Lauren Harte’s world turned upside down one day when she was in fifth grade, when her mother, Janet, informed her and the rest of the family that she had breast cancer.
“I’ll never forget it. You hear the word ‘cancer’ and naturally you get scared,” says Harte, a senior accounting major. “But my mom is a real fighter and she’s a cancer survivor, thank God.”
It turns out that Janet Harte isn’t the only warrior in the family.
Lauren Harte, the president of the Panhellenic Council, devoted hours of her spare time this semester helping Lehigh’s recent Pink Week raise awareness about breast cancer and money for research to cure it.
The week’s events included the annual See-Saw Marathon, sponsored by Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and Sigma Chi fraternity, as well as new events like the “Real Men Wear Pink” fashion show, in which male students modeled bras designed by student organizations.
Cancer-fighting foods were served at another first-time event, Pink Night, which was held in the Rathbone and the Cort Dining Halls and sponsored by Dining Services, the Student Senate and the Panhellenic Council.
All told, Pink Week raised $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, formerly known as the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which is one of the world’s largest breast cancer charities.
“I’m thrilled with the amount of money we raised, but even more excited about all the different organizations from across campus—both Greek and non-Greek groups—that came together to make Pink Week such a success,” says Harte. “Cancer touches everyone’s life and I guess that’s why so many people put their time and energy toward the fundraisers.”
Veronica Hunter, Greek life coordinator and an adviser to the Panhellenic Council, echoes Harte’s sentiments.
“I would have to say that the groups came together for all of the events because of the excitement and drive from the Panhellenic Board to make it the best Pink Week ever,” says Hunter. “There were new activities implemented this year as well as amazing collaboration between Greek and non-Greek student groups. I think these new components caught the eye of many different groups on campus.”
A contagious passion, and a willingness to delegate
Hunter also credits Harte’s enthusiasm.
“Lauren has an outstanding personality,” says Hunter. “She is very passionate about educating others on important issues that range from personal health to safety on campus. Her passion is one that I like to call contagious.
“Lauren is the epitome of a student leader as she recognizes that she cannot do such great work on her own. The leadership of Panhellenic Council is one that extends across the board. Lauren encourages the hearts of her peers and motivates them to exceed expectations through hard work, dedication and creativity. She is a true motivation to me as her adviser.”
“Lauren continually shows the Lehigh community what an impactful leader looks like,” says Tim Wilkinson, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. “She has inspired others both in Alpha Omicron Pi and Panhellenic Council and has done so in a way that reflects values, commitment and citizenship.”
Buoyed by the success she had in organizing Pink Week, Harte, who will graduate with an accounting degree in May 2010 and return to Lehigh next year as a presidential scholar, has worked with the Panhellenic Council Executive Board to put together a progressive dinner in which sorority members eat at different houses on campus over the course of this week to learn what is important to each house. In the spring, she’ll work with the Women’s Center to help organize Women’s Health and Wellness Week.
“The reason for the progressive dinner is to build more camaraderie among the sororities on this campus,” says Harte, whose sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi, was awarded the Jessie Wallace Hughan Cup (chapter of the year) over the summer.
“Once you pledge a certain sorority, you sometimes get caught up in your group and what matters to that sorority. This is a chance for women on campus to reacquaint themselves with other sororities on campus, make new friends and build a stronger bond among the sororities.
“The Women’s Health and Wellness Week, which takes place each March, is a really important event and our goal is to make it even bigger and better and to involve groups from all over campus—just like we did with Pink Week.”