Young Alumni Council member and self-proclaimed data nerd Andi Howard-Rein ’11 ’12 (right) graduated from Lehigh with a Marketing degree in 2011 and a Psychology degree in 2012. Andi recently left her job as product manager at a non-profit to pursue a career in data analysis. When not buried in Excel spreadsheets, Andi enjoys running, baking, spending time with her husband, who is a fellow Class of 2011 alumnus, and son, and playing with their rescue dog.
Why did you decide to attend Lehigh? What were your feelings when you received your acceptance?
AHR: I wanted to attend a strong academic institution with a good business school that wasn’t far from my home in Central New Jersey. Lehigh fit that criteria. Although Lehigh wasn’t my first choice, I very quickly felt pulled to it once I visited and received my acceptance package. The second that booklet came in the mail, I found myself hoping I didn’t make it into my (previously) first choice, because then I’d have to make a decision which would be tougher than I had anticipated.
Who was your favorite professor at Lehigh?
AHR: Professor Gunter. I had him for ECO001…at 7:45 in the morning. He had a way of making economics come to life, with his real-world experience and interesting stories. He was tough, but fair. He also had a terrific sense of humor.
What was your favorite course at Lehigh?
AHR: I loved the Consumer Behavior class I took for marketing. It combined marketing and psychology in such a way that seemed like a natural fit.
What organizations or groups were you involved in during your time at Lehigh? How did your involvement impact your Lehigh experience?
AHR: I was a tutor/mentor for local high school students as part of STAR Academy, involved with Campus Ministry for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, and a member of Phi Sigma Pi Co-ed Honors Fraternity (PSP). I would say PSP dominated my Lehigh experience. I made numerous friendships through it, many of which I still maintain today even though we may be hundreds of miles apart. While at Lehigh, there was always somebody from PSP to hang out with, try new things with, or study with. PSP also allowed me to experience many things I otherwise wouldn’t have like stargazing through a very powerful telescope with an astronomy professor.
What is your favorite Lehigh memory as a student?
AHR: So many to choose from! It’s not a specific memory, but the feeling and mood around campus come Le-Laf week will always be special for me. There was just something in the atmosphere of the campus that set apart that week from any other week. It was like an unofficial holiday on campus. Everybody was giddy and in a good mood, professors seemed to lighten the workload so students could enjoy the festivities (got to love the bed races!), and there was an increased amount of brown and white apparel worn by students. Even though I’m no longer on campus, I still get that feeling starting the week before The Rivalry!
What about your Lehigh experience sparked your interest in what you do now?
AHR: I’m passionate about numbers, data, and digging in deep to find out the stories they tell. If I had to pinpoint one thing that sparked my interest, it would probably be the Buyer Behavior marketing class I took sophomore year. It was all about the intersection of Marketing and Psychology, and it started to get me interested in decoding people and what they do. As my career has progressed, I have become more interested in using data to figure out behavior, but this class is what initially lead me to see the connection between the two fields in which I ended up majoring.
What advice do you have for current students who are interested in your field?
AHR: Take as many classes outside of your domain as possible. If you have an interest in something not related to your major, explore it, because every industry has a market of people that needs to be understood, and data that needs to be decoded. So just because you may have studied marketing, that biology course you took could help you land a marketing research job in the pharmaceutical industry.
If you couldn’t work in your current profession, what area would you work in?
AHR: If I could do it all over again, I think I would probably pursue Computer Science. Albeit very small, I had a taste of programming at my last job, and I really enjoyed it.
As an alumna, how do you stay involved with Lehigh?
AHR: I go back to campus as much as I can. I’ve been a Lehigh football season ticket holder since graduating in 2012, so I go back at least a few times every fall. I also try to keep up-to-date with what’s going on at Lehigh, whether it’s through my membership on the Young Alumni Council (YAC) or following President Simon on Instagram.
Whether it is through donating time or money, why do you think it is important for you to stay involved and support Lehigh?
AHR: Whenever a college admits a student, they are taking a gamble on the student, regardless of the student’s past academic record. Lehigh took a gamble on me, and so it’s important to me to show my gratitude to the university for not only admitting me, but for all the opportunities it gave me while I was a student. I do this through some monetary donations, but mostly through my time. I tout the academic advantages of Lehigh as much as possible because the more people know about it, the more quality students it attracts, and that’s what will help the university grow.
What is your favorite Lehigh memory as an alumna?
AHR: I would have to say the Rivalry Game 150 at Yankee Stadium is probably my favorite memory as an alum. It was exhilarating to see Lehigh everywhere I turned during the week leading up to it. My somewhat-unknown alma mater was getting the attention of the major New York area. From Lehigh and Lafayette reps ringing the closing bell on Wall Street, to the Empire State building being half lit up with the good old Brown and White, to whole subway cars filled with Lehigh and Lafayette alumni going to the game, Lehigh was everywhere I turned. Every now and then I had encountered fellow alums outside of Lehigh, but never anything to this extent. It was a really awesome feeling to see just how large the Lehigh family is during Rivalry 150.
How do you stay in touch with fellow alumni?
AHR: I have a core group of Lehigh friends with whom I keep in touch. Whether we travel to see each other in person or video chat when we can’t hang out, we try to get together as much as possible. Usually we just relax and explore new board games or craft beers. Of course, there’s always a little bit of reminiscing, too!
Is there a particular place on campus that you must visit every time you return to campus?
AHR: A visit to Linderman Library is always a must! I spent so much time there that whenever I visit, it brings back so many memories — even ones that aren’t associated with the building. Also, no matter how many times I visit it, I always forget just how beautiful the building really is.
Tell us about an unexpected run-in you had with a fellow Lehigh alumnus/a.
AHR: I enjoy running, and try to do a few races each year. I don’t know if it’s through superstition or school pride (or both!), but I always wear a Lehigh shirt during my races. I inevitably hear at least one “Go Lehigh!” during every race. This small camaraderie is enough to help me push through the race, no matter how much I’m dragging. A few years ago when I had just moved to Cranford, I ran in a local 5K, wearing my typical Lehigh shirt. Because of my school-spirited superstition, I met two people who I found out were fellow alums. In a small town of about 25,000 people, I didn’t expect to find any other Lehigh alumni. It just goes to show that we’re everywhere!
Which fanbase do you enjoy teasing more: Lafayette fans or Duke fans?
AHR: I’d have to say Lafayette fans, if just for the fact that I run into them more than I do Duke fans. Plus, we play our Rivalry game against Lafayette each year, giving me a chance to rub in our wins over and over again.
If you had to pick one Lehigh/Bethlehem “delicacy” to eat for the rest of your life (guilt-free), what would it be?
AHR: A White Dragon from The Goose. I’ve never encountered a similar sandwich anywhere else, and even if I did, I’m sure they wouldn’t make it nearly as good as Tony does!
What is your favorite Lehigh item that you own?
AHR: I have a pair of Lehigh sweatpants that I bought freshman year and have worn to the ground. The elastic in the waist is broken, the drawstring is stretched out, and the bottoms of the pants are extremely frayed, but they are SO comfortable, and I refuse to throw them out (much to my husband’s annoyance!).