Twenty-seven members of the Class of 2027 earned the full-tuition merit-based Soaring Together scholarships. Over the course of four years, this cohort will explore what’s possible in their own personal and professional development and then lead and mentor their classmates and future scholars. 

Learn a bit more about each scholar. Then learn how you might support future Soaring Together scholars.

Meet the scholars!


Kathryn Lynn stands in front of the pink blossoms outside Williams Hall.

Kathryn Lynn ’27

Lynn likes the tranquility that comes from painting tiny succulent pots and digging her hands in the dirt at the local Esperanza and Martin Luther King community gardens. That’s why she joined the Community Growers Club on campus. She has a passion for environmental issues and enjoys helping others. Lynn was involved in the sustainability club at her high school and knew the stress from a busy week at school could be transplanted when she was outside and helping things grow. 

She’s an avid runner and wants to join Lehigh’s president on his weekly morning runs, but healing from a recent stress fracture has slowed her down. She is planning to be on pace with him soon. In the meantime, she alleviates stress with a good book and some fun movies.

Classes: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology, Calculus II, Principles of Economics, Introduction to Chemical Principles

Why Lehigh?
Lynn already experienced graduation at Goodman Stadium – it’s where her high school held her commencement ceremony. Growing up 15 minutes from campus, she was often here for soccer training and summer leagues. While she applied to colleges at a greater distance away from home, Lehigh felt like home and a unique place despite being located in her hometown where she could learn from the diverse student body and accomplished professors. She sought a strong engineering program. The opportunities for Rossin with summer research made it stand out.

Lynn loves to attend meetings for the Society of Women Engineers. The organization helps her with career networking, resume building, and internship opportunities. She believes creating such spaces for women is important because they allow for confidence building. She enjoyed a similar space when she participated in chorale in high school. 

That’s how she feels about the color pink. She has reclaimed that hue as a power color. For years, she would wear pink on days she had a big exam. The color makes her look good and feel good … which has helped bring solid results on those exams. In the spirit of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, a favorite film of Lynn’s, pink helps her have faith in herself.

Emily Ky stands in the new HST building near a study nook.

Emily Ky ’27
Computer Science and Engineering

Ky is a “SEAL pup,” the name given to first- and second-year representatives in the Southeast Asia Lehigh (SEAL) club, which recently led an event on campus that drew over 50 people. Together they practiced the ancient Thai art of fruit carving. Armed with pearing knives, participants sliced into apples, grapes, and oranges. While shaping their art, SEAL shared the importance of SEA culture. Ky is also part of the Thai Laos Cambodian Alliance.

While she grew up in Doylestown, her parents are from Cambodia. Her family immigrated here, with many of her relatives living across the Greater Philadelphia region. Ky is very passionate about her culture and is proud to share it alongside other Southeast Asian students on campus.

Ky is also active in the campus chapter of Engineers without Borders. She currently serves on the project evaluation team and was previously a member of the engineering ethnography group. Next year, she will serve as the public relations chair, overseeing the newsletter, website, and social media.

Classes: Foundations of Discrete Structures and Algorithms, Programming and Data Structures, Probability and Statistics, Principles of Economics

Why Lehigh?
Despite living so close, the first time Ky ventured to the Lehigh Valley was during her visit to Lehigh. It was a hot day. Despite the hills and walking, she was infatuated with the campus beauty, small class sizes, and opportunities. Plus, it had the program she was most passionate about: computer science. She liked playing video games like the Kirby series and Stardew Valley and began to take an interest in learning how to code. Programming became a hobby until she could take classes in high school. She realized she wanted to do computer science when she got to take AP Computer Science A, learning Java and making her own projects in the class. She hopes one day to use her programming skills and project experience to develop software for social good.

Being a woman in computer science has at times felt a bit lonely. When she joined the Coding Club in high school, it was mostly male. But she still took charge; she and a female friend became the president and vice president. In 10th grade, the club had three girls. By her senior year, it was a 50-50 split. 

She found support for her interests by joining the Girls Who Code club, meeting other women in technology and holding workshops to improve her skills.

At Lehigh she has continued to trailblaze. Of course, she is part of the Women in Computer Science club. Beyond that, she participated in a hackathon on the Mountaintop campus where she and a team of friends tackled the challenge before them: improving mental health on campus. In the time allotted, Ky’s team launched a website that allowed students to submit positive affirmations and receive them based on what challenges they were experiencing, whether in school or personally. Having a team of mostly women hacking together was inspiring and illustrated the transformation happening in the field.

Kristin Lomuto stands near the pink trees surrounding Linderman Library.

Kristen Lomuto ’27

Lomuto is passionate about helping others. It’s why she is interested in a career in medical research. Today, those passions play out more so in community engagement programs. As a new member of Pi Beta Phi, she finds the sorority’s philanthropy rewarding. The young women support the Read > Lead > Achieve program and often hold fundraisers like volleyball tournaments and book fairs with the American Association of University Women.

She is also a member of Best Buddies on campus. Lomuto began working with that group in middle school. The organization is dedicated to creating one-on-one relationships with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In high school, she worked with teenagers with autism and adults with Down syndrome at summer camps and weekend camps. At Lehigh, club members hold monthly mixers for young adults on holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

Classes: Calculus II, Honors General Chemistry II, Principle of Economics, English 2: Research and Argument

Why Lehigh?
Lomuto’s older sister graduated from Lehigh in 2019. Still, Lomuto was not even considering the university as an option. She didn’t want to carry a sizable debt after graduating and was looking at state universities in New York. But upon learning about the Soaring Together scholarship, she investigated Lehigh and applied. When she earned the scholarship, she jumped in and has been very pleased with the decision based on class sizes, relationships with faculty, the sense of community, the values shared among students, and opportunities within her major. 

In addition to the Soaring Together scholarship, she was rewarded for her service work. During her senior year of high school, she was president of the American Red Cross Club. That year more than 200 pints of blood were donated, and she received a small grant from the New York Blood Center to help cover some of her college expenses.

In high school Lomuto was often the only girl in her computer science and advanced chemistry courses. She helped form a club called Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) and served as co-president. GEMS aimed to inspire girls to pursue their interest in STEM and to help them not to be discouraged by the predominantly male presence. They would conduct fun experiments in physics, chemistry, and robotics as well as invite guest speakers, like a female NASA engineer, to their after-school events. 

Lomuto also was active at a homeless shelter dedicated to assisting women who had escaped intimate partner violence. Each Wednesday night, Lomuto would go there to spend time with the children, giving their moms a break. Depending on the ages of the residents, she would play with children or talk with teens. She brought her passion for the place to school where she organized drives for food, supplies, and prom dresses.


Lily Paschke '27 wears a tie dye Lehigh T shirt and stands on campus near Williams Hall

Lily Paschke ’27
IDEAS: Environmental Engineering and Chemistry

Paschke likes to keep moving. She is currently training three days a week for a half marathon in Philadelphia. It will be her third race — she earned first place in her age division at a half marathon in Key West in January.

