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Lehigh opens the world to international student

Schmid simultaneously held the presidencies of two major student organizations at Lehigh (one of which is the second largest student-run organization on campus), mingled with students in the United Arab Emirates, met with the Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, and was quoted and photographed in The New York Times.

All in addition to taking 22 credits and holding down two jobs last fall.

Schmid, a computer science major who grew up in Tübingen, Germany, admits he didn't always want to come to Lehigh, but he's been happy with his decision since arriving here in August 2000.

"I initially wanted to go to MIT, and I wasn't going to apply anywhere else," Schmid says. "But then I read in the college handbook that I should apply to more than one university (in Germany you just have to pick a university and fill out a form), so I looked into others as well, Lehigh obviously being one of them."

Lehigh managed to stay on Schmid's list as he eliminated schools, eventually beating out MIT.

"The decision to come to Lehigh was a good one," Schmid says. "Although I would have gotten a good education in Germany, I never would have been able to do all the things I've done here, which are worth a lot."

A global perspective

Schmid's career at Lehigh accelerated right from the beginning. "I was technically a freshman at Lehigh for less than 24 hours. We have 13 years of school in Germany, so I convinced Lehigh not to make me take physics and chemistry," Schmid says.

On his second day at Lehigh, Schmid had declared his major as a sophomore. He also dove right into extracurricular activities, enthusiastically taking advantage of the many opportunities for growth that Lehigh offers.

"Being the only undergraduate from Germany, there was no way around me being in the German Club," he says. In the German club, Schmid became the representative to the Global Union (GU). "Then Bill Hunter (director of international students) asked if I had any interest in running the GU, and I said 'Sure, I'll do it,'" Schmid recalls.

As the GU president, Schmid was heavily involved with the September 11th anniversary events on campus, as well as helping to organize the February campus visit by Imad Musa, producer of the Arab-based television network Al Jazeera. He also helped coordinate Lehigh’s International Bazaars, and played a major role in organizing International Week in 2002 and 2001, where he performed in an "international" shortened version of Romeo & Juliet.

In addition, Schmid was president of Lehigh's chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, which he calls "the pride of the university," as it was founded at Lehigh in 1885. As president, Schmid initiated new members and organized Tau Beta Pi's district 3 conference at Lehigh.

Of all his experiences at Lehigh, Schmid’s favorite was Global Village 2002. The Global Village is a group of 70-plus people from up to 40 countries who convene for six weeks at Lehigh in the summer to learn about business, industry and leadership in a global society.

"We traveled to New York and Washington, D.C. and worked on real-life projects. Global Village was probably the best time of my life," Schmid says.

From the Village, Schmid says his network of friends and colleagues across the globe continues to grow.

Schmid attributes much of his success at Lehigh to his time management skills.

"I rely 100 percent on my schedule," he says, which he keeps in the PDA strapped to his hip. "If something is in there, I'll remember to go to it months later. If it's not, I won't go."

Schmid may have graduated on May 19, but he is not quite ready to leave Lehigh. He'll be staying for an additional year on the President's scholarship to get a masters degree in computer science. After that, "we'll see what happens," Schmid says.

Given his track record, something good is bound to.

--Elizabeth Shimer
elsc@lehigh.edu

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2003

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