Meet Undergraduate Commencement Speaker Jiyeon Lee

Jiyeon Lee

During her time in CLA, Jiyeon Lee, a developmental psychology major and integrative neuroscience minor, worked as a clinical research assistant at the Autism and Neurodevelopment Clinic at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) and a classