Students Making a Difference
The importance of real-world experience cannot be overstated as our Lehigh undergraduate and graduate business students look to differentiate themselves in the marketplace – something they do very well. The majority of our students leave Lehigh with defined plans for the “first” or “next” chapter of their professional lives. This is most certainly a measurable outcome of their academic experiences.
The value of a Lehigh degree translates into so much more than what can be measured in a paycheck. A look at our students as they use their talents to make a difference in their world, is a dimension of the Lehigh experience that is equally important.
For example, students from the Computer Science and Business program are working on a project in Zambia that will help streamline the microfinance lending process. When completed during the upcoming fall semester, they will have developed a solution for updating the main database via a mobile phone application. This application will decrease the inefficiencies of lending to small businesses in the African bush.
Our students are motivated to successfully finish their project. They have travelled to Zambia and met the microfinance clients. They have marveled at their resourcefulness in the face of such poverty. This project has become more than just an assignment – it is very personal. It is interesting that they consider themselves to have received much more than they have given through their interactions with their African “neighbors.” They realize that distinct cultural differences, such as those encountered in Zambia, need to be understood and respected as they strive, in a small part, to solve the problems of world poverty.
Students do not have to travel to a different continent to help solve the problems of world poverty. Our Integrated Product Development (IPD) students are working on projects to provide Southside Bethlehem with fresh and healthy foods. They are using their talents to design a community garden with a greenhouse that utilizes local power sources and an irrigation system that will collect and distribute water to the greenhouses. They, too, can “put a face” to their work. Their interactions with students at a nearby school and the local community have left them with the realization that they have neighbors that are less fortunate.They are committed to “making a difference” in the lives of the families of South Bethlehem.
These are just two of the many projects that our students have considered to be “life-changing” experiences. On so many levels they are evolving into the next generation of business leaders. They are learning from the best and brightest faculty members. They are honing their technical skills, at the same time as making the world a better place. They are garnering a better understanding of cultural differences as they acknowledge and celebrate diversity. They tackle real world problems with the sensitivity needed to successfully lead in a global economy.
I am proud to say that our students graduate with the tools necessary for success and the experiences and sensitivities necessary to become the next generation of global leaders.