She started a new club on campus called Lehigh Skates for students who like to roller or inline skate. She has been a blocker on the Motown Junior Roller Derby team for the last eight years and is often seen cruising down the South Bethlehem Greenway.

She sails on the Detroit River and Lake Erie with her father.

As if land and water weren’t enough, Paschke is a 50-mile solo flight away from earning her pilot’s license. She hopes to take to the skies in the Lehigh Valley and wrap that up.

But that’s not all … she is a member of Engineers Without Borders on campus and next year will serve as its outreach chair. She will serve as a counselor at Camp Hawk, whisking first-year students up to the Poconos for a weekend “summer” camp during the third week of their Lehigh experience. Paschke is learning to play bridge with a retired professor and readily admits that the game is harder than Calculus II. And soon, maybe, she will be on stage, having performed since she was four years old in plays and musicals, even competing in the Junior Theater Festival.

Classes: Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Calculus II, Introduction to Biology, IDEAS Seminar

Why Lehigh?
During Paschke’s junior year in high school, her adviser had her take a test to see what schools might best align with her interests and personality. Nine schools rose to the top of the list with a wide geographic range, including Texas, Colorado, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. She toured quite a few. When she was on South Mountain, the temperatures were in the 30s, it was hailing, and she felt sick. But she also knew she had found her school. Paschke loved the campus and the green space. She loved how the tour guide was stopped by students and staff to say hi, ask questions, and talk. It just made the campus feel like a place where genuine connections grow.

Paschke understands that oppression is just as hard for the oppressor as it is for the oppressed, which is why she is working to help men burdened by the weight of patriarchy. She is passionate about mental health and men, knowing that men are more likely to die by suicide. She thinks that is tied to the role they play in our culture, which also forms the basis for a common stigma that real men don’t seek help for mental health. She discussed that stigma with the boys in her high school and is focusing on it at Lehigh as she works alongside the Center for Gender Equity.

Olivia Meyer '27 wears a white sweater and stands in the hallway at STEPS

Olivia Meyer ’27
Mechanical engineering

Meyer has played soccer since elementary school. When she came to Lehigh, she still wanted to kick it as a center forward by joining the women’s club soccer team. Practices are twice a week with games against a variety of colleges and universities across the region. She was happy to net a few goals during the fall season while making friends across campus. 

She also wants to make friends across the world. That’s where Engineers Without Borders comes into play. She is leading a project to evaluate a water pipeline in the Dominican Republic. She has been calculating flow rates to make the pipeline serve a school and community.

Classes: General Physics I, Engineering Materials and Processes, Principles of Economics, Probability and Statistics

Why Lehigh?
Meyer’s grandfather grew up in Pennsylvania and often sang the praises of Lehigh’s engineering program. When her older sister began to look at colleges, Meyer tagged along. Lehigh was one stop on the tour. Once on campus, Meyer knew then that Lehigh felt right. When her family followed the campus tour guide into Linderman Library, Meyer turned to her sister and called “dibs.” While Meyer was just a freshman in high school, Lehigh stayed on her radar. 

When she learned about the Creative Inquiry program, her commitment to Lehigh was firm. She has since become a Global Social Impact Fellow, working on the research team dedicated to maternal health in Sierra Leone. Meyer previously traveled to the country for three weeks during summer 2023 with the family of her close friend, who had recently moved back to the country. Meyer visited with them and observed the country’s presidential election. She plans to return to the country this summer with Lehigh to conduct field work with her team. 

When her uncle asked her to join Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts, Meyer  jumped all in, along with her sister and their cousin. Over the course of a year and a half, they earned Eagle and joined the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts. It wasn’t always easy — whether it was the pace of the work or an experience winter camping in the polar vortex of the Chicago area. But she endured and even visited high-adventure locations in New Mexico and the Florida Keys. Her Eagle project had her organizing a team and resources to transform the floor of a teen center — stripping paint, painting a mural on it, and sealing it.

It was the same teen center where she shared her love of robotics. Meyer participated in robotics from fourth grade to senior year. The robots had to perform tasks like shooting a ball, picking up hoops, or climbing monkey bars. Her high school team had more than 100 members, organized into subteams. 

During her senior year, Meyer was the leader of the machining team, responsible for fabricating the metal parts with the lathe, mill, band saw, and miter saw. Her team made it to the world competition junior and senior year and advanced to the quarterfinals in her junior year. 

Her goal with both robotics and Scouts was simple: to get more girls to participate and take on leadership roles. She sought ways to carve out a space for herself in activities traditionally dominated by males … and in the process demonstrated a path for the women coming after her.

Clara McAuley '27 stands in front of the statue outside Zoellner Arts Center

Clara McAuley ’27
Biology and Creative Writing

McAuley has a busy summer of travel in front of her. She plans to return to Oregon and prepare for her book commitments. First Matter Press will publish her first chapbook of poems, entitled Suspended in My Insecticide Jar, in September. Prior to release, she will help with final galley proofs, cover art, and promotion plans. The 28 poems span a range of subjects: feminism, queerness, and mental health. 

She also plans a two-week trip to Arizona where she will complete an accelerated certificate program in emergency medical services. As a student in the pre-med major, she currently serves on Lehigh EMS and previously participated in ambulance ride-alongs during the Lehigh pre-orientation program, PreLUsion.

Finally, she will travel to Italy for fun — her grandmother surprised the family with a trip.

Classes: Calculus II, Introduction to Biology, Chemistry 31, Introduction to Psychology, Costume Construction II

Why Lehigh?
A college on the East Coast seemed to be in McAuley’s future. Lehigh fell on her radar when the admissions representatives visited her high school and intrigued her. McAuley has a range of interests: science and performance, health and creativity. Lehigh allowed her to do both.

She created costumes for student shows at her high school and has worked to do the same for two shows at Lehigh. When shows weren’t happening because of COVID-19, McAuley strung two bedsheets on the crossbar of a soccer goal and taught herself how to climb up, twist, and unfurl as an aerial silk performer. She enhanced those skills at Portland’s Echo Theater Company. She did all of this while also serving as a bilingual tutor, helping elementary and middle school students with math and English. 

This range of skills made Lehigh feel like home when she visited for a scholarship dinner and Lehigh Fest, an admitted students event. Lehigh’s commitment to equity through the Soaring Together Scholarship also was a perfect fit.

Tutoring in Spanish at a different school helped McAuley recognize the bubble of similar lived experience at her own high school. So she decided to help expand that bubble by creating an anti-racist education database. At Lehigh, she is involved in the Center for Gender Equity and Students for Justice in Palestine. She also started her own club called Angry Girl Poetry. The club is open to all genders and all styles of poetry. She helps host workshops where participants ready poetry, write from prompts, and read justice-centered pieces. Her poems balance narrative with the surreal.


Lucy Rogers stands in the hallway before the entrance to Lucy's Cafe

Lucy Rogers ’27


Growing up in Kentucky, Rogers spent a lot of time outdoors. It had less to do with the beauty of the natural terrain and more to do with her parents’ philosophy: Rogers was only allowed to watch TV on Friday nights and Saturday mornings, she had a flip phone through middle school, and she couldn’t have social media accounts. While the restrictions had their challenges, she appreciates what they allowed her to do.

