During my senior year at Lehigh University, I completed a senior honors thesis titled "City with Limits: An Untold History of Residential Segregation and Education Inequality in Allentown, PA." This work argues that Allentown's urban renewal projects in the 1960s led to the segregation of Allentonians of color into the city’s downtown area, which allowed the outside neighborhoods to remain majority-white. Because these urban renewal projects were authorized and sponsored by the state, the subsequent segregation exists as de jure, or by the law, segregation. In the second half of the thesis, I argue that the government’s role in dividing Allentown along racial lines created a racially segregated public school system in which Parkland High School educates a majority-white student body while the inner-city William Allen High School houses mostly students of color. This education system is unfair because Parkland outperforms William Allen across most academic measures, highlighting the fact that students of color in Allentown are disproportionately barred from academic achievement and success. I conclude the thesis by offering fair housing and equal funding and education policies that would help Allentown fulfill its vision of becoming a “City without limits.”After graduating from Lehigh, I have committed to attending Yale Law School and deferred my entrance date one year to August 2021. I have accepted a role with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley as a Racial and Ethnic Justice Community Organizer during my deferral year. In this capacity, I will work to break down the barriers to racial, economic, and housing equity in the Lehigh Valley that I discussed in my thesis.
Currently attending Vanderbilt Law School.
Jonathan is currently a Project Scientist at JM Sorge Envirmental Consultants.
I fell in love with history while exploring Civil War battlefields as a kid but it was my experiences at Lehigh that taught me about the intersection of history and real-world issues. My professors and fellow students showed me how to direct my passion for history and use it as a tool for creating meaningful dialogue in my community. I first set foot on Lehigh’s campus as an undergraduate student in 2007 and by the time I left with my Master’s degree in 2014 I learned the value of historical research and its applications beyond the walls of Maginnes Hall. Some of my favorite memories from my time at Lehigh are from public history and digital humanities projects that brought community members from Lehigh and Bethlehem together to discuss ongoing issues and their hopes for the future. Lehigh taught me to continue to be curious about the relationship between historical research and ongoing community needs and the creative ways we can engage with our past.
At Lehigh, I found a passion for history that was fostered through interesting coursework and a general academic spirit that was found on campus. The history department and the faculty there helped me to find interests within history and encouraged me explore those areas. My time at Lehigh and working with Dr. Lebovic and some of the other professors and graduate students is what inspired me to try and pursue my PhD.
I received my M.A. in History from Lehigh in 2012, while working concurrently full-time as a high school history teacher at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA. My studies at Lehigh proved invaluable, both in and out of the classroom. Thanks in large part to the outstanding teaching and guidance of the professors within the department, I grew tremendously as an educator in just over two years of course work. I was able to focus on specific content areas of interest, but also gained a depth and breadth of knowledge that I hadn't anticipated prior to beginning the program. Currently I am the Head of the History & Social Science Department at St. George's School in Middletown, RI. In addition, I hold the Anthony M. Zane Chair in History, awarded to recognize and promote excellence in history teaching, and also serve as an assistant coach for the Varsity Football and Boys' Varsity Ice Hockey teams.
I attended Lehigh from August 2008-January 2012. I majored in History and minored in English and Classical studies. I declared my major early on and loved all the classes I took within the history department. I especially loved "America: Sinners, Witches, and Saints," "The French Revolution and Napoleon," and "The History of the Lehigh Valley." I presented a paper entitled: “An Analysis of the Roger Clap’s Memoirs in Relation to the Start of the Puritan Community of Dorchester" at the Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) Pennsylvania East Regional Conference in 2012 under the direction of Michelle LeMaster. I had such a great experience at Lehigh and believe that my classes allowed me to hone my ability to write, as well as my my communication and organizational skills. I have lived in Chicago for two years and work at The University of Chicago Medicine, in the Department of Surgery, as an Administrative Specialist. I manage the daily administrative needs on both an academic and clinical level for the surgeons and the clinical staff of the section. I prepare itineraries for faculty traveling engagements, organize section-hosted events, such as our annual fellowship interviews, and coordinate all meeting and surgery appointments for our five surgeons. I manage faculty credentialing, assist in designing clinical templates, and have acted as managing editor on several publication projects for my section chief. I am also the current Chair of the Department of Surgery’s Employee Engagement Committee, which is responsible for the department’s community involvement, as well as honoring staff with appreciation events and gifts.Beyond my 8-5 job, I participate in lots of other endeavors as well. I am a brand ambassador for a yoga pant company called Buddha Pants, and write for their blog monthly. I also work for a yoga studio and practice 3 times a week. In addition, I have become an avid runner and have recently run the Chicago Spring Half Marathon.
I completed my BA and MA at Lehigh in the history department. My thesis topics were the Battle for the Aleutians and the role of Chinese-American veterans in the Second World War with a focus on immigration and political activism. I received a minority intern scholarship from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Afterwards, I went to grad school at Rutgers for library and information science and am now employed at Lehigh University as the acquisitions librarian. Finding books is a LOT like history and the research process. I was awarded conference scholarships on two separate occasions by Brodart and the Copyright Clearance Center.
