“Why I Remain Close to Lehigh” is a collection of feature stories about Lehigh University alumni volunteers and their motivation to stay involved with their alma mater. The group of alumni were interviewed by Klaudia Jazwinska ’18 and Carina Bonasera ’19.
The walls of the apartment of Matt Raborn ’13 ’14G are covered in Lehigh memorabilia — scarves from the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry game, his diplomas, and other mementos in brown and white collected over the years.
“I have a whole bunch of Lehigh stuff, and people joke with me like, ‘Oh, do you go to Lehigh?’ It does kind of give me a sense and reminder of how much I appreciate what Lehigh has done for me. I realize I would not be in the position I am in right now if it wasn’t for the education and experiences that I received,” Raborn said.
Raborn was attracted to Lehigh’s industrial engineering program because he considered it a broad, multi-faceted area of study that he could apply to almost any job. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2013, and his master’s degree in management science and engineering from Lehigh in 2014. Now a supply chain specialist at the pharmaceutical company Merck, he credits his success with the opportunities and experiences he had in the engineering department, which he feels allowed him to “hit the ground running” in the real world.
Raborn also thrived outside of academics and was very active as a student. His involvement includes being a Gryphon, a member of the Association of Student Alumni, a member of Phi Delta Theta, and he worked as a student phonathon caller. He was also a Rossin Jr. Fellow, where he served as a peer tutor, gave campus tours to high-performing incoming students, and participated in volunteer work with the community.
Raborn continued his involvement with Lehigh after he graduated. He is a member of the Lehigh University Young Alumni Council (YAC), a volunteer with Alumni Admissions Outreach, and a member of the Greek Alumni Council.
“I do it because I enjoy it and like to stay in touch. And a lot of the things I’ve gotten out of Lehigh — not just from an educational perspective but from a social and a general kind of life-mentoring perspective — a lot of that came through alumni interactions. I want to be able to give back to the current students at Lehigh, to allow them the same opportunities that I had when I was there,” he said.
Raborn also makes it a tradition to return to reunion and connect with friends at their alma mater. “It’s really the only time of year we get together, and if we have the opportunity to get together, and we have Lehigh, it’s kind of a best-of-both-worlds situation,” he said.
He emphasized how it felt to return to campus and see the improvements to academic buildings and resources, to experience the new opportunities that current and future students will have, and know that he contributed to it.
“I think a lot of campus has changed,” he said, citing the renovation of Williams Hall into an on-campus global hub as one of the most notable transformations. “You get to see all this cool stuff Lehigh has done since you left. And if you give back to the university, you have a hand in making those things happen, creating those opportunities.”
— Carina Bonasera ’19
Photo by John E. Harry, Photographic Arts