She was a co-founding member of her all-girl Scouting troop – one of only two all-girl troops in the area. Rogers earned the rank of Life Scout in three years while her best friend earned Eagle. Together, they loved camping and kayaking. Naturally, she’s a member of the Outing Club at Lehigh and works to go on each adventure – despite how quickly some event registrations fill up.

Reading filled her time as a child as well, so Rogers has joined a Book Club on campus and, just for fun, is re-reading the Percy Jackson series as well as streaming the first season of the show on Disney+. 

Next year she plans to dive back in the water and join the Swim Club. Rogers swam competitively for years, but this year she focused on a successful transition to campus. Part of that success has come in the form of strong friendships and the sisterhood she’s found with Pi Beta Phi.

Classes: Biology, Honors General Chemistry, Calculus III, Anthropology

Why Lehigh?
While a school counselor recommended Lehigh, Rogers had already found it by searching for pretty colleges in the Northeast. She toured campus as a junior in high school. Although she applied to a handful of schools, her return visit for the admitted student event, Lehigh Fest, confirmed what she knew. It was a beautiful day in April with a campus blanketed in blue sky and, more importantly, the people in Admissions showed how much they cared about who she was. That care, in fact, was something she saw everywhere.

Rogers is considering moving her vote from Kentucky to Pennsylvania since she now resides in a battleground state. She believes that equity starts at the polls. It’s where people can be heard. It’s where resources can be allocated. Real change comes from laws, so she never likes to hear that voting doesn’t matter. She believes that in a democratic nation, the failure to participate can impact many lives. She works to get young people registered to vote and active at the polls. Her involvement in mock government in high school had her come to Lehigh early to attend PreLUsion where she visited the United Nations, met with a diplomat, and took in the scope and power of the General Assembly. 

Zoe Zerwig Ford stands on the sidewalk outside Williams Hall.

Zoe Zerwig Ford ’27
IDEAS: Computer Science, Philosophy, and Global Studies

For Zerwig Ford, diversity in experience is one of the best teachers when it comes to integrating academic ideas. One of the ways she emulates this philosophy is through her engagement in multiple clubs across campus. She participates in the Cybersecurity Club, Beekeeping Club, Society of Women Engineers, two of the university’s choirs, and recently started training in taekwondo. She enjoys the challenges these clubs present her and the opportunity to learn from both peers and professionals. 

This range of interests is tous les jours for Zerwig Ford; in high school, she was the president of the Society of Women Engineers Next Club, Girl Scouts She Leads Club, eSports team, and Orchestra Club. She also participated in multiple performing arts disciplines such as modern dance, theater, and music. In her free time, she likes to relax by playing bass, be it electric or upright, funk or jazz. However, despite this focus on art and music, her academic curiosities are far more technical … and what led her to Lehigh.

Classes: Calculus II, Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Chemical Principles, Choral Arts University Choir, Programming and Data Structures

Why Lehigh?
Due to her range of interests, a typical engineering university wouldn’t suffice; Zerwig Ford sought a balance between humanities/arts and engineering in her academics. As such, Lehigh University’s Integrated Degree of Engineering, Arts, and Sciences (IDEAS) program is the perfect fit for her. Within this honors program, she and her peers explore the intersection of these two colleges and dissect the ethics of engineering and technological progress. Zerwig Ford wants to be part of the discussion around ethics within computer science, be it cybersecurity, AI, or social media. 

This interest in technology stemmed from Zerwig Ford’s love of the television series Star Trek. Among the many shows in the franchise, Deep Space 9 is her favorite due to how it discusses social and ethical issues. For example, in one episode, the chief medical officer has to face his past as a genetically engineered human and the ethical ambiguity of his humanity. Zerwig Ford wants to further explore these types of ethical topics by studying global history and culture, philosophy, and computer science. She strives to connect these courses together into a cohesive theme that can guide her into finding ways to use technology to solve global issues. 

Zerwig Ford earned her Girl Scouts Gold Award, the highest honor, in 2022. Her project focused on the gender pay gap and raising awareness around issues in the workplace. In 2020, women earned $0.83 to every dollar earned by men. The pandemic pushed that number even lower; at the current rate, it will now take women 135 years to reach parity instead of the 99 years it was three years ago. These stats fill the website she created: GoldGirlGraphics.

However, she wanted to express her message in a more creative, tangible way. She assembled a team to help her design and paint a mural over three days for the Paint Memphis festival. She chose this topic to focus on because she attended an all-girls school and noticed that none of the classes talked about this reality. Zerwig Ford wanted her peers better informed and to have the tools and resources to combat pay inequity in the workplace.

Alex Tsarenkov stands in a hallway inside STEPS.

Alexandra Tsarenkov ’27
Chemical Engineering

Whether hiking Olympic National Park with her mother, navigating whitewater rapids with her father, or camping and kayaking as a family in the Adirondacks, Tsarenkov likes feeling strong. That’s why she hits the weightroom four times a week for isolated upper- and lower-body workouts. She grew up around strong women in Brooklyn – many of whom are doctors and engineers. 

Her passions straddle those same fields. Tsarenkov loves engineering with its direct application of science research. She also loves the power of impacting lives through medicine. In fact, she shadowed a cardiothoracic surgeon and saw the work both in the operating room and in improving the health literacy of clients whose language, culture, and class impacted their ability to heal. 

Tsarenkov flexes both of her passions through her tutoring business, spending 10-12 hours a week helping middle school and high school students with biology, chemistry, math, and English. She enjoys unwinding at the end of the week at Shabbat dinners held each Friday night with members of her community on campus.

Classes: Calculus III, Introduction to Biology, Intermediate French, Chemistry Level II

Why Lehigh?
Tsarenkov thought there was a glitch in the admissions system when she and her best friend were both admitted to Lehigh and earned a Soaring Together scholarship. While both attended a STEM-intensive magnet school in Manhattan, what were the chances of staying together on this same path? Her friend knew about Lehigh and encouraged Tsarenkov to apply. Tsarenkov liked what she saw: strong engineering, beautiful campus, close to home, strong school spirit, and a slower pace than New York City. While they aren’t roommates and study different subjects, they do lift together.

Women in Tsarenkov’s family, including her great-grandmother, who was a physician in Russia, would talk freely about women’s health issues. It was information that wasn’t available in Tsarenkov’s school, which had no sex education classes. This demonstrated to her how access to facts, as well as openness in families and society to address uncomfortable topics, can empower young women. 

While she thought herself lucky to be surrounded by strong women, Tsarenkov knew others weren’t as fortunate. It inspired her to form STEMinism, a STEM-based club at her school. Girls from her high school served as mentors to middle school girls in Queens who were passionate about STEM. Tsarenkov tutored a sixth grader who loved genetics, a topic that wasn’t addressed in her standard curriculum. Tsarenkov was able to share knowledge and model what a woman in STEM could accomplish.


Lillian Wu wearing a blue sweater smiling in the HST building

Lillian Wu ’27
Chemical Engineering
Wu is a member of the university equestrian team. Her love of riding began as a hobby in her home state of Oklahoma and helped bond her with her mother and grandmother, who share a love of horses. Wu competes in jumping — prompting her gelding to leap over the fences. 

