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Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network » Student Spotlight » November Student Spotlight: Grace Lee

November Student Spotlight: Grace Lee

Grace Lee

Grace Lee, a Biology/Plan II Honors senior at The University of Texas at Austin, will be graduating this Fall 2010. Within her 4 years here, Grace has been involved in various activities: writer for hercampus UT, poet for LiNK, dancer for KUSA dance crew, active member and leader at her church, undergraduate researcher for the Children’s Psychology Research Lab, and many others. She was also a Resident Assistant (RA) for Kinsolving, having won RA of the Month and Year in previous years. Grace’s passion and efforts in assisting underdeveloped countries have helped students become aware of global issues and have inspired many others to become active in changing the world.

1. What is your favorite memory, tradition, or thing about UT?

The setting of one of my favorite memories is the rooftop of RLM! During my first year, I took a nighttime astronomy lab. Half our classes took place above the 17 stories, and we’d sketch and identify constellations and planets (both with our naked eye and with telescopes/binoculars). The lab was both humbling and jaw dropping. I was reminded that just as Austin is a speck on Earth, Earth is a speck in the universe.

2. UT’s motto is “What starts here, changes the world”. What is one thing you would like to see change at UT?

It’d be nice to see more students mix with Austinites from different social backgrounds, cultures, and generations through volunteer activities. As students, many (if not most) of our meaningful interactions are with other students and university faculty and staff, which represent a tiny fraction of Austin’s demographics. In order to change the world for the better, we’ve got to see and know the world beyond UT life. It’ll help us to become more holistic thinkers and actors. Plus, we each have lots to offer children and the elderly – multiplication skills, entertaining performances, and a listening ear are but three of many!

3. What have you learned from UT outside of the classroom?

UT is where I first heard the word “human” coupled with “trafficking”. It’s also where I first learned how many parallels we can find between North Korea and Orwell’s 1984. Thanks to a few of UT’s compassionate and visionary organizations (specifically Liberty in North Korea, Asian American Campus Ministry, and China Care), I’ve learned to be globally minded and have become more sensitive to humanitarian issues. There are so many different causes… If you just walk through the West Mall, you’ll see tablers left and right trying to be a voice for the voiceless. I encourage people with a few spare minutes to hear what the organizations are about!

4. What are your future ambitions and career aspirations?

After seeing the need for and fruits of medical clinics abroad, I hope to become a doctor and volunteer in underdeveloped countries for a month or two every year. Creative outlet wise, I hope to write children’s books and compose Christian songs.

5. What motivated you to become involved in spoken word? (Grace performed a spoken word piece for Miss UT Asia last year and was chosen as 1st runner up)

Three things!

My mom pursued her master’s degree in Creative Writing at UT while I was in middle school, so I often saw her read and write poetry.

My second year at UT, a few friends and I formed a spoken word and a capella fusion performance group. At the time, I didn’t write or perform spoken word pieces. I sang, but I often heard poems written by Imaad and Sam.

Last year, I went to two Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) screenings and first learned about the depth and breadth of the North Korean crisis. I felt moved to spread awareness about Kim Jong Il’s regime, and writing was the first means that came to mind.

6. What are some memorable moments from your study abroad trip in Southeast Asia (International Nutrition in Singapore and Vietnam)?

In Singapore, we learned how to prepare a three-course Singaporean meal at a culinary academy! Many of the ingredients we used were gathered from a large herb garden in the back. Also, it was neat to walk through Singaporean wet markets, where vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, etc.

In Vietnam, a few of us got the chance to spend several hours on a farm. We watered plants, planted lemon basil shoots, and learned how to cook Banh Xeo (Vietnamese omelet). Roller skating with the children of the Green Bamboo Shelter was another highlight. I’ll always remember the karaoke session we had on the bus ride to the rink. Though the boys don’t speak much English, they sang Christmas carols and Michael Jackson songs!

What I’ve described really only scratches the surface. I’m a BIG fan of studying abroad and think every student should seriously consider it!

7. Who is an important role model to you?

To state the obvious, my parents! From my mom’s giving heart to my dad’s work ethic, I’ve learned valuable qualities and habits by watching their example.

To state the not-so-obvious, all the people I meet regularly. If you think about it, there’s a wide array of great traits (i.e. humility, optimism, patience), making it pretty much impossible to find a single person who can model everything. I think all people are gifted in different areas. I can learn from everyone in my life!

To state the most important, Jesus. Unlike regular ole humans, he can model them all. People stumble and fail at times, but Jesus led a flawless life on Earth.

8. What advice can you give incoming freshmen or current students?

Try not to stretch yourself too thin while at UT! In other words, be able to count your extracurricular commitments on one hand. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself putting mediocre effort into the many organizations. Your mind and spirit may want to juggle them all, but your body can only do so much.

Also, before you commit to a small handful of organizations, be sure to dabble in a variety so you can get a good grasp on which are the best fits for you. Once you know, dive in!

Written by Gary Hwu

Filed under: Student Spotlight

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