Grace the  LUPD therapy dog

Detective Lt. David Kokinda uses a TiCK MiTT on Grace, one of the Lehigh University Police Department's K9 therapy dogs.

The Paths Taken

A letter from the editor

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Some of the details of Ryan Hydro’s life read like the lyrics of a country music song—job loss, heartbreak, sleepless nights. Turns out, those were just the kind of life experiences to drive Hydro ’95 ’98G ’03 Ph.D. to songwriting success.

I learned about Hydro, who earned his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering at Lehigh, in this issue’s Class Notes, which are always chock-full of interesting alumni updates. Hydro co-wrote “Merry Christmas from The Keys,” a cut on country music artist Jon Pardi’s project.

Intrigued, I reached out to Hydro to learn: Though he had always loved music and writing, songwriting is a side job; he works full-time as a director of process development at a telecommunications equipment company not far from Lehigh. After losing a job and ending a relationship, and prior to pursuing his doctorate, he put his emotions on paper. He couldn’t sleep; ideas for inventions and what seemed like poetry popped into his head. His words had a cadence, so he bought a book on songwriting and joined Nashville Songwriters International. He is now at the stage of getting sync placements in film and TV and major label artist cuts.

Hydro’s story, fun in the telling, is indicative of the diverse paths of Lehigh’s outstanding alumni.

This issue highlights many of their accomplishments—an alum who helps manage the cyber infrastructure for research vessels around the world; the former war correspondent who recounts his experiences in a new book; and the marine wildlife photographer who works to inspire the next generation of conservationists. The issue also features the Lehigh Ventures Lab and the several entrepreneurs it supports—alumni, as well as faculty and students, in the early stages of launching ventures, including the founders of the dating app fuse and the tick protection product TiCK MiTT. As Future Makers, Lehigh’s alumni are making it new, making a difference, and making it together.

No doubt that as students here you spent considerable time in the Clayton University Center. I’m sure you will enjoy “Secret Rooms and Artifacts” about the drawings, fossils and other items that workers found during its renovation. Perhaps you can shed light on the discoveries.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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