Aiming high is what Wu does. She is taking a hefty course load to stay on pace with her career aspirations — right now she is split between pre med and pharmaceutical research. Maybe she’ll gain clarity this summer. She has applied to a research program in biomedicine back home. She is beginning plans to fulfill a dream of studying abroad in East Asia.

Classes: Biology, Honors General Chemistry, Linear Algebra, Chinese, Statistical Literacy in Health, and Introduction to Engineering Practice

Why Lehigh?
Several years ago, her brother toured Lehigh. Wu’s mom loved the school and mentioned it to Wu as an option for her aspirations in engineering. As Wu started to look for colleges, she liked lots about Lehigh — location, size, program, and campus beauty. When she was accepted here, she knew she had to make a decision. So she visited a few East Coast campuses, coming to South Mountain for Lehigh Fest. That visit made all the difference because being here “just felt right.”

In high school, Wu co-founded a program called Wheels to Work. She was inspired by what she had studied in a community service learning class: Transportation remains the biggest barrier to hard-working people in need in Oklahoma City. The club worked to subsidize bus passes and arrange ride shares for unhoused people and several community organizations, like the YWCA. 

One organization that focused on rehabilitating women enrolled in a prison diversion program soon took on bigger significance. Students sought to help the women and their children with a seasonal giving tree. The students sold baked goods … enough cookies and cupcakes to buy iPods, earbuds, and everything else on their wish lists. She is now imagining what she could do by working in the Behind the Scenes program at the Center for Gender Equity.

Isabella Canadine wearing a cream cardigan over a black top standing in Williams Hall

Isabelle Canadine ’27
International Relations and Spanish
If you are looking for a Taylor Swift listening party or video marathon, look no further than the new club Canadine started on campus. She, like many Swifties, is a diehard fan, and like her musical heroine, she has also dabbled as a singer and songwriter, having written, performed, recorded, and shared her own music. Those songs begin as poems and transform into something much more at the mixing board. 

Canadine’s creative side is more than balanced with her passion for equity, language, and culture. She and her two sisters were adopted from the Seldovia Village Tribe in Alaska. Her adoptive parents met in the Peace Corps and brought Canadine and her sisters to the world, living for four years in Mozambique and six years in Guatemala. Immersion into other cultures opened Canadine’s eyes to the beauty and uniqueness of people around the world as well as some hardships. Those struggles have ignited her in ways that led her directly to Lehigh.

Classes: Contemporary Indigenous Health, Conflict and Sexual Violence, The United Nations: History of Globalization, and Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing 

Why Lehigh?
In ninth grade, Canadine became involved in Model UN. The following year, she became president of the group and remained the leader for the next two years. She was passionate about discussing issues like oil fracking in the Middle East and the rights of Indigenous people in the United Kingdom. When Canadine began looking for colleges, a guidance counselor suggested Lehigh because of its relationship with the United Nations and strong international relations program. With her other two sisters in college, Canadine found the Soaring Together scholarship a wonderful incentive. She is now part of the United Nations Association on campus and will attend a conference at the UN in February.

Canadine witnessed poverty and corruption while living overseas. She saw women especially endure the abuse and hardships that came with a lack of opportunities and resources. There was so much potential going unreached. She seeks to alter that. 

Feminism is a word often met with stiff reactions from men. But she recognizes that women will not find equity without support from men. “Each woman in the world deserves the right to reach her potential based on her capabilities,” she says.

Madison Saks wearing a purple cardigan over a black top standing in Drown Hall

Madison Saks ’27
Cognitive Science and Creative Writing
Saks has always been fascinated by the brain and the way people think. She aspires to be a clinical psychologist and help others through advanced strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. 

She will be an orientation leader (OL) at Lehigh. Saks knows firsthand the impact an OL can make in someone’s transition to college. A group dinner held by her OL early in the semester directly led to meeting her best friends. Those friends are now with her as they await their initiation into Pi Beta Phi. She wants to have that same impact as students venture to Lehigh and begin to find their footing. 

She’s like a guide in the fantasy series she loves to read, Throne of Glass, the eight-part story of a strong young woman in another world. Fantasy novels have allowed Saks a momentary escape from the demands of everyday life and helped her form bonds with family members. 

But bonds seem to come easily, as she bakes delicious desserts for everyone in her life, including customers. She was diagnosed with Celiac disease a little over a year ago, and that changed her life. But, as the saying goes, Saks turned lemons into lemonade and has embraced her gluten-free life. She bakes a mean gluten-free s’mores cookie and created a successful side hustle baking gluten-free cookies and shipping them around the country. It keeps her busy as orders flow in. 

Saks uses her earnings to fund her voracious reading habits, and although she gets lost in fantasy novels, she also devours many different genres, both fiction and nonfiction. Last year alone she read over 100 books. She plans to break that personal record this year and has joined a book club on campus called Letters and Literature Society. She is an avid writer, both creative and journalistic. She has been a finalist in several contests and is already working on her first book. 

Classes: Introduction to Writing Creative Non-Fiction, Introduction to Cognitive Science, Introduction to Programming, Child Development 

Why Lehigh?
Saks has strong family ties to Lehigh. Her parents met at Lehigh and returned on their 25th anniversary to renew their vows at Packer Chapel. Her twin siblings graduated from Lehigh in 2023 and excelled in the engineering school, but Saks was eager to pave her own path in the arts and sciences. She loved coming to campus for Family Weekend and the Rivalry. She could feel how genuine the people were and the real sense of community that surrounded South Mountain. 

But the strongest draw for a “first-year” student coming in with 28 credits was the interdisciplinary nature of Lehigh. She wanted to study cognitive science and creative writing and knew that both programs were strong on campus. She could develop and use both sides of her brain. This interdisciplinary philosophy is exemplified in Lehigh's Eckardt Scholar program, which Saks was chosen to be a part of.  

In first grade, a seminal moment happened when Saks wore her favorite shirt to school. She didn’t understand why she was forced to select a sweatshirt from the lost-and-found box to cover herself. Only as she got older did she realize that she was being blamed for the sexual gaze of others. 

Dress codes then became her focus. She tested theories by having boys in school roll up their shorts to an uncomfortably high spot on their thighs. Her shorts were at the same height, but only she was found in violation of the dress code. She wrote research papers on the topic and op-eds in her school newspaper about equity and dress — both what was happening to her and her classmates as well as what was happening in the world. She hopes to help others unlearn what society has taught them about what’s acceptable in order to make them feel more comfortable in their own clothes.


Asha stands on campus walkway in a black shirt

Asha Marwaha ’27
Population Health

Marwaha dreams of being a physician. Telling others about her ambitions is one thing, but putting them to the test is another. So she decided to take a 240-hour emergency medical technician (EMT) certification class during the summer when she was 16. Because of her age, she was only allowed to start using her certificate as a volunteer. After she turned 18, she became an employed EMT, working full 13-hour shifts with the crew. 

