Robert Flowers plays guitar

Robert A. Flowers kept spirits up over social media with a series of musical performances.

Spreading Cheer: Music, Face Mask Donations and Comics

Faculty, students, staff and alumni looked for ways to help their communities.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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Amid the pandemic, faculty, students, staff and alumni looked for ways to help their communities, whether by delivering meals or donating face masks, and to lift spirits through music and the arts. The efforts were widespread, both virtual and in person. Here’s a snapshot of some of those endeavors.

Musical Reprieve

Robert Flowers, dean of the College and Arts and Sciences, kept spirits up over social media with a series of musical performances.

Elizabeth Cao ’21 (right) drops off masks at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Elizabeth Cao ’21 (right) drops off masks at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

He covered a teaching version of “I Will Survive,” wrote a Lehigh version of “Folsom Prison Blues” and an electric ukelele version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in honor of a colleague who retired.

Mask Donations

More than 100 of Lehigh’s Chinese students and their families raised money to buy nearly 15,000 N95 and surgical face masks from China, which they then donated to area hospitals, police and fire departments and Lehigh Dining Services.

Tiffany Jing Li, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, helped coordinate the effort with the students over the social media platform WeChat. 

 field hockey standout Sophie Leighton ’23

Field hockey standout Sophie Leighton ’23

Good Play

When the pandemic led to the cancellation of Lehigh’s spring athletic competitions, field hockey standout Sophie Leighton ’23 returned home to Larchmont, N.Y., to finish out the semester remotely.

She was determined to do something positive and helped deliver groceries to food banks in nearby New Rochelle, a COVID-19 epicenter. She also helped get prepared food to medical professionals.

Alea Oakman ’20 shared comics that related to how the pandemic changed student life

Alea Oakman ’20 shared comics that related to how the pandemic changed student life

Comic Relief

Some Lehigh students and faculty coped with the COVID-19 pandemic by drawing and sharing comics on social media.

Amy Forsyth, associate professor of design, was among those who drew comics that documented her daily life while social distancing.

Through Oakling, her cartoon alter-ego, Alea Oakman ’20 shared comics that related to how the pandemic changed student life.

“Making illustrations of Oakling really helps me to process what is going on in my life because I have to step outside myself to see it,” she said. “By taking a third-person perspective, I am better able to see that the scale of the problems I face is so much smaller than it seems.”

‘Dear Theodosia’

Brittany Crampsie ’13 ’14G, press secretary to  Pa. Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa Jr., rediscovered her love of playing the cello during the pandemic.

Brittany Crampsie ’13 ’14G

Brittany Crampsie ’13 ’14G shared her love of playing the cello.

One night, she recorded herself playing “Dear Theodosia” from Hamilton, posted it to Twitter, and received messages from friends, co-workers and strangers alike who thanked her for “a little piece of joy” during a scary day. People sent her videos of their children practicing their own instruments.

A few people asked for more videos. She continued playing her cello and sharing her music.

“It’s been a perfect outlet for me,” she has said, “and I’m grateful for the ability to share something that is bringing other people any amount of happiness.”

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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