Orientation leader Claire Pickering '25 creates her bLUeprint during an orientation leader activity. A California native, Pickering chose an airplane to represent her journey to Lehigh.

Updated bLUeprint Enhances Student Life Outside the Classroom

Entering its 10th year, bLUeprint was updated to include five new foundations.

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

First-year students have an updated framework to help them navigate their time at Lehigh.

Just as professors have a syllabus for their classroom, Lehigh students have the opportunity to develop a plan and goals for their learning outside the classroom, said Stefanie Burke, assistant dean and director of First-Year Experience.

That planning process is called bLUeprint, and while it’s been around for 10 years, it has been updated to reflect a new set of values students can reflect on during their day-to-day life at Lehigh.

The program draws upon five foundations to help students draft a bLUeprint about who they are and what they want to get out of their Lehigh experience. It’s a “student life curriculum,” said Burke, explaining that while other colleges conduct curricular work outside of the classroom, Lehigh was the first to engage in this work across departments. By identifying personal values, support systems and goals, students are able to better learn about themselves while also making more intentional decisions about what they do their first year and beyond.


Delfina Szigethy '25, an orientation leader, displays her bLUeprint.

“The new foundations consider the ever-changing world we live in, challenging students to adapt to new environments, learn from failures and take risks. They emphasize that we have to take care of ourselves and each other through healthy connections,” Burke said. “We challenge students to go further in critical consciousness, to understand and analyze societal structures and systems of oppression, and to take action toward social change.”

The new foundations are:

Creative Curiosity: Encourages the exploration of new ideas and concepts. Students develop the skills necessary to be lifelong learners and innovative problem solvers.

Self-Concept: Encourages students to strengthen their self-worth by understanding their identity and values and expressing themselves authentically.

Healthy Connections: Begin with taking care of yourself. They push students to reflect on their healthy and unhealthy connections, identify their personal needs and boundaries, and navigate relationships with empathy for themselves and others.

Critical Consciousness: The ability to understand and analyze societal structures and systems of oppression, and to take action toward social change. Challenges students to see the ways in which systems can perpetuate inequality, injustice and oppression.

Strategic Adaptability: Recognizes that we are all navigating in constantly changing environments. The goal is for students to build skills in problem solving, flexibility and decision making by learning from failures and taking risks.

While students aren’t required to complete a bLUeprint, Burke said the Office of First-Year Experience is encouraging students to do so. All first-year students get a draft book to help them come up with a bLUeprint and the language of the five foundations is incorporated into the first-year calendar and other programs.

Students can learn more about the new bLUeprint during Foundation Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6 when a table will be set up on the lawn of the STEPS Building with information. A similar event will take place 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library.


Angelo Cerminara '25 works on a bLUeprint during an orientation exercise in the spring.

The Division of Student Affairs is incorporating language from the new foundations into more programming and will raise awareness through events and signs around campus highlighting the new foundations.

“We want folks to learn more about themselves, be more intentional, be able to lead a community in a meaningful way and be curious and engaged learners learning outside the classroom,” Burke said. “We hope common language will aid more in what we want to do.”

The decision was made to update the five foundations because the world has changed so much since bLUeprint was first started a decade ago, Burke said.

“If you think about the world, there’s COVID, women’s rights, the war in Ukraine, gun violence and Black Lives Matter,” she said. “All this stuff has happened in the world in the last decade and it was time for an upgrade.”

One of the foundations added since the pandemic is “strategic adaptability,” which asks students to think about how they cope with change, uncertainty and stress.

Lehigh’s leaders want students to recognize the ways in which systems perpetuate inequality, injustice and oppression, and they want students to create positive change in the community, goals Burke thinks will be aided by the new foundations.

Orientation leaders were required to make a bLUeprint with the new foundations during their spring training. Claire Pickering ’25, a California native, drew an airplane on poster board to represent her journey to Lehigh and wrote the five foundations on different parts of the plane.

“It has encouraged me to look holistically at my Lehigh experience and take action on how I want it to be,” she said.

Orientation leader Luke Kaiser ’26 created a drawing of his first-year residence Drinker Hall for his bLUeprint. He says bLUeprint gives students a way to relate to each other, “I think bLUeprints are a good guideline to success for Lehigh students,” he said.

The strategic adaptability foundation encouraged Kaiser to think about his goals when he decided to change majors from management to journalism.

“I think the reason it’s so useful for all students is that everyone has their own journey. Everyone gets to shape their own college experience, and that’s what makes Lehigh such a great university,” Kaiser said. “Lehigh has so many opportunities for students to really make their college experience what they want it to be.”

Story by

Christina Tatu

Photography by

Christa Neu

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