This year’s annual Graduate Student Appreciation Week was bigger and better than ever, offering a number of new programs designed to show graduate students just how much they are valued at Lehigh.
“Appreciation Week is a great way for us to say thanks to graduate students from all the colleges,” says Kathleen Hutnik, director of Graduate Student Life
. “We hope that all of the events we offered provided the opportunity for students to mix, mingle, meet someone new, and have fun.”
To help achieve that mission, the Graduate Life Office recently sponsored the first-ever Graduate Student Formal, held as the inaugural event at South Bethlehem’s new Steel Stacks venue, which provided a unique opportunity for students and their families to dress up, dance, and enjoy the brand new cultural center in South Bethlehem. The event, says Hutnik, was a huge success, and a welcome change to the everyday routine of the semester.
Programs aimed at highlighting the diversity of Lehigh’s graduate students, 50 percent of whom are international, also punctuated the week’s activities. A breakfast hosted by the Thai Club and an ESL Social celebrated the cultures and contributions of students from all over the globe.
As Hutnik explains, Appreciation Week’s goal is to celebrate diversity in all its forms.
“In general, Appreciation Week does honor the diversity among our graduate students,” she says, “but it truly is diversity writ large: diversity of disciplines, diversity of culture and ethnicity, diversity of interests, diversity of ages.”
To that end, another event, the Dean’s Graduate Awards Luncheon, honored more students than ever, whose contributions are not only varied, but indispensible. The students recognized by the various awards represented remarkable achievements in terms of commitment, leadership, and service to the graduate community. Those honored included Adafo Austin and Christina Godfried Sie, recipients of the Graduate Merit Award; Bora Baloglu, Wei Li, and Shalena Heard, recipients of the Graduate Life Leadership Award; and Philip LaPorta, Suhui Li, and Breeanne Baker, recipients of the TA of the Year Award.
The weeklong event, which annually features favorite activities such as an ice cream social, pizza taste-off, and a picnic in Saucon Village for students and their families, is sponsored primarily by the Graduate Student Life Office with help from the Graduate Student Senate. It has been held at Lehigh since 2002, and is part of an annual national celebration of exceptional graduate students in every field.