All over America, new Lehigh students anxiously await their first day on campus. They may have diligently purchased textbooks and organized detailed packing lists, but the thing that prepared some of them the most for their Lehigh experience was attending a Student Sendoff.
In cities such as Denver, Tampa, Chicago, Boston, San Diego, and many places in between, members of the Class of 2019 and their parents engaged with Lehigh alumni, current students, and parents at Student Sendoffs. At these events each summer, new students and their families learn about Lehigh firsthand and discover the sheer enthusiasm that members of the Lehigh community have for their alma mater.
Moreover, this chance to ask current undergraduates questions helps incoming students feel more comfortable about the transition into college life at a place that may be far from home. The friendly introduction they receive shows the impact and significance that Lehigh holds in current students’ and alumni’s hearts, which extends far beyond their time while physically on campus. The Sendoffs are generously hosted every year by alumni or parents of current students in their homes or local venues.
Megan Stevens, Lehigh’s director of Regional and Affinity Strategy, said, “A big part of what makes Lehigh so special is its network, and the alumni are kind of a living, breathing example of that. For students to really get a chance to see how committed alumni are and the love they retain for Lehigh is a pretty special thing.”
Stevens also mentioned the positive affect that Sendoffs have on the families of incoming students and said, “Parents can see how warm and inviting the alumni community is when they’re getting ready to send their students off to school. It’s very important for the alumni to set the stage for the new students’ ongoing relationship with Lehigh.”
Since the Sendoffs are based on geographic locations, meeting current Lehigh students and alumni from their local area is a huge comfort factor for new students. Gaining those perspectives helps first-year students arrive ready to take full advantage of the many opportunities lying ahead for them. Sendoffs also introduce incoming students to each other who might have gone to neighboring high schools, thus expanding who they know even before they get to campus.
Jeff Hogg ’17, who attended his Sendoff as a first-year student and now served as a student volunteer at the Sendoff that his parents hosted in Mohnton, PA, said, “I really enjoyed my own, so I wanted to get involved to make sure other students would enjoy theirs, too.”
The hosts also have a good time. For the past three years, Jeff’s parents, Blair ’82 ’05G ’17P and Karen Hogg ’17P, have hosted the Southeast PA Sendoff which features his mom’s impressive Lehigh-themed candy buffet in addition to their barbeque dinner. With everything brown and white, the candy buffet includes delicious treats such as special-ordered brown and white M&Ms, chocolate and vanilla Twizzlers, nonpareils, and chocolate tootsie pops, as well as chocolate pudding with whipped cream, chocolate “brown and white” cookies, and chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.
The brown and white theme doesn’t end at the treats: brown balloons, white roses, and ribbons of both colors annually add festive Lehigh references throughout their house. She said with a laugh, “I go a little overboard.”
Due to the passionate dedication of the Sendoff hosts, there were 27 Student Sendoffs across the country this summer. Also contributing to the success of the events was the Lehigh alumni engagement staff who coordinated with admissions staff members to plan for each incoming class’s geographic region.
Referring to the welcoming hosts who sponsor the events, Stevens said, “Lehigh is very fortunate to have generous alumni and parents who are willing to support us. We really couldn’t do it without them.”