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Kristian Schmidt - A Passion for Diversity
Kristian Schmidt came to Lehigh from New Zealand as a Fulbright student. He received a master’s of education degree in comparative and international education in 2010 and currently works with students at a university in Ohio.
What was your background before you came to Lehigh?
In 2008, I graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and Arts conjoint from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. I was admitted to the bar later that year but instead of working for a law firm, I decided to continue working for the University of Auckland in the Equity Office. My focus was predominantly Maori and Pacific students and working toward improving access and retention rates.
Why did you decide to study at Lehigh?
I had never heard of Lehigh before IIE [the Institute of International Education] suggested it to me! I looked it up online and I loved how the Comparative and International Education program sounded, the location in terms of its proximity to Philly and New York City and how beautiful the campus looked. Lehigh was also very generous in its financial support so it was a done deal.
What were the highlights of your experience here?
The bonds I made are definitely at the top of the list! Other highlights include field/service trips to Cambodia, Israel, the West Bank and Ghana, attending briefings at the UN headquarters as a proxy delegate, working as a resident assistant, being a part of the Step, Rugby and Rowing teams, mentoring and tutoring in STAR, initiating “Talanoa” [a storytelling process derived from Pacific islands traditions] with the College of Ed Equity and Community Initiative grant and acting in “The Little Foxes.” I was also honored with a Student Life Leadership Award in 2012.
What have you been doing since you graduated?
I have been working in Student Life at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. I chose the school for its diversity and changing climate since it only just started its athletics program a few years ago to attract traditional students.
Are you still working on access and diversity issues at Lourdes University? Why do you think it's important to work on those issues?
Yes! I think it's important that as a society, we look after everyone, especially those most in need. We can’t help the circumstances we’re born into but I believe we should all still have the same opportunities to enjoy life all the same.
Would you recommend that other Fulbright recipients come to Lehigh? If so, why?
Absolutely! Lehigh was such an amazing experience! I've met so many great, talented young people and staff at Lehigh and in the wider community. I consider it another home. The opportunities to get involved and try new things are endless too!