When I started college at Lehigh, I was already interested in working in museums. I complemented more traditional history classes with courses in public history as well as museum studies (through the Lehigh UniversityArt Gallery). After Lehigh, I pursued an M.A. in Museum Studies from George Washington University, graduating in 2012. Throughout undergrad and graduate school, I found a range of related internships and work at museums, historic houses, libraries, and exhibition design firms. Gaining this experience while still in school helped me land a job at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City, where I worked to open the new museum to the public. There I coordinated a range of digital media projects that help to tell the story of what happened on September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of the attacks. In early 2015, I returned to my hometown of Chicago, and now work for The Field Museum where I manage web and digital projects related to science and natural history.
I started taking Public History courses as an undergraduate at Lehigh in an effort to channel my lifelong love of American history and historical artifacts. A meeting with Professor Kim Carrell-Smith in the fall of my senior year generated a series of opportunities to work directly with Lehigh’s Special Collections and their curator, Lois Black, as well as the collections at Historic Bethlehem Partnership and their curator at the time, Bonnie Stacy. After many summer internships and jobs at local historic sites, historic houses, and national museums, I pursued an M.A. in the History of Decorative Arts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The critical skills learned in my coursework as an undergraduate, the exceptional instruction offered and dedication expected by professors, and the discovery of my own abilities while at Lehigh have served me well as a museum professional. Lehigh taught me that perseverance, whether in research efforts or towards career opportunities, is invaluable. I leaned upon this most recently, while searching for my current job as Research Assistant in American furniture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I grew up in Cupertino, California. I entered Lehigh in the College of A&S and started early on the dual major in History and Economics. In addition, I took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the Lehigh in New York (Summer of '03) and Lehigh in Belgium (Summer of '04) under the direction of History faculty. Both were significant life experiences. I spent my summer between Junior and Senior Year as an intern in New York City for Deutsche Bank. My first job after graduation was at Deutsche Bank securities, then five years at Goldman Sachs, before joining Bank of America Merrill Lynch in my current job as a Vice President in Investment Banking - Equity Capital Markets.
Career After Graduation: I started my career at J.P. Morgan in a 2 year rotational program where I had the opportunity to rotate around different lines of business within J.P. Morgan. After the program, I settled into the Investment Bank Finance department and held a variety of roles (including Project Management, Financial Control, and Business Management). One of the highlights of my career was being the Finance lead on a project to integrate the Bear Stearns settlement and clearing infrastructure with J.P. Morgan's trading and accounting platforms after the two companies merged back in 2008. After 6 years in the Investment Bank, I recently moved into the Corporate Sector to help establish a new organization called the Risk Controller Team and I am now currently the Credit Risk Controller for the firm. The skills that I learned while at Lehigh, specifically pursuing my History degree (things like clear and concise communication, critical thinking, etc), have proved invaluable over the course of my career and have helped me get to where I am today
Lou Benfante graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1969 with a B.A. in History. He graduated magna cum laude with Interdepartmental Honors and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He still serves as a class officer and as a member of his class’ Reunion Committee. Lou has volunteered for the Alumni Admissions Outreach Program, founded the Lehigh Alumni Club of the South Carolina Lowcountry, and is a member of the Lehigh University Alumni Association Board of Directors. He was recently presented with a Distinguished Alumni award, which is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus by the university.Lou’s career included over 40 years as a Supply Chain Management executive with companies such as Milliken, Estee Lauder, Cummins, and finally Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina Hospitals. During his tenure at Cummins, Lou served on the Cummins Diversity Council, the Cummins Worldwide Materials Leadership Council, and the Cummins Worldwide Logistics and Transportation Council. From 1992-2003, he served on the Board Directors of the Charleston chapter of APICS, including one term as its President.While he was employed as Director of Materials Management for Hilton Head and Coastal Carolina Hospitals, which are owned by Tenet Healthcare, he was a member of the Tenet Materials Management Advisory Committee. During this time he also served the South Carolina Hospital Association as a member of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Society of Hospital’s Materials Management, including one term as President.After retiring at the end of 2010, Lou joined the all-volunteer Heritage Library where he was finally able to use his History degree. He is presently serving as President of the Library’s Board of Directors and as Chairman of the History Department. He conducts weekly lectures on the history of Hilton Head Island, weekly tours of Fort Mitchel and the Zion Cemetery, and also teaches courses for the University of South Carolina at Beaufort’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and for Lifelong Learning of Hilton Head Island. He has written numerous articles on the history of Hilton Head Island for local publications.He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Mitchelville Preservation Project, serving as its Education and Research Chairman. Lou is currently a member of the South Carolina Historical Society, Beaufort County Historical Society, Gullah Geechee Consortium of Beaufort County, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Coastal Discovery Museum, Santa Elena Foundation, Italian American Club of Hilton Head Island, the VanLandingham Rotary Club, Beaufort County Heritage Tourism Task Force, and the Greater Island Council.