Lehigh 360 graduates

Lehigh recently celebrated the graduation of its inaugural class of Lehigh 360 Scholars.

Lehigh Celebrates the Graduation of its First Lehigh 360 Scholars

Sixteen Graduates Ready to Impact the World.

In a ceremony on May 6, Lehigh celebrated the graduation of its inaugural class of Lehigh 360 Scholars, a cohort of 16 students who were nominated from the university’s high-impact programs to help meet the goals of Lehigh’s strategic plan.

“The students we honor today exemplify the very reasons we initiated Lehigh 360 and embody all the student outcomes that it is intended to support,” said Bill Whitney, assistant vice provost for experiential learning programs.

Lori Kennedy, senior director for career and professional development, said, “This evening is not just a celebration of academic achievement; it's a testament to our collaborative efforts in preparing our students for meaningful careers beyond Lehigh.

“The Center for Career and Professional Development has been committed from the start to ensure that Lehigh students are equipped not only with knowledge but with practical skills and connections that open doors worldwide,” she said. “Seeing our students ready to take on the world reinforces the impact of our collective work at Lehigh and underscores the importance of integrated educational experiences that stretch beyond the classroom.”

The ideation of Lehigh 360 began with the launch of the Creative Inquiry Office in 2017, to help ensure equity in student access to high-impact opportunities at Lehigh and to challenge students to think beyond their future employers and to focus instead on solving significant global problems.

With the release of the strategic plan, Lehigh 360 resonated with key initiatives, such as "A Lehigh for Everyone" and "A Lifelong Lehigh."

In October 2023, Lehigh 360 launched a searchable database of the university’s high-impact opportunities.

“What outcomes do our graduates achieve?” Whitney asked. “Are they finding happiness and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives? How much of their success is rooted in and developed from their experiences here? Furthermore, how are they leveraging these experiences to influence and engage with current students?”

The graduating Lehigh 360 scholars answered those questions and provided compelling testimonies of their experiences within the programs. The students shared their personal reflections, highlighting their biggest takeaways from Lehigh, favorite memories from impactful experiences, post-graduation plans and advice for fellow students. They also spoke about the transformative power of Lehigh’s interdisciplinary programs and how the experiences have prepared them not only for successful careers but also for making meaningful contributions to society.

Brooke Erickson ‘24, a double major in psychology and health, medicine, and society, with a minor in global health, was nominated by Khanjan Mehta, vice provost for creative inquiry. Recognized as an empathetic researcher and global health innovator, Erickson participated in the Global Social Impact Fellowship program and completed the Uganda Sustainable Livelihoods Research Program, an Iacocca International Internship in Chile and a study abroad program.

Erickson credited the close relationships between faculty and students at Lehigh with helping her carve her own path to pursue her interests in health.

“Faculty here at Lehigh truly advocate for you and support your personal and professional growth,” she said. “The most valuable aspect of these high-impact programs is that they take you out of the classroom. You step into other people's shoes, learn their stories, and see how that knowledge can inform solutions to their challenges.”

Erickson will pursue a Master of Public Health, with a focus on Global Health, at the University of Washington. She said her choice is deeply influenced by her experiences at Lehigh, including the Iacocca International Internship Program, Global Social Impact Fellowship and Professor Kelly Austin’s Uganda Sustainable Livelihoods Program.

Zena Meighan ‘24, majoring in East Asian Studies, was nominated by Antonio Ellison II, assistant director of study abroad diversity initiatives.

Meighan spent nine months in Japan through OIA’s program and came to realize the world's vast possibilities.

“It was transformative, showing me that life isn’t just something that happens to you; you can actively shape it,” she said.

Meighan described meeting Ellison as life-changing. 'It was the first time someone outside my immediate community showed me the possibilities in life and the paths available to me,' she said.

Departing to Japan on July 27, Meighan has secured an assistant teaching position there. She said she is grateful to Lehigh for the inspiring opportunities and the exceptional faculty.

Will Yaeger ‘24, an IDEAS major, was nominated by Trish Alexy, manager of the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise.

Yaeger said he was grateful for Lehigh's world-class opportunities, mainly through programs from Creative Inquiry, Martindale and the Gryphon Society.

He reflected on what he said was his most transformative experience—participating in the Global Social Impact Fellowship (GSIF) in Sierra Leone, where he and his team worked on low-tech mushroom cultivation.

"We realized we could build something in Sierra Leone that might truly transform the local economy and improve lives, including our own. As a sophomore, having the opportunity, resources, and knowledge to do this was a watershed moment for me,” Yaeger said. “It underscores what's so unique about the Creative Inquiry programs and other high-impact programs at Lehigh—they empower students to engage in meaningful, real-world work. It's not just about learning; it's about evolving into the person you aspire to be by actually being that person."

Yaeger encouraged students to explore Lehigh's many programs through Lehigh 360’s online database. He says it’s never too late in your journey to make an impact.

Yaeger plans to continue his impactful work in Peru through a Fulbright scholarship.

Oluwafunmbi Ojo ‘24, majoring in behavioral neuroscience and Health, Medicine, and Society, was nominated by Neal Simon, professor of biological sciences, and Vassie Ware, professor of molecular biology & co-director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Bioscience Program.

"Embrace the unfamiliar and don't hesitate to try something new because you never know where it may lead you,” Ojo said. “Even if you don't like some aspects at first, there is always passion to be discovered. Remember, the sky is the limit, but reaching it requires intentional effort. Be willing to take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and pursue your aspirations with determination."

“Witnessing our students excel, transform and prepare to lead in various sectors is profoundly inspiring. These young leaders have not just met but exceeded the goals of 'Making Something New,' 'Making a Difference,' and 'Making it Together,' embodying the spirit of innovation, collaboration and purposeful work that Lehigh 360 aims to foster,” Michelle Spada, program manager for Lehigh 360, says. “The evening was an incredible testament to our Future Makers and to the faculty, staff and high-impact programs across campus that provide these signature opportunities for our Lehigh students.”

The 16 Lehigh 360 Scholars who graduated in 2024 are listed in alphabetical order:

Abigail Vogel: computer science and business major; nominated for the Rossin Junior Fellows

Amber Brose: political science & women, gender and sexuality studies major; nominated for Marcon Mountain Hawk Fellowship

Brooke Erickson: psychology & Health, Medicine and Society major; Nominated for Global Social Impact Fellowship

Cole Becker: IDEAS major; nominated for theatre productions

Emily Schmidt: IDEAS major; nominated for LehighSiliconValley

Fenet Demissie: IDEAS major; nominated for Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience Program (RARE)

Funmbi Ojo: behavioral neuroscience & Health, Medicine and Society Major; nominated for Rapidly Accelerated Research Experience Program (RARE)

Isabella Federico: bioengineering major; nominated for Rossin Junior Fellows

Josie Krepps: IDEAS major; nominated for Clare Booth Luce Research Scholarship

Juliana Kilgore: theater and Earth and environmental science major; nominated for theater productions

Kyra Boston: civil engineering major; nominated for Martindale Student Associates Honors Program

Nahjiah Miller: journalism major; nominated for Global Social Impact Fellowship

Paola Lebron: international relations and French language and literatures major; nominated for Office of International Affairs Summer Fellowship Program

Samantha Jahrmarkt: economics major; nominated for: Lehigh 360
Will Yaeger: IDEAS major; nominated for Martindale Student Associates Honors Program

Zena Meighan: East Asian studies major; nominated for Office of International Affairs Summer Fellowship Program

Story by Haidan Hu

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