Scholarship Celebration 2019

Lehigh University’s Scholarship Celebration on April 24 brought together scholarship recipients with their benefactors to develop friendships, share dreams and bestow appreciation. During the panel presentation, Karen Shihadeh Schaufeld ’83 ’15P ’17P, left, spoke about the special relationship the Schaufeld family has with their scholarship recipients and how important it is to bring students from different backgrounds together at Lehigh. Also on the panel to share their experiences were, from left, Jacob Schaufeld ’15 and Schaufeld scholars Tariq Al-Serhan ’21, Rafi Naber ’22, and Lama Nassar ’16. The program was moderated by Joseph Buck, vice president of development and alumni relations, far right. Photo by Christa Neu

Annual Scholarship Celebration Features Compelling Stories of Paying it Forward

Donors and scholarship recipients forge bonds through their love of Lehigh.

Lama Nassar ’16 spoke from the heart when she said the Schaufelds felt like family to her. An international student from Palestine, Nassar received the Karen Shihadeh Schaufeld ’83 and Fredrick D. Schaufeld ’81 Endowed Scholarship to attend Lehigh. When she arrived in the United States in 2012, the family immediately took her under its wing.

During a panel presentation at the 2019 Scholarship Celebration on April 24, Nassar and current Schaufeld scholars Tariq Al-Serhan ’21 and Rafi Naber ’22 spoke about their Lehigh experiences and how much they feel at home with the Schaufeld family.

Al-Serhan first met Karen at last year’s Scholarship Dinner and immediately accepted her invitation to join them for Thanksgiving. “I felt the warmth of having a home away from home,” recalled Al-Serhan who is from Amman, Jordan.

He subsequently met Fred Schaufeld at the Donald M. Gruhn ’49 Distinguished Finance Speaker Series lecture in November and learned of Fred’s journey from Lehigh to successful entrepreneur.

“They are two people who I look up to a lot, and there is a lot to learn from them and their story,” said Al-Serhan, a computer engineering major and business and Spanish minor. “The way they give back to Lehigh is definitely something that I am going to work on in the future. I am lucky to know them.”

Karen shared with a rapt audience of more than 200 guests in the Wood Dining Room that she and Fred were scholarship recipients themselves. She spoke of receiving The Class of 1955 Memorial Scholarship as a student and meeting a member of the Class of 1955, Richard Thall ’55 ’87P ’15GP ’18GP ’19GP, and his wife, Alice, earlier in the evening. She said, “To me, they are my heroes because I got to benefit from a Lehigh education.”

Karen and Fred always knew they would give back so other students could receive the same benefit.

“We thought, ‘What can we do globally?’” said Karen, a member of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees and the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council. Recognizing the importance of providing students from different backgrounds the opportunity to interact with each other to gain a broader viewpoint, the Schaufelds decided to provide Lehigh scholarships for talented high school students from the King’s Academy in Jordan.

Karen Shihadeh Schaufeld ’83 and Lama Nassar ’16 at the scholarship dinner

In 2013, Karen Shihadeh Schaufeld ’83 worked on an ice breaker activity at the Scholarship Dinner with industrial and systems engineering major Lama Nassar ’16, the recipient of the Karen Shihadeh Schaufeld ’83 and Fredrick D. Schaufeld ’81 Endowed Scholarship. Nassar, now a consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, was a panelist at the 2019 Scholarship Celebration and shared her close bond with the Schaufeld family. Photo by John Kish IV.

“We are honored that Lehigh gets to have them,” said Karen. So far, the Schaufelds’ generosity has helped 10 students attend the university.

Karen and Fred’s son, Jake, shared his perspective on the close bonds formed through his family’s philanthropy. He joked that Thanksgiving at the Schaufeld home feels like a big United Nations meeting.

“One of the exciting things for me is, when you get people from different backgrounds together, you can talk with them openly about anything,” said Jake, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in earth and environmental science from Lehigh in 2015 and is CEO of Curator Solutions. “I’ve had the privilege to engage with all of these people and create this idea of family, which is pretty awesome.”

President John Simon ’19P told the donors in the room that they are empowering Lehigh students to do great things in the world. “I can’t think of better evidence of the transformative power of scholarships than to hear the testimony of the students here,” he said. “Our reputation is and has always been defined by the success of our graduates. It is important that we attract the top talent for the graduates of the next generation.”

As scholarship donors themselves, both Simon and Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, chair of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees, emphasized that the university’s top priority of GO: The Campaign for Lehigh is to raise $350 million for financial aid and scholarships and $50 million for access and success programs.

“As Lehigh expands its national and international reach, we will see a more diverse community of students from a broader range of backgrounds on our campus. We are committed to increasing need-based aid and giving the best students access to the full Lehigh education,” explained Simon.

Donors and scholarship recipients share Lehigh stories

Donors and scholarship recipients get to spend time together and share Lehigh stories at the annual Scholarship Celebration. Photo by Christa Neu

Throughout the evening’s reception and dinner, donors and students were deeply engaged in conversation about their lives, their Lehigh experiences, and what’s next on the horizon. Robert “Gus” Gustafson ’74, a retired entrepreneur who is now a Lehigh adjunct professor and research scientist for the university’s Enterprise Systems Center, chatted with bioengineering major Piyasha Sarkar ’21 about her thoughts on pursuing summer research at the center.

As the Class of 1974 Endowed Scholarship Fund recipient, Sarkar remarked that it was very important to her family that she receive scholarship assistance for the financial stability it provided because her sister was also attending Lehigh at the time.

“I am super-grateful to have the opportunity to receive a scholarship. Without it, I would not have been able to choose Lehigh, which was my dream school,” said Sarkar. “If I am able to, I plan to help someone else because of the impact that my scholarship is making on me.”

Jill Triani ’94, president of the Lehigh University Alumni Association, and Jamie Flinchbaugh ’94 enjoyed spending time with their scholarship recipient Emily Randolph ’19. Triani, who stays in touch with several past recipients, thought the presentation gave perspective into students’ thoughts about how they are not just part of the Lehigh family, but part of the family that is sponsoring their scholarship.

Flinchbaugh noted that there are so many unique needs for scholarship support. Being able to provide for what you personally care about—just as the Schaufelds have by supporting the international students from the King’s Academy—is a very thoughtful way to give back to Lehigh.

Story by Dawn Thren ’21P

Click here to view the video shown at the Scholarship Celebration.

Click here to view more photos.

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