When Wintana Stefanos went off to college, her trip didn't look like the stereotypical scene familiar from so many movies. She didn't pull up to Lehigh in her family's minivan and unload piles of luggage.
Instead, Stefanos said goodbye to her parents in Ethiopia and flew with just two suitcases straight to Newark Liberty International Airport, where a staff member from the Office of International Affairs greeted her.
"I flew into Newark and I was really scared at first," Stefanos explains. "It was my first trip to America and everything about the United States and Lehigh is very different, socially and even academically.
But it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone was really welcoming."
Stefanos went to an international high school in Addis Ababa, and she heard about Lehigh from her college counselor.
"Everything about Lehigh appealed to me," she says. "I liked its small size and student-faculty ratio. Also, I wanted to major in science and knew it was a good place for that.
"I wasn't able to visit, but I looked at posters and it looked really nice," she adds.
Stefanos quickly adapted to her new environment, enjoying her classes and joining several clubs. She is part of Schools for Schools, a program established by American schools to help Ugandan children receive basic education, as well as the African Caribbean Cultural Club and the American Women's Medical Association.
"Everything about Lehigh appealed to me."
When she started at Lehigh, Stefanos knew she liked science, but she wasn't sure what field to concentrate on. She took some chemistry classes to fulfill a requirement and fell in love with the subject.
"I love my professors for chemistry-they are really helpful and I just started to love the subject. It just makes so much sense to me, and it seems like something I could see myself doing in 10 or 20 years from now," she says.
In addition to chemistry, Stefanos is interested in public health policy issues and economics. She plans to combine her passions and return to Ethiopia after attending graduate school in the United States.
"I always wanted to be in some sort of medicine, whether it involves the policy aspect, public health or the science side of it," she says.
"Especially being from Addis Ababa, healthcare is so different there and it's hard for people to get medical help. I've always wanted to see if there's potential to improve healthcare in Ethiopia."
On the Record
What's your favorite place off campus? I like to go to the Lehigh Valley Mall with my friends.
What's your favorite place to eat on campus? The Southwest Grille, in the Upper UC.
What's your favorite time of year at Lehigh? I like the fall-it's not too cold and not too hot, and the weather is more like it is in Addis Ababa than at other times of the year.