P.C. Rossin College of
Engineering and Applied Science
More than 500 students from Lehigh’s three undergraduate colleges recognized for high academic achievement

The rain outside did not deter the celebration inside as faculty and administrators processed into Baker Hall to the sounds of Mainstreet Brass, kicking off Lehigh’s annual Honors Convocation. The ceremony, which honors juniors and seniors who have earned a grade point average of 3.6 or higher out of a possible 4.0, took place on Friday, April 5, 2019, and recognized more than 500 students for high academic achievement.

The ceremony opened with an invocation from University Chaplain Lloyd Steffen, followed by brief comments from Pat Farrell, provost and vice president of academic affairs, who acknowledged the students’ hard work and accomplishments, and encouraged them to also take a moment to stop and reflect.

“What I want to remind you of is this: It's okay, every now and then, to ease off on the gas pedal. Because if you let yourself become addicted to busy, you'll neglect some very important parts of yourself. I’m not advocating laziness—just some reflection and an occasional internal check-in on whether your drive for success aligns with the difference you hope to be making in the world around you,” he said.

Maryam Athar Khan ’19
Maryam Athar Khan ’19

The Qualities that Define a Lehigh Student

As is tradition, the Honors Convocation featured student speakers nominated to represent each of Lehigh’s three undergraduate colleges.

Steve DeWeerth, professor and dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, reflected upon how he was writing a message just the day before to the newly accepted students of the Class of 2023, telling them how they’d be challenged if they came to Lehigh. “And then to look out in this room and see those students who have gone through the gauntlet and made it through and been challenged, followed their passions—it was a wonderful bookend over two days,” he said. “This is truly an honor to be here with all of you.” 

Listing the accomplishments of esteemed Lehigh engineering alumni who have left their marks on the world, DeWeerth noted that “in the Rossin College we’re very proud of all of these accomplishments from the past and all of the amazing accomplishments that our soon-to-be alumni here will contribute in their careers. … Lehigh is known to be a university that challenges its students to excel. By making it to the Honors Convocation, you have done just that: excelled in your academic pursuits and hopefully had some fun in the process. We hope that it is this combination of hard work and a passion for excellence that you will take away from Lehigh and take on to your future careers.”

DeWeerth introduced Maryam Athar Khan ’19, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in bioengineering.

Khan described one of her biggest challenges at Lehigh as when she enrolled in a 400-level computer science course that was cross-listed with her major. She realized quickly, she said, “that it was not going to be as simple as I thought.”

One of only two girls, two undergraduates and the only junior in the class—which was comprised primarily of male doctoral students—Khan said she was clearly the “odd one out.” She struggled with her lack of prior experience and the speed at which the material was taught, she explained.

“I spent the first few weeks pondering about whether or not to drop the course, to try again later,” Kahn said. “However, I realized that my reasons were all the wrong ones. I was worried about not getting an A, about how it would impact my GPA. In the midst of all that worrying, I had forgotten why I was enrolled in the class in the first place. I was here to learn. I was here to acquire new skills that would help me be the engineer that I wanted to be. And I was here to learn about new technologies that would help me in delivering better treatment and care to healthcare patients across the globe.”

Maryam Athar Khan ’19 speaks at the 2019 Honors Convocation
Grades do not define me as an individual. Rather, the actions I take in the face of hardship, the perseverance I possess, these are the qualities that define me as a Lehigh student.

Khan explained that she “had to reconcile with the fact that grades do not define me as an individual. Rather, the actions I take in the face of hardship, the perseverance I possess, these are the qualities that define me as a Lehigh student. And it is the lessons we learn when faced with adversity, and not necessarily the equations that we memorize sitting in class, that will take us far in life.”

Khan noted how Lehigh encourages students to excel both in and out of the classroom and offers unique opportunities not found at other institutions, using her own experience as a United Nations Youth Representative as an example. She encouraged her classmates to keep learning.

“Realize that no matter where you go, you will always have the skillset that you established at Lehigh guiding you along the way,” she said. “So be proud, this is your day. But realize this achievement doesn’t end here. Learning is an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, to step outside your comfort zone, to take that ridiculously hard class because you’re worried that you might fail. The only barrier that lies between you and your untapped potential is you. So let yourself go, and be excited to learn. Engage with your peers, interact and seek support from your professors, and leave today knowing that as Lehigh Honors students, it is our responsibility and our duty to never stop educating ourselves.”

Read the full story in the Lehigh University News Center
Story by Kelly Hochbein
Photography by Christa Neu