Mehta, co-principal investigator of PlasTech Ventures, said projects that make a real impact in the world are important for myriad reasons.
“You're developing your skill sets, your mindsets and your portfolio,” Mehta said. “So when Adrian graduates [he can say], ‘Oh, I was part of a project that launched this whole community-scale recycling concept and business in the Philippines’…And that's a wonderful story to tell.”
Since the project took place so near to his home, Suarez took the opportunity to make a surprise visit to his mother, Marilette Suarez. It had been a year since the two had last seen each other.
“There are certain hugs that just...that you feel the loving kindness from a parent who misses you and wishes the best for you and sacrifices their heart and soul for you,” Suarez said.
Suarez enlisted a friend from home to pick him up from the airport and take him to a chapel that he and his mother regularly attended.
“That experience...it happened in the very chapel where me and my mom always went to pray,” Suarez said. “She was sitting in the very pew where I would go to every single day after school and during high school, just meditate and pray and talk to Jesus. For it to have happened where it happened, [there is] no logical explanation. And I believe it was a blessing. It was very miraculous, and [I am] incredibly grateful.”
Suarez and his mother keep in close contact, calling every Sunday.
“She’s a mentor, the best mentor I could possibly have, the best friend I could possibly have,” Suarez said.
Besides his studies in economics, Suarez is a Gryphon, the president of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), the vice president of Club Relations of the Global Union, the vice president of the Lehigh Multi-Faith Initiative, and a student representative for the University Bible Fellowship. He plans to get a master’s in economics and an MBA, to do a few years of consulting work, and to eventually open his own business.
Suarez recognized the drive and passion of the people he worked with, including students Rob Smith ’20, a finance and design double major; Andy Fugh ’21, a mechanical engineering major; Ellie Falk ’21, an IDEAS major; Devin Yeatter ’21, a political science major and faculty Khanjan Mehta, Ganesh Balasubramanian, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics; Donald Morris, an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Brian Slocum, the managing director of Wilbur Powerhouse Design Labs; and Wesley Heiss, an associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Art, Architecture, and Design. Through those relationships, he believes he learned impactful lessons.
“[I learned] that to make a meaningful impact requires intense effort, a humble spirit, willingness to collaborate, and a work ethic that basically says, ‘let’s do more,’” Suarez said.
Story by Tabitha Nowak