The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

‘This is my home’: Alumni turned faculty, staff share their Lafayette journeys

Director of Intercultural Development Robert Young ’14 was a Posse scholar, an orientation leader and a manager for the men’s basketball team during his time on College Hill. (Photo courtesy of Robert Young ’14)

While many students have called Lafayette their home, some alumni decided to put down roots by becoming members of the college’s faculty or staff.

Professor of civil and environmental engineering Mary Roth ‘83 came to Lafayette as a civil engineering major hoping to take advantage of the college’s extracurricular activities.

During her time at Lafayette as an undergraduate, Roth participated in the choir, Chamber Singers, marching band, orchestra and woodwind quintet. She was also a McKelvy scholar and a typist for The Lafayette, and was heavily involved in theater as a stage manager, actor and producer. 

“I wanted to go to a place where I could do engineering, but also do other things,” Roth said. “I mostly just kind of followed my curiosity, whatever interested me.”

“[I took] courses outside of the norm — I took sketching and logic and history and public speaking,” she continued.

Roth believes that it would have been difficult to explore her interdisciplinary passions at larger institutions.

“It would have been harder at most places that have larger engineering programs,” she said.

Professor Mary Roth ’83 was drawn back to Lafayette because of its liberal arts appeal. (Photo courtesy of Mary Roth)

After graduation, Roth earned a master’s degree at Cornell University and a doctoral degree at the University of Maine. Going to these larger institutions made her aware of the advantages of being a Lafayette student.

“Seeing what it was like at [an] Ivy League and a large public state school, I realized I benefited a lot from being a student at Lafayette,” she said. “The liberal arts with engineering, the small size that makes it possible [to] do different activities that at another school might be limited to people majoring in those activities.”

Roth takes a student-focused approach in the classroom.

“[I am] pretty student-focused. Choosing to come and teach is a student-focused activity and I’ve always wanted to try to do the best I can to help students learn and thrive,” she said,

Roth has seen Lafayette change dramatically in her 32 years of teaching.

“Physically, it’s changed a lot. There are new buildings, the new student center, the library expansion … the Williams Performance Center had not opened up, the downtown campus wasn’t even being thought of at that point,” she said of her time as a student.

Robert Young ’14 joined the Lafayette staff in 2014 following his graduation. (Photo courtesy of Robert Young ’14)

Director of Intercultural Development Robert Young ‘14 felt drawn to Lafayette while considering his undergraduate options.

“When I came to campus and visited and saw the Quad, it just felt right,” Young said. “The campus is always Instagram-ready. Everybody was smiling. The relationships were there and I really wanted to be part of a community.”

Young was a film and media studies and women’s and gender studies double major as well as a Posse scholar. He was involved in campus life as a member of Kaleidoscope, an orientation leader, a manager for the men’s basketball team and an employee in Special Collections.

At Lafayette, Young was a part of a community that uplifted one another. 

“When I went to Lafayette, it was this culture in which everybody was like, ‘How do we support one another, but how do we have fun in that process?’” he said. “Everybody wanted to come in and challenge themselves and wanted to come here to grow.”

Young joined the college staff immediately after graduating in 2014 before leaving the institution in 2016, but he did not stay away for long. In 2020 he was named Director of Intercultural Development, a role that has become increasingly involved as the college diversifies.

“When I went to Lafayette, Lafayette was not at all as culturally diverse as it is now, wasn’t geographically diverse as it is now and it wasn’t as socially aware as it is now,” he said.

Additionally, Young is a Posse mentor, a role typically reserved for tenured faculty.

“To me, that’s something that’s a huge pride point. It’s something that really came full circle,” he said. “My Posse are seniors now so we went through a journey together that I can speak to directly because I did it.”

Young makes a conscious effort not to let his memories of Lafayette overshadow how current students view the institution.

“The one thing I’m extremely mindful of as an alum is that I never want to live within the nostalgia of my own snow globe,” Young said. “[Students] set the tone and I truly believe that you all are the vanguards … to how we’re going to move in this space. I come to work every day excited to engage and to build, because how you all see the institutions shapes my love for it every day.”

His status as an alum helps him to build deeper connections with students.

“I can’t do this job and not have the lens of my experience because I walked the same halls you did, maybe even taught by the same faculty. I think that’s what also makes my relationships a bit more unique because we can go beyond my job,” Young said. “I’m proud of my Leopard pride and I rock it hard because this is my home too.”

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About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

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