Each call had her on the edge of her seat, never knowing what it might bring, but the experiences allowed her to problem solve and help others, like a little girl who took a hard fall at a museum and needed stitches. It is rewarding work, so she plans to use those skills at Lehigh, joining the EMS club. 

Marwaha is already a member of the Outing Club, Student Senate, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the Global Social Impact Fellowship: Sparking Curiosity and Creativity by Democratizing Science Education. 

During high school, Asha was a three-sport varsity athlete. When high school sports ended, she turned her athletic goals to running. While she has run with President Joseph Helble in the morning, her sights are aimed higher: completing the Philadelphia Marathon. Injuries and pain from her long runs have impacted her body but not her confidence or belief. She made it across the finish line with her goal of a Boston Marathon qualifying time. She plans to run another marathon in the future and is also considering a triathlon.

Classes: Introduction to Chemical Principles, Introduction to Psychology, Biostatistics, and 7 Dimensions of Health and Wellness

Why Lehigh?
In eighth grade, she visited Lehigh when in town for a travel soccer tournament. While selecting a future college was furthest from her mind, the new College of Health brought Lehigh into view as her senior year approached. Merhawa loves math and science, but she is more interested in taking a holistic view of health and likes how population health weighs factors like social determinants. 

During her junior year in high school, Marwaha spent the year in Jordan as part of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program. While she missed some aspects of her life back home, the experience was life changing. She served as a Youth Ambassador with the goal of forming lifelong relationships and creating intercultural understanding. She attended an International Baccalaureate school and soaked in the culture of her host country. She did notice that she was the only female in her advanced math class and one of two in her physics class. Her presence in those courses alone helped to demonstrate that women should be learning those subjects. 

Gender (and age) also played a role in her work as an EMT when people would prioritize talking to her male crew members. “Lehigh recognizes that the playing field isn’t equal,” she says. “Soaring Together has put us here to help balance that scale.”

Lydia stands on campus near trees with yellow leaves

Lydia Sheeser ’27
Health, Medicine, and Society and Global Studies, Double Major

On a whim, Sheeser decided to try out for the Lehigh rowing team. She played soccer and lacrosse in high school, so when a neighbor in the dorm suggested they walk on, Sheeser jumped on it. She had missed the structure that a commitment to athletics demands as well as the bonds formed between teammates. She made the team of 20 and soon was much more motivated by the demands of a busy week that included six days of practice in a boat and two days in the weight room. Prior to this, the only thing close to rowing that she had done was a canoe trip in Canada. 

Classes: Introduction to Chemical Principles; Calculus I; Introduction to Global Studies; Race, Sports, Media and Social Activism

Why Lehigh?
Sheeser is on the pre-med track, following her father, an emergency room physician. She often served as a mock patient for him in a wilderness training course and rode along with ambulance crews. She had a 12-hour shift with the crew the day before she arrived on campus. 

While she thought a West Coast college experience might be fun, a tour out West made her realize it was too far away. Accepted students' day at Lehigh confirmed for her that South Mountain was the right choice – the proximity to home, size, and opportunities aligned perfectly. 

As a freshman in high school and member of her varsity soccer team, Sheeser and her teammates drew national press for their support of equal pay for the U.S. Women’s National Team. After the varsity team scored a goal in a match, some players removed their school jersey to reveal an #EqualPay shirt. Those players received yellow cards, but a movement was born as the story hit major news outlets like CNN, Time, and Sports Illustrated, and Sheeser appeared on “Good Morning America.” The team sold its #EqualPay shirts, raising $55,000, which is  held by the Vermont Community Foundation until all of the funds and earnings are granted. It was the first youth-led, donor-advised philanthropic fund housed at the foundation. 

The team continues to host an #EqualPay game each year and offer grants to many nonprofit organizations across the state. A recent grant went to Sheeser’s own high school to purchase equipment for Muslim female athletes that allows them to participate and compete in a variety of sports.

Polina stands in window filled room in STEPS Hall.

Polina Maller ’27

Prior to arriving on campus, Maller had heard about Engineers Without Borders, specifically the project that Lehigh is undertaking in the Dominican Republic to help remediate a water tower and fix lines that feed a nearby school and several small towns. She signed up for that club during the fall activities fair. She hopes to be part of the team that travels down to assist with the progress. 

Maller also makes it over to Zoellner once a week to play piano. She’s tickled the ivories since she was five years old, so rehearsing old pieces and deciphering new ones is a fun stress reliever.

Classes: Introduction to Python, Introduction to Engineering Practice, Calculus II, Physics, and Principles of Economics

Why Lehigh?
When Maller was a child, her family liked to take long and leisurely bike rides alongside rivers. The Staten Island, New York, native would often head to the Lehigh Valley to and ride along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. One trip even had the family pedal through the Lehigh University campus. That was her first experience with Lehigh. As she got older and realized that she wanted to study engineering, Lehigh became a top choice; it had the program she wanted, was close to home, and the perfect size.

At a holiday party, the hostess approached Maller and told her that she was too pretty to be an engineer. Needless to say, the comment upset her but didn’t surprise her based on what she’d experienced. It’s part of the reason she co-founded a club in high school called STEMinism, a combination of STEM and feminism. The club provided mentoring for aspiring female scientists and engineers. “Being part of a safety net of like-minded people who navigate similar STEM environments provides emotional support and the inspiration to drive us forward in our careers,” she says. 

But she is no stranger to standing out in other areas of her life, like the gym. She is an avid weightlifter, pumping iron five days a week over the last two years. Besides it being her favorite form of exercise, weightlifting also makes her feel powerful. “I want to be as strong as the men who talk down to me there,” she says. 


Forum stands in the hallway of the new HST building.

Forum Patel ’27
Computer Science and Business

Imagine a pair of smart glasses on a visually impaired person as it assists with daily activities by blending AI, sensing technology, data, and programming. That was the idea that Patel formed and pitched at a startup boot camp. Her idea won. The next year she was invited back to inspire and coach a new cohort of competitors. 

Her passion for entrepreneurship is now being put to the test. She recently competed in a Lehigh vs Lafayette hackathon sponsored by Amazon. She led the only all-women team in a room full of men. Twenty-four hours later, her team had a mental health app ready to guide Lehigh students whether they needed affirmations or campus resources. Patel is eager to bring her innovative spirit to the Baker Institute and LehighSiliconValley.

Classes: Business Communication, Foundations of Business, Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis, Calculus II, Introduction to Programming, and Introduction to Archaeology and Human Origins

Why Lehigh?
She thought she wanted to get away from Allentown, but as Patel dreamed of a future consulting career in New York City, the power of Lehigh became too strong a pull. Her desire to stay local was confirmed even more as she took two classes at Lehigh during her senior year. She ventured to campus for Organizational Behavior and Statistical Methods. She was stimulated by the material, made friends, and enjoyed the vibrant campus life. “I knew after my first semester that this is where I wanted to spend the next four years,” she says. 

She likes being close to home so she can continue going to the temple and participate in religious activities with her family. She also hopes to spend a semester abroad in Barcelona, adding to her list of foreign places visited — she went to Colombia this past summer in addition to working an internship at HoverTech International, a medical device company, where she was primarily responsible for optimizing the ERP system. She continues to work part-time there during the fall semester.

