour, information sessions and open houses, and an evening Hall Wars event featuring food, music and prizes.

Orientation activities will continue throughout the weekend, with events arranged through the Office of the First-Year Experience. Students will dine both on and off-campus, attend residence hall and orientation group meetings, and participate in summer reading discussions, the first-year student and alumni rally, and the academic convocation. Other activities include a make-and-take session, a rise-and-shine morning circuit bootcamp and a Minute to Win It competition.

Students will visit ArtsQuest at Steel Stacks on Saturday night for HullabaLU, a Lehigh After Dark event featuring mentalist Craig Karges, live music from Steel City Sunrise, a moon bounce and free food. The Lehigh After Dark program offers students alcohol-free social options on weekends throughout the academic year.

‘From our family to yours, welcome’

Thursday afternoon orientation activities began with the “Farewell to Families,” after which students and their families parted ways: students to residence hall meetings and family members to Grace Hall for the family orientation kick-off.

President John Simon welcomed the parents of the Class of 2020 to Lehigh.

“From our family to yours, welcome,” said Simon. “Lehigh is a special place made up of special people, and you got to meet some of them earlier today: our Lehigh volunteer army of students, staff and faculty, who helped pitch in to unload your vehicles.”

Simon listed some of the accomplishments of the members of the incoming class and commended them for their hard work.

“... In short, [the Class of 2020] is a very talented group of young men and women and they’re all here because they belong here. They earned it, each and every one, and we’re really grateful that you’re letting your sons and daughters come join our university,” he said.

Simon acknowledged the anxieties parents might be feeling and cited his own experience as parent of a first-year student.

“Today is the beginning of a tremendous journey in your child’s life, as they pass from your family to ours. And I’m sure you have anxieties about that. As parents it’s only natural. ... As a parent of a student in the Lehigh class of 2019, it was weird for me to stand here a year ago because I was both presenting this address about all of these anxieties and sharing all of those anxieties with you. What I can tell you is last year worked out really well, and it worked out well in spite of the fact that we’re on the same campus,” he said with a smile.

Simon emphasized Lehigh’s commitment to student safety, as well as students’ responsibilities for their own success. He discussed the university’s focus on diversity and inclusion, referencing Lehigh’s “Principles of Our Equitable Community.”

“At Lehigh we celebrate our diversity and we embrace our academic, cultural, economic and physical differences,” he said. “We respect one another and we look out for one another and we help one another succeed. These principles are not just words on a piece of paper—they’re what we believe in and what we expect for our entire university community.”

Simon closed with an invitation: “Again, welcome to the Lehigh family. I hope that many of you come back to Family Weekend in October, but please know you’re always welcome on campus. We want you to be as much a part of the Lehigh family as your sons and daughters, so please don’t be strangers. Come and see us often.”

Simon was preceded by Katherine Lavinder, interim dean of students, who welcomed parents to Lehigh. “You know your students worked hard to get here and we know that you worked hard to get them here, so congratulations to you all on this accomplishment because it’s your accomplishment as well,” she said. 

Ed Shupp, chief of the Lehigh University Police Department, invited parents to attend safety sessions during the orientation. Stefanie Burke, assistant dean and director of First-Year Experience, and Kara Gensamer, assistant director for First-Year Experience and orientation, spoke about programs and resources available to support first-year students in their transition to college, including Lehigh’s bLUeprint program.

For more images of move-in day, visit Lehigh's Tumblr page

Video by Stephanie Veto

Photos by Christa Neu

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