The greatest vote of confidence alumni can cast is that of encouraging a son or daughter to attend their alma mater. Laurie Pineda ’80 and Alan Kalish ’79 cast their vote of confidence in leading their son Ari Kalish ’07 to pursue his degree at Lehigh.
“There was always a little push toward Lehigh,” says Kalish, a computer engineering major and member of Phi Sigma Kappa. “I applied to other schools and got in, and I know my parents would have been proud of me no matter where I went. My parents were very supportive of my decision [to attend Lehigh].”
The process of guiding their son toward a home-away-from-home was one the Kalish family took very seriously. Laurie Pineda ’80 earned her B.A. in French and Spanish and enjoyed an active campus life as a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, and the Student Activities Council.
Alan Kalish ’79 earned a B.A. in English and he too was active as a member of Chi Phi and on the staff at Lehigh TV station WLTN as a cameraman.
Both Pineda and Kalish knew from experience the value of being connected on and around campus. Their encouragement of son Ari to attend Lehigh was grounded in what his mother found to be vital: her relationships.
“I encouraged him to take advantage of the contacts I still had at Lehigh—lifelong friends,” she says.
Dad got his son off to a good start by suggesting that he do a little research. “I asked Ari to put together his list of 10 schools that he would consider, and from there we started our hunt,” he says. “We weeded out those that didn't offer quite the curriculum he wanted. Of those remaining, Lehigh was still high on the list, and in the fall we started checking them out. I knew how great a school Lehigh was, but I wanted Ari to decide for himself.”
And it wasn’t as though Ari had never been to Lehigh. It had just been a while.
“As a kid, my two earliest memories are of Lehigh,” he says. “My mom was an employee at Lehigh for a while and used to take me to the faculty dining room in the UC for lunch. I also remember running around the Media Center, where I now work.”
While father and son were in the New York metro area attending the acceptance day events at another school, they decided to swing by Bethlehem to check it out.
“We drove out to Lehigh and walked around the campus,” Ari recalls. “My dad told me some of his stories from when he and my mom attended. We ate at Lump's on Center Street, what I had remembered as the neighborhood deli when we lived in Bethlehem.”
His father proved a convincing guide. And the elder Kalish also came away pleased with their tour of campus and the surrounding area. “I couldn't help but be impressed with the state of the campus. Unlike other things in life, time had served Lehigh well,” Kalish says. “The campus was (and still is) beautiful.”
The visit helped Ari realize that attending a large state school wouldn’t be right for him.
“I realized that if I went to a state school, I would be just a face,” he says. “At Lehigh, I wouldn't be unless I wanted it that way. On other campus visits, I saw a freshman chemistry lab, not lecture, with more than 150 people in it. I just couldn't deal with that. At Lehigh, my lab had maybe 30 people. If we needed help, it was easy to find and everyone in the lab knew each other.”
That personal touch also stands out as a part of his mother’s experiences at Lehigh.
“I enjoyed being a big fish in the little pond of Modern Foreign Languages, and I made friends for life among faculty and the Media Center staff where I worked as an undergrad,” Pineda says.
A Lehigh family
Ari credits his parents with offering good advice both before and after his decision to attend Lehigh.
“Before I chose Lehigh, my dad said, "You're going to work harder there than any other time in your life, but you'll enjoy every minute of it.,"’ Ari says. “So far, he's been right. Now that I'm attending, every time I call my dad tells me, `You have two jobs: One, stay healthy and two, get good grades. You can do whatever you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with those two things.’
“My mom told me to go where I thought I would be happiest and that she would be happy with any choice I made,” he adds. “Every time I brought up Lehigh, a little smile crept up on her face. My mom continually jokes that I should have stayed at home, gone to community college and kept my summer job. But I know she’s joking, she just misses me!”
What do two Lehigh graduates expect of their son while on campus? “I expect a GPA
over 3.0 (I am a Jewish mother!) and that he enjoy what Lehigh has to offer in all its forms—academic and social,” Pineda says.
“For me,” his dad says, “I do expect that Ari will do his best in all mandated tasks. But beyond that, I hope he finds his true life's work, a career where he would be both creative and passionate. Being rich wouldn't be so bad, either.”
Having parents who were both honors students at Lehigh creates some pretty big academic shoes to fill.
“Overall, being a legacy is much better than I thought it would be,” Ari says. “Not only do I have a preexisting relationship with the people that my parents knew when they were here, but also my friends all think it's awesome that both my parents went here. The first week we were here, I was the only one on the hall who knew where to get a decent pizza! Being a legacy also sets me apart from a lot of my friends, as they have no connection to Lehigh other than what they've done in the last year or so. Lehigh has been a part of me since the day I was born.”
His parents couldn’t be more pleased, or proud.
“Ari knows what we did right and what we could have done better [while we were students at Lehigh],” the elder Kalish says. “Now in his freshman year, he's making smarter choices than we did 30 years ago. In addition, he's doing the work, and still he's enjoying what Lehigh and Bethlehem have to offer.”
Pineda adds: “We are very proud to be a Lehigh family and have more children we hope to add to the legacy in the future! I never dreamed when I put the "I am a knee-high at Lehigh" T-shirt on Ari in 1985 that he would wind up in the class of 2007!”
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Posted on Tuesday, March 16, 2004