Class of 2025 Moves In, Returns to More Traditional Experience

More than 1,500 first-year students joined the Lehigh family this week, moving into residential halls and attending orientation activities.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Daniela Collins ’25 moves in with help from her family

Daniela Collins ’25 unloads her belongings from her family's car on Wednesday and is helped by her boyfriend, brother and mom, Elsa.

All moved in, Luqmaan Shaikh ’25 strolled across the Clayton University Center lawn Thursday morning toward a banner welcoming the Class of 2025 to get a photo with his mother, Shehnaaz, before she returned home to San Francisco, Calif.

Living in the more temperate Bay Area, and with Florida as the only East Coast state he had ever visited, Shaikh acknowledged the change in seasons in South Bethlehem will be one of his many new experiences. His mother, who had not heard of Lehigh prior to her son applying and getting accepted, confessed she was apprehensive about her son going to school across the country at an unfamiliar place.

But after moving her son into Lehigh, touring the campus and chatting with Lehigh staff and other students, most of Shehnaaz’s concerns disappeared. One that remained was whether her son would need winter clothes before the end of the fall semester and if she should take him shopping for cold-weather apparel before heading back to the West Coast.

Luqmaan Shaikh ’25 and his mother Shehnaaz

 Luqmaan Shaikh ’25 and his mother, Shehnaaz, outside of Lehigh's University Center on Thursday.

“Just coming here and exploring and seeing how everyone's really friendly and approachable, I'm actually quite reassured as a parent,” Shehnaaz said. “I think he's going to be really well supported here. I don't see that he's going to fall through the cracks. There's a faculty mentor, his academic mentor, the whole dorm system, I'm quite comfortable leaving him here.”

Shaikh said he was enjoying the beauty of the campus but also getting used to the hills while he waited for his roommate, who was arriving later Thursday.

In all, more than 1,500 first-year students, speaking 63 different languages in addition to English, arrived on campus this week representing 43 states and 29 different countries.

Cars outside of Iacocca Hall checking in

Two lines of cars with first-year students and their families check in outside of Iacocca Hall on Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus Thursday morning.

The process for first-year students more closely resembled a traditional Lehigh move-in experience, although some precautions remained in place due to COVID-19. For a second straight year, a drive-through check-in was held for all students outside Iacocca Hall on the Mountaintop Campus. Two lanes of vehicles passed in front of a large tent where Lehigh staff members were able to check students in and provide them with room keys. From there, students headed to their dorms on the Asa Packer Campus to unpack and get a first glance at their residence halls.

In a change from last August, there was no longer a limit on the number of family members allowed to assist with move-in and family members were allowed to stay on campus even after their student’s check-in time block ended.

“Parents and families have been incredibly understanding and cooperative about this process,”  Ozzie Breiner, director of Residential Services at Lehigh, said. “They unfortunately have to unload their own vehicles—we usually provide assistance—but because of the pandemic they're moving their own sons and daughters in. They understand it, and they're working quickly to create parking for the next group coming in, so it's really working out extremely well.”

Bryan Montenegro ’25 and his family

Bryan Montenegro ’25 (center, back) is helped by his family as he moved into his dorm room at Lehigh on Thursday.

While Lehigh’s MOOV (Made of Our Volunteers) representatives comprised of students, faculty and staff were unable to assist this year and last year due to safety precautions, Breiner said he expects one of the most popular aspects of Move-In Day to return as soon as the pandemic allows.

Breiner also noted more traffic this year since many first-year students last year had opted for a virtual semester. But because of a staggered move-in, which allowed first-year students to begin arriving over the weekend and up through Thursday morning, and check-in time blocks, Breiner said lines at Iacocca Hall were never long, if they existed at all.

The staggered move-in worked so well, Breiner said, it’s something Lehigh may consider doing even when all health and safety precautions are lifted.

Bryan Montenegro ’25 was one of many students excited that his first year of college would be a more traditional experience with fewer restrictions compared to last year.

