Anyone who's paying (too much) attention to the newsletter may have noticed that the subject of this month's alumni profile, Cheryl Kaplun, is not actually an alum. So, what's up, you ask? Shouldn't she have to march in cap and gown and survive Senior Week before gracing these pages?
We think if anyone deserves a spot as an honorary alum-to-be, it's Cheryl.
She is president of the Association of Student Alumni (ASA), a campus organization dedicated to creating and enhancing traditions that unify the Lehigh family – past, present, and future. Now in its fifth year, the group has come a long way since its inception in early 2003.
Cheryl has come a long way herself, having initially refused to consider Lehigh as an option when she was in high school in New Jersey. The reason: Her dad is a Lehigh grad (1974), and so is her brother (2004). So naturally Cheryl wanted a school of her own.
But, as we all know, Lehigh has a way of seducing visitors to its South Mountain campus. "It's a good thing that I gave in and came to visit, because I fell in love," Cheryl said.
In addition to serving as ASA president, Cheryl is also the Alumni Secretary for Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity, and Treasurer of the Pi Mu Epsilon math honor society. She also interns in the Alumni Association and will begin work as an Admissions Fellow this fall.
At the same time, Cheryl and her fellow ASA volunteers envision even bigger and better things for student-alumni relations.
"One of the things I love about Lehigh is the amount of school spirit and school pride," Cheryl said. "Once I heard about ASA, I realized it was the perfect group for me to get involved." After starting her ASA career freshman year as a member of the Unity committee, she also served as chair of the September 11th Memorial ad-hoc committee. (The memorial was officially unveiled at a dedication ceremony on September 11, 2006.) Along the way, she found a calling.
"I liked the idea of planning events to unify the campus," Cheryl said, "and fittingly, that is one of my main goals as President this year." Working with the ASA executive board, she hopes to develop programs with other campus groups and organizations to increase campus-wide spirit and to engage as much of the student body as possible. ASA is a unifying force on campus, making many programs and events happen, such as the Hawk's Nest spirit section, Lehigh Under the Stars, Terror-at-Twilight Drive-In Movie and the Lehigh/Lafayette Bonfire.
Student volunteers (nicknamed ASAs) have also become the faces of Lehigh working as tour guides to introduce thousands of prospective students and their families to Lehigh. According to Cheryl, "Everything that the ASAs do involves showing others how much we love Lehigh and getting all students engaged."
When Cheryl is done with her term as ASA president, she wants everyone to remember how much she truly loved ASA and supported everything that the organization did. "As I grew in my ASA roles first as a member, then a chair, and then on the executive board, I was able to see that the key to having a successful group is having good chemistry among the executive board and committee chairs so the rest of the organization can feed off each other's positive outlook. I genuinely feel honored to have been a part of such a great organization."
Cheryl is in the five-year Masters of Education program at Lehigh, so after graduating with an undergraduate degree in math she will stay on to complete her graduate work. Then, maybe, she'll give the real world a shot. "I'm not sure if I will go into teaching right away or try another route," she said. "Part of me, having been so involved with ASA and Lehigh, has also considered doing something with higher education." Whatever Cheryl decides to do, there's no doubt she will carry a part of Lehigh with her forever.
-Genriyetta Feldman '06