Patel plans to start a Girls Who Code club on campus and work with students at the local middle school. She knows the power of code, having built a website for the nonprofit food pantry that serves her school district. In addition to coding, she has hosted her own food drive, going door to door to call upon her neighbors to aid in the fight against food insecurity. She still returns to help. A recent weekend had her there to sort through produce and make grab-and-go bags filled with various food items as families rolled up to the monthly drive-thru distribution. 

To get her club started, she will need help. She’s hoping to draw on women in her other clubs: Women in Computer Science and Women in Business. No doubt she will have success. Patel was an officer in Future Business Leaders of America where she and her team won the regional and state competitions and attended the national conference. “I have taken steps to expose more women to business and engineering to eventually break stereotypical barriers in male-dominated industries,” she says.

Courtney stands in the hallway outside Lucy's Cafe in Linderman Library

Courtney Baker ’27

As an eight year old, Baker would go to the library to get books on outer space. She’d read each one and take notes, an action that in her young mind showed how serious she was about the topic. Her passion for outer space not only grew but also expanded. In high school she got creative, drafting a science fiction novel about the evacuation of Earth. 

So it makes sense today for Baker to be involved with the aerospace club where she is helping build a model airplane for a spring competition; she is solely focused on the wings. For the Lehigh University Space Initiative (LUSI), Baker researched ground stations to support a cube satellite; if its proposal is selected by NASA, LUSI will be launching its CubeSat into orbit around Earth for data collection on ocean plastics.

Classes: Physics, Intermediate Reading/Writing Chinese, Beginner Spoken Chinese, Calculus I, IDEAS Seminar, and Introduction to Engineering

Why Lehigh?
The list seems clear: proximity to home, size, engineering program, liberal arts, and entrepreneurship. It’s the last one that gets Baker excited. “Lehigh embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of its founder, Asa Packer,” she says. “It aligns with my entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams about space travel.” She mentions working in the aerospace field someday. “There are a number of entrepreneurial opportunities at Lehigh that can help me reach my goals,” she says. “I’m beyond thrilled to be a Soaring Together Scholar and am excited to see where my path will take me.”

Historically, STEM fields have not been the most welcoming to young Black women. But Baker went to STEM camp every year as a child. It led to her lengthy and supportive conversations about social justice and equity with her parents. It inspired her to advocate for issues she believed in. That passion sparked even higher when she read the book and saw the film Hidden Figures, which chronicles the work of several Black female mathematicians whose work made the moon landing possible.  

In high school, Baker participated in Baltimore Girls School Leadership Coalition, where representatives from different schools met to discuss self-awareness, confidence, and leadership. Today, she is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and Society of Women Engineers. Baker wants to inspire other Black girls interested in STEM to find more ways to enter the fields they love.

Alex stands in a hallway inside the new Business Innovation Building.

Alex McWatters ’27
Statistics and Economics

Six hours a week, McWatters is in online sessions. It’s not for classes she’s taking, but sessions she’s leading. She tutors math for a few fourth- and fifth-grade students in Pittsburgh. She’s worked as a tutor for years. As a member of her National Honor Society and through other programs, McWatters visited her local elementary schools to assist children in need of help. She finds it rewarding as the children see improvement and their parents see the look of success on their children’s faces. The rewards are ones she’s learned to appreciate thanks to her father — an award-winning physics teacher. 

Classes: Principles of Economics, Calculus, Brown and White, Eckardt Honors Seminar

Why Lehigh?
She first visited campus as a freshman in high school. She and her mother visited every campus of interest — 11 in total. McWatters loved Lehigh — one of the few private schools she considered. But then her interest in engineering waned. With it, Lehigh fell away. When McWatters’ her senior year rolled around, a college representative from Lehigh visited her school and reignited her interest, thanks to the power of her areas of interest and Soaring Together Scholarship.

For eight years, McWatters’ father coached her flag football team. It wasn’t easy being the only girl on the team, but having her father as the coach helped. But she was used to being tough, having played as a lacrosse goalie since sixth grade. She now stands between the net for the club lacrosse team at Lehigh and is glad to have her own rivalry matches against Lafayette. 

Being a woman in sports blends two of her biggest interests: athletics and empowerment. In high school, McWatters served as an ambassador for Women in Sports Technology, an organization driven to provide opportunities for women in male-dominated fields, like her area of interest: data analytics. On campus, she continues to hold up female athletes, writing stories for The Brown and White about a women’s basketball player and a cheerleader preparing for Rivalry weekend.


Chelsea wears a white Lehigh sweatshirt and black down vest

Chelsea Berson ’27 
Math and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

She loves her dog, Belle, a nine-year-old springerdoodle, an English springer spaniel and poodle mix. Berson misses her dog and has gone back to Westchester to visit her (and her family) once. She joined the animal therapy club on campus to get a regular animal fix. Seeing the Lehigh Police dogs is always a treat. 

She is also staying active as a member of club field hockey. Having played the sport since middle school, she enjoys having her own mini-rivalry when the team goes up against Lafayette. The Center for Gender Equity also has her busy. It created a haunted house for Halloween, illustrating how the patriarchy, hidden around every turn, has haunted women for years.

Classes: Calculus, Gender and Society, Introduction to Writing Poetry, First-Year Seminar

Why Lehigh?
Lehigh is a popular choice for students from her town, so she didn’t want to even consider it. She still visited campus though. That’s when she realized why Lehigh was so popular. “It was friendly, cute, and cozy,” she says. During her tour, she saw a group of students in costumes on the quad. That’s when she realized that Lehigh students didn’t take themselves too seriously and saw the collaborative nature of their collective smarts at a competitive school. 

She loves to add creative thinking to problem-solving — she regularly sketches out answers to complex math problems. It’s why she hopes to bring gender equity to the world of math or use her math skills to help nonprofits focus on gender equity.

As a sophomore in high school, Berson began to volunteer at Planned Parenthood. She was inspired by a sexual politics course she took and wanted to join the youth activism group. Soon she was a member of the Community Advisory Council as it worked on a K-12 comprehensive sexual education program. She began to lobby state senators, the New York State Board of Regents, and spoke at a national convention held by the Society for Public Health Education. “It just feels wrong to pretend that there is not injustice in the world. Each of us should feel empowered to do something about it,” she says.

Sean Henry stands in the FML plaza in a Lehigh shirt

Sean Henry ’27

Chicken nuggets. Canned ravioli. Dry cereal. As a kid, Henry was a picky eater. While pizza may still be his favorite (which he acknowledges as basic but delicious), he has become more adventurous in his eating, like escargot and octopus. He credits his mom, who has inspired him to bake; his aunt, who makes his favorite Boston Drop cookies; and his former cross country coach, who is a coffee connoisseur. Maybe this is why he has joined the coffee club, tea club, and cheese club on campus. Respectively, yes, they pour, steep, cut, and savor. 