Chris Krein '25 carries his belongings

Chris Krein '25 carries his belongings to his dorm room.

“It’s good to see there’s a lot of people here,” said Montenegro, who made the trip from Fair Lawn, N.J., with his parents and two brothers. “I was very worried with COVID if things were going to go back to at least what they used to be, because everything changed. But I’m glad to see this many people so I’m definitely excited. I’m looking forward to what’s coming.”

Daniela Collins ’25, of Allentown, Pa., had one of the quicker trips among students moving in this week. The short distance between home and campus helped her procrastinate—she didn’t start packing until 1 a.m. the morning she moved in— but she said it left her stressed and exhausted while unpacking and setting up her room. Although, she had help from her brother, boyfriend and mom, Elsa, as she settled into McClintic–Marshall.

“On the ride to campus [Wednesday] morning, I was excited and curious about the future ahead of me,” Collins said. “The thought of me going to college didn’t really set in until then. That thought quickly became a reality once I started unpacking in my new home. The homesick and fearful tears haven’t started yet, but doesn’t mean they won’t.”

For Elsa, director of Trustee Nominations and Stewardship at Lehigh, her daughter moving into college began to sink in getting in the car to drive to Lehigh after Collins’ goodbye breakfast with her high school friends. “In my head was the dreaded feeling of ‘we’re forgetting something,’” she said, “and the inevitable ‘oh my God, it is really happening. She’s going to college.’”

Daniella Collins ’25 and Maya Miserlian ’25

Roommates Daniella Collins ’25 (left) and Maya Miserlian ’25 move into McClintic–Marshall.

Once their vehicle parked outside Collins’ new home, Elsa said she was so focused on unpacking she was no longer thinking about how she was feeling, but the emotions returned when she said her goodbyes and left her daughter in her dorm.

Collins' roommate, Maya Miserlian ’25, of Centennial, Colo., arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday, moved into her room on Wednesday and was just as ready to get started at Lehigh. 

"While I was flying over here and moving in I was thinking about how excited I am to start this new chapter of my life," Miserlian said.

Starting her trip in Olathe, Kan., Bailey Flanagan ’25 began the drive to campus at 4 a.m. Tuesday, with her parents, and arrived in Bethlehem Wednesday night. Though she felt nervous after arriving in Bethlehem after the long drive, she said she felt better Thursday morning as her parents helped her unload their van and physically move her into the Centennial II Complex.

“It’s all a little overwhelming, but it’s exciting,” Flanagan said.

Bailey Flanagan ’25 and her parents

Bailey Flanagan ’25 moved into Lehigh on Thursday with help from her parents, Tim and Erica.

Joseph J. Helble ’82, who began his tenure as Lehigh’s 15th president earlier in the week, welcomed families of the Class of 2025 to the Lehigh family with a video message.

“This class is an exceptionally talented group, and as a parent myself, I know the important role you have played in your student’s journey,” Helble said. “Thank you for everything you’ve done to support and steer them along the way.”

Helble also acknowledged his Lehigh roots and recalled the impact the Lehigh community had on him during his time at the university as a student.

“I’m a proud alumnus, a graduate of the Lehigh Class of 1982 and I know well what this university has to offer each and every student,” Helble said. “I will tell you that Lehigh, the Lehigh community, the faculty, staff and students at the core of this great institution changed my view of what’s possible in life, and I am confident it will do the same for your students.”

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Related Stories

President Joseph Helble at Convocation

University Convocation Opens 2021-2022 Academic Year

Speakers encourage the Classes of 2025 and 2024 to find their passions, be curious and explore concepts beyond their academic cores.

Students on the Clayton University Center lawn

Rally, Move-In Kick Off 2021 Fall Semester

A special Rally and “Do it for the ‘Gram” were among the events on campus this weekend.

The Rally 2021 with alumni carrying class flags

The Rally Marks Milestone Lehigh Moment

Karen Stuckey ’75 represents Lehigh’s first coed class as it adopts the Class of 2025. It is also the first time that a woman alum presents an incoming class with its official flag.