Stacey Middlebrook ’11 is not the kind of person who takes the easy route through life. As a finance and economics double major, she still finds the time to volunteer around campus, study Japanese, and work in her sorority.
It’s hardly surprising, considering she managed to raise $16,000 for breast cancer research over the course of one summer when she was still in high school.
Having grown up in New Hampshire, Middlebrook sat through her freshman year in high school feeling bored and unchallenged. She decided to apply to other schools, including Phillips Academy in Andover, a boarding school where she was a legacy from both her father and grandfather.
“I wanted a bigger challenge,” Middlebrook says. “I never really had to study or do homework in order to get A’s. I just wanted to challenge myself, so I applied to a few different boarding schools and ended up going to the one I was a legacy at. I got into other ones, but I liked that one the best because it was the most challenging.”
While at Andover, Middlebrook was taking an English class when her professor was diagnosed with cancer. He continued to teach as his condition worsened, and in the end, when he was too sick to come to school, he invited students to his house for class. When her professor died, Middlebrook decided to do something.
Cooking up a fundraising plan
Returning home for the summer in 2006, Middlebrook took inspiration from the fundraiser held for breast cancer research at her mother’s country club each year. After talking it over with her parents, she came up with the idea to make and sell a cookbook as a kickoff for the fundraiser.
The cookbook would contain pictures of country club members and recipes donated by them. Advertisers could pay for ads in the book, with all proceeds going toward breast cancer research.
“A cookbook just seemed like something people would like,” Middlebrook says.
Indeed they did, as proceeds from the cookbook reached $8,000 by summer’s end. As a part of the annual fundraiser, the country club matched every dollar that was raised, bringing the grand total to $16,000—all to be donated toward breast cancer research.
Fresh off the success of her cookbook, Middlebrook finished her senior year of high school excelling in classes and looking forward to where she would go next.
“I loved boarding school,” Middlebrook says. “It was basically like going to college four years early. It was pretty rigorous academically. It prepared me for the type of course load to expect. I knew a few people who went to Lehigh and loved it, and it had what I wanted to study. At the time I was taking Japanese classes at my boarding school. Lehigh had Japanese, it had a business school, and it had a crew team, which I was pretty into at the time.”
Now a junior, Middlebrook remains as involved on campus as she was in boarding school. She joined Delta Gamma sorority during her first year at Lehigh, and has become involved through the sorority in a number of philanthropies, including Girl Scouts, Big and Little Sisters, and Relay for Life. Additionally, she was one of the organizers of the Delta Gamma and Theta Chi Fashion 4 a Cure event, which is a fashion show that raises money to fight breast cancer.
A true GEM
She is also actively involved in the Greek EMerging Leaders program, which she entered as a sophomore who was mentored by an upperclass Greek student. Now, she helps mentor sophomores who have recently joined Greek life.
“It’s a really cool program because we get to meet people from other houses that care about improving the Greek community, and we work together to make positive changes,” Middlebrook says. “It’s great to help sophomores talk to their leadership and get to know more people.”
Jessica Misner Diehl, Greek Life Leadership Coordinator at Lehigh, runs the Greek EMerging Leaders program and has worked extensively with Middlebrook. The two met when Middlebrook was a sophomore in the program, and are still working together today.
“Stacey impressed me as a student leader from our very first interaction,” Diehl says. “She was a sophomore in the Greek EMerging Leaders Program and was full of insight about leadership and integrity. There was no question that she would step up and take on the role of a GEM Mentor and continue to make an impact on the Greek community.
“Her philanthropy work with the cookbook is a great example of this,” she says. “She not only found a worthy cause and raised awareness, but she also took action to raise funds and fight the disease. She leads by example, balancing the need for integrity and honesty with the need to take action.”