In high school, Candace Donegan ‘23, may have been struggling to find out where exactly she wanted to do so, but she always knew that she was going to college. 

“I really wanted to be that first one,” said Donegan. “Despite what other people say, I just wanted it for me.” 

Although the process to get here was tough, Donegan is grateful for her high school’s resources and guidance, as well as Lehigh’s financial support and resources

For Donegan, Lehigh accommodates a fair amount of her university financial expenses, and she also recently received a grant that helps even more.

With financials being less of a worry, Donegan said the opportunities and experiences she has had at Lehigh have built her confidence and helped her grow into a more outgoing and carefree individual. 

“Back in high school. I really did not have that much involvement in clubs or any type of leadership,” said Donegan. “I felt too intimidated by people around me, but when I got to Lehigh, honestly, I felt like I didn’t have to care about any of that anymore.”

Donegan is on the executive board of My Natural Crown. She also participates as an active member of Black Student Union, Cultural Greek Council, The Pride Center for Sexual Orientation & Gender Diversity, and, occasionally, Circle of Sisters.

“When I got here, I just really started to care a lot less in general and just prioritize what I have to do to really move myself forward, while still building some great bonds,” said Donegan. 

The individuals Donegan has met throughout her time at Lehigh have been one of the greatest things keeping her here. She loves seeing the student involvement with not only clubs, but also different communities coming together and working to find solutions in the face of problems on-campus.

The people she considers her closest friends on campus, Donegan met by sharing first generation themed housing her freshman year. 

In the themed community, Donegan said there were a lot of bonds and connections fostered not only because they were all first generation students, but also because the housing provided the students with a cultural connection.

“Especially when a lot of people feel so estranged being on this campus, because that’s how it felt for a lot of us just coming here, we felt very estranged,” said Donegan. “We felt like we could be a thousand percent ourselves, and just finding those people was really beneficial.”

Donegan said what has helped her more than anything is her support system, from her time applying to Lehigh, but especially from the experiences she has had while at Lehigh. She attributes a lot of her success and happiness at Lehigh to those she surrounds herself with. 

“If anybody really struggles, just try to find a reason to stay here. For a lot of people, that is really just the people around them,” said Donegan. “The good people around them is what really keeps them here and makes it easier for them to do what they have to do on a day-to-day basis.”