More than just indulging, he also signed up for the fencing club and outing club where he soon will participate in a color run. He has run in nearly every single Pace the Prez, where President Helble runs four miles with anyone from the Lehigh community. What gets Henry up at 6:30 a.m. on those Tuesday mornings? His alarm clock, he quips. While the president is fast and usually leads the pack, Henry has noticed he does slow down and step back to chat with all runners. Henry talked with Helble about — you guessed it— running. As an introvert, Henry is getting out there. He’s also involved in clubs tied to the College of Business: marketing, ventures, and supply chain.

Classes: Foundations in Business, Business Communication, Calculus, Economics, and Current Events

Why Lehigh?
Henry was dual enrolled in high school, earning his diploma as well as an associate degree in liberal arts from Rowan College of South Jersey. He could have transferred into Rowan, but he wanted to go further from his south New Jersey home. While the Soaring Together scholarship played a big factor in his decision-making, he liked Lehigh and felt a bit more at home here.

While traveling in Iceland, Henry was on a tour of the capital city when the guide spoke about the country’s history. The guide was proud of how the nation has progressed in the modern age, ranked high in categories like equity across its laws and culture. “That was the first time I heard people speak about it so plainly,” he says. “I recognized that we don’t talk the same way here or have the same attitude toward it.” That’s why he thinks it’s important to be a man who is involved in this issue. “There are many ways to show we care by doing more and celebrating its successes,” he says.

Roisin Gaffney in a blue sweater outside the Business Innovation Building

Roisin Gaffney ’27

Gaffney is already playing on three club teams at Lehigh: soccer, lacrosse, and rugby. She is used to rough-and-tumble sports. Having been raised in the Sunset District, a predominantly Irish neighborhood in San Francisco, she played Gaelic football and camogie. At the nearby  Irish cultural center, she and her dad would watch matches and eat a stout Irish breakfast. 

She’s no stranger to the pitch. Since second grade, Gaffney has played soccer on club teams and at the varsity level. She was the goalie. During her junior year, she also stood in front of the net for her high school lacrosse team. While she might see five shots on net in soccer, lacrosse tested her focus and reaction times.

Gaffney not only led on the field but also as a student government representative. She enjoyed being able to use her voice and create change. She also liked amplifying school spirit and organizing rallies and events. Her positive experiences have her active at Lehigh as a member of the student senate. Her first big task on campus? Organizing a tailgate for students at the Rivalry game. 

Classes: Foundations of Business, Business Analytics, Economics, Calculus, Philosophy, and Business Communication

Why Lehigh?
There seems to be a solid cohort from San Francisco at Lehigh. Gaffney thinks that might have to do with the university’s partnership with NASDAQ. While she wanted to attend a college out of state, the costs made it seem that her local school (UC Berkeley) would be her best option. But she liked the opportunities she saw at Lehigh — the small class sizes, the caring community, the ample internships, and the study abroad programs. 

“I want to take advantage of every opportunity,” she says. That started with the Soaring Together scholarship. She has three siblings, so a full tuition scholarship made coming East an easy decision.

Twice Gaffney earned Youth Referee of the Year, an award based on her work on the soccer field as decided on by coaches and parents. Earning those accolades doesn’t mean it was an easy job. When she gave a coach a yellow card after he disagreed with her call and then disparaged her abilities and gender at length in front of players, coaches, and parents, Gaffney knew she had to do more to help other young female referees. She was the first referee to join the Youth Advisory Council where she advanced new rules and helped conduct workshops to improve respect for referees of all ages and genders. 

At Lehigh, she hopes to advance gender equity in sports, dreaming of creating a nonprofit to help all children have access to equipment and club-level training. In the meantime, she volunteers through Hillel and Lehigh’s Community Service Office. She’s not sure if she will reach the 1,000 hours she amassed in high school when she helped the unhoused with food and friendship.


Jyana Francois '27 in a yellow shirt outside Steps

Jyana Francois ’27

Although both her parents are fluent English speakers and have raised Francois and her siblings in the U.S., she didn't realize until she was older how little English her father spoke at home. It explains how she became fluent in Creole. Her parents are also fluent in French. It’s what prompted her as a person of Haitian lineage to join the African Student Association and Women of Color Alliance on campus. 

Like her language skills, Francois' talents are diverse. She’s a member of J.M. Entertainment, a KPOP dance group on campus. Her dance training is classical, but she has danced in many styles and forms. She is also a member of the clarinet choir, a smaller ensemble for clarinetists. Having picked up that woodwind instrument in the fourth grade, she has performed in the symphonic band, wind ensemble, pit orchestra, and combined orchestra. She’s eager to see what other doors will appear and open on this collegiate journey.

Classes: Chemistry, Calculus II, Engineering, College of Health Seminar, English Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing

Why Lehigh?
She was touring Zoellner Arts Center when she spotted a large poster, draped by the entrance, that read, “Young, Gifted, and Black.” “I realized that this school took the time to highlight those of every background and race, and it hit me as a young black woman that my talents and interests would be nurtured and expanded, allowing me to grow into an even better version of myself,” she says. 

She applied early decision two (ED2) … which was not an easy decision. Her parents told her not to worry about the money. “My family has been praying for a scholarship since I began the application process,” she says. 

Since COVID-19, she has been taking her faith more seriously — where she stands and who she seeks to become. In that time, her faith has made her more confident. “I trust that God is making a way for me,” she says. “Never once did I think the blessing of being chosen for this esteemed program would be a part of it. I am beyond honored and overjoyed.”

On the pre-med track, she sees how frequently equity is lost in healthcare. She has had female friends with conditions that have gone undiagnosed or where symptoms are ignored or dismissed by medical professionals. She has peers from other cultures who are unable to discuss natural processes, like menstruation, because it is seen as taboo. “As a woman of color, I want my presence to help others who are often underrepresented in STEM fields,” she says. “I want to be a doctor who listens and understands differently and is part of changing medicine for future generations.”

McKenna sits on a ledge in front of a waterfall in Ecuador

McKenna Littleton ’27 
Global Studies and Spanish

Her quest for adventure began in high school. She and her family were traveling from their hometown in Texas to Culver Academy in Indiana where her brother was recruited to play ice hockey. As soon as she stepped on campus to watch the game, Littleton knew she wanted to go there as well. While it took a bit of convincing, she soon was off (and her younger sister soon followed suit and became her roommate). 

That questing continued when she spent a summer in a Spanish language immersion program in Oviedo, Spain. Her skills in travel and language are coming in handy as she entered Lehigh Launch, a place-based learning experience for first-semester first-year students. She is in Quito, Ecuador, living with a host family, speaking Spanish, eating cuy (guinea pig), and learning biology and anthropology through excursions to the Galapagos, Amazon, and villages around the capital city. 

Classes: Environmental studies first-year seminar, anthropology, biology, and Spanish

Why Lehigh?
She wanted a college that emphasized a global perspective. Lehigh did through the Launch program, United Nations partnership, and Iacocca Internship. Those opportunities paired well with the “academic flexibility” she wanted. “I want to learn, lead, and problem solve across disciplines,” she says.

She studied leadership theory as a senior in a high school seminar and focused on the topic for her honors thesis. As she formed her own leadership philosophy, she saw that most language was agentic, focusing on the agency of a strong and vocal leader. The traits all seemed very masculine. What seemed to be lacking were communal strengths — an ability to listen, nurture, and offer kindness. 

“Adding more traits that are traditionally ascribed to women and shifting the inherent bias in leadership development matters to me,” she says. Her honors fair presentation to classmates struck a nerve as many young women approached her and wanted to take up the cause, infusing a broader range of leadership styles into existing systems and roles.

Jing stands in the hallway in Zoellner Center for the Arts

Jing Yan ’27 

Jing entered Lehigh as a junior with 55 credits already, which gives them lots of ways to explore all that campus has to offer. Exploration has always been a priority in their life back in South Dakota. Their parents immigrated from China and wanted them to have a chance to pursue every opportunity. They play violin and piano, having taken lessons since elementary school. After years studying those instruments, they took up flute in middle school and then oboe in high school. 

That talent in music was also displayed in language. Jing speaks Mandarin at home, attended a Spanish immersion elementary and middle school, and then studied French in high school. Opportunities at Lehigh are only amplifying their exploration. They are now playing piccolo in the marching band and violin in the orchestra. They also auditioned for and landed a role in a play where they’re learning bass guitar. They’re looking into trying out tools available in Wilbur Powerhouse as well as classes in Arabic and ASL.

Classes: Mechanics, Calculus II, Intro to Programming, and Intro to Sociology

Why Lehigh?
They had some specific criteria when looking for a college. While many places checked the boxes, Lehigh stood out in part because of its anti-racism statement. “The language felt more active, like Lehigh actually wants to help,” they say. The IDEAS program was also a big hit. What they might study isn’t quite clear yet, but the possibilities are fun to explore.

Jing has always had a critical view of gender. To the point that they learned to not use the restroom at school. Not because they didn’t have to go, but because the gendered definitions and responses from peers made it less than accommodating. 

“Many people have made rude comments to me when they think I’m a boy wearing a skirt or a girl with very short hair. I want to express myself without being judged or restrained by gender,” they say. “I’m nonbinary, and questioning my gender made me feel much more comfortable in how I express it. I highly recommend everyone to question your gender at least once in your lifetime.” 

They are interested in intersectionality, exploring what it is like for themself, being a queer person of color, as well as how other marginalized identities affect people’s experiences of discrimination and what that means in the fight for gender equity. “It’s important that we work for equity for all people at the same time,” they say.


Amelie smiles with a cafe behind her

Amelie Fry ’27

She road-tripped with her father, leaving her hometown of Seattle, Washington, and driving across the country over the course of six days. She was raised in a split-party household, so the conversations and debates in the car matched the changing blue and red politics outside their windows. The journey also kept her 40 records and turntable safe. Now she can listen to the Riot Grrrl artists that capture the ethos of her own intersections of art, politics, feminism, and music. She has already registered to vote in Pennsylvania, recognizing the power of her life in a swing state while also getting involved in politics on campus and in the community.

Classes: Calculus II, Introduction to Chemistry, Drawing I, Introduction to Philosophy, and IDEAS seminar

Why Lehigh? 
She wanted something that President Joseph Helble calls “radically interdisciplinary.” She is passionate about science as well as the humanities and arts. “IDEAS is exactly what I wanted to do based on my interdisciplinary interests in bioengineering, sociology, political science, and visual arts,” she says. She previously combined those passions in an advanced placement art portfolio that featured paintings uniting people, genetics, and generational traumas experienced by immigrants.

As a little girl, she often argued with boys, sharing her opinions. Sometimes loudly. That passion to be heard focused on specific issues in high school so that students could have a voice in decision-making. Being a Soaring Together Scholar allows her to keep gender equity at the center of her life while also altering her life. “This honor allows me to focus on my academic prospects rather than the financial questions and concerns,” she says. 

Kristina smiles outside E. W. Fairchild-Martindale Library & Computing Center

Kristina Cavaliere ’27

While growing up, she was determined to drive the 1981 Porsche that her father had parked in the garage. But it’s not the kind of car one uses to get practice at using a manual transmission. Not only did she learn to drive stick shift and chauffeur her boyfriend to prom in that classic car, but she also enrolled in Skip Barber Racing School and developed a deep passion for motorsports. Needless to say, her trip to South Mountain from her Long Island hometown was a fast one. “My father inspired me in so many ways — from driving to decision-making to my college major to use of dad jokes,” she says. Like him, investment banking is in her future … unless the track claims her skills full time.

Classes: Economics, Business, Calculus, Psychology, and Organizational Behavior

Why Lehigh?
Setting aside the proximity to the Pocono Raceway, Lehigh became an obvious choice for her when she considered our reputation on Wall Street and the College of Business curriculum. She also liked the sense of community. “Lehigh Fest was very impressive and made me realize how personable the community is,” she says. “My admissions counselor recognized my name, remembered my application, and introduced me to the president and dean.” That says something, knowing that she applied to 22 schools.

She was the only driver at racing school who already knew how to drive stick — a requirement that the guys seemed less than honest about. As she waited for the boys and men to catch up to her, she hit the track. “I taught five other women back home how to drive manual,” she says. She also wasted no time getting an inside track on the Lehigh Racing team as it builds a Formula One car. “Never know when building a clutch will come in handy,” she says. Nothing is going to slow her roll. “1976. That was the last time a woman raced in a Formula One World Championship. I am going to change that.”

Isaac smiles on the deck overlooking E. W. Fairchild-Martindale Library & Computing Center

Isaac Huber ’27

Clouds! That was the first thing that he noticed as he navigated South Mountain from his perpetually sunny hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Those sunny skies were the backdrop to most of his days outdoors as an Eagle Scout. For his project, he built a wheelchair-compliant walkway at a visitor’s center in a native marshland. Baking in the western sun was a soundtrack to his life. This piano player enjoys learning film scores and visits Zoellner almost daily to continue practicing, currently at work on the theme from the latest installment in the Batman franchise.

Classes: Calculus II, Introduction to Chemistry, English II, and First-Year Seminar

Why Lehigh?
As a high school sophomore, he created a science fair project on purifying magnetite nanoparticles that got him invited to the International Science Fair. It helped that his father also works in nanotechnology. “I had to figure lots of things out, but when I got stuck, I could ask him questions,” he says. His exposure at the fair led colleges to reach out to him, including Lehigh. Since he has family in the area, he toured campus while visiting Pennsylvania and liked the idea of hiking up the steps.

As an Eagle Scout, he was occasionally asked to speak to donors. He took a stance at one such engagement when asked if girls should join Boy Scouts. “I had watched my sister’s reactions when she couldn’t go on our monthly campouts, so when the rule changed, she signed right up,” he says. He knew how much scouts benefited him and wanted his sister to experience the same character-building. So he spoke in favor of the new rule allowing girls to join Boy Scouts and was pleased to help change a few minds. “I now understand what she faced. I am one of two men in the cohort of Soaring Together Scholars,” he says. “I see the power of putting yourself in uncomfortable situations in order to grow and help others grow.”

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