Originally from Medellin, Colombia and a fifteen-year resident of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Young Alumni Council member Juan Palacio Moreno ’16 ’17G graduated from Lehigh with degrees in political science and is currently working for the City of San Francisco as a “San Francisco Fellow.” As a “San Francisco Fellow”, Juan is part of a one-year immersive fellowship where recent college graduates have the opportunity to work full-time for a city department, while gaining a unique “behind-the-looks” observation of how a city operates alongside seventeen other fellows.
Why did you decide to attend Lehigh?
JPM: I initially wanted to go as far away as possible for college. Naturally, I chose Lehigh. Despite an initial feeling of reverse-homesickness, the decision ended up being the greatest one of my life.
Who was your favorite professor at Lehigh?
JPM: Dr. Rick Matthews in the Department of Political Science. From the very first day of POLS 100 my first year, Dr. Matthews pushed me to constantly question my presumptions and inspired an academic tenacity within me. As his teaching assistant during my Master’s program, I learned how to keep students engaged and interested in learning (although my Socratic method does not compare to his).
What was your favorite course at Lehigh?
JPM: My favorite course at Lehigh was POLS 100. It was the first time in my life where a seventy person class was taught entirely through questions, and I was constantly on the edge of my seat.
What organizations or groups were you involved in during your time at Lehigh? How did your involvement impact your Lehigh experience?
JPM: I was involved in various organizations, but the ones I wish to highlight are Greek Life (KA) and Global Citizenship. The friends I made through my fraternity have consistently surprised me with their loyalty and passions. While Greek Life needs to reassess its priorities and missions to avoid tragic episodes like the one that occurred at Penn State, I am proud to have been a member of an organization that produced the best friends I have ever known. Global Citizenship was by far the most impactful experience in my four years at Lehigh. The opportunity to experience a new world with a cohort of diverse students between colleges and return to campus to share that experience through a carefully organized curriculum changed the way I viewed the world around me.
What is your favorite Lehigh memory as a student?
JPM: Despite the circumstances, I never felt more proud to be a Lehigh student then during the rally my senior year following the imposition of a travel ban by the current administration. It proved Lehigh students were engaged and supportive, and dispelled the myth of an apolitical campus.
Which fan base do you enjoy teasing more: Lafayette fans or Duke fans?
JPM: Lafayette — I’m too young to have fully embraced the “Duke mania” and being from the Lehigh Valley I experience Lafayette fans more frequently.
If you had to pick one Lehigh/Bethlehem “delicacy” to eat for the rest of your life (guilt-free), what would it be?
JPM: Jenny’s Kuali over anything else. 1) The food is absolutely delicious. 2) It’s a great vegetarian option during Lent. 3) Most importantly, Jenny is one of the nicest women I have ever met and she is dedicated to both her craft and the customers that are blessed to enjoy it.
What is your favorite Lehigh item that you own?
JPM: My first Lehigh-Lafayette Rivalry ticket from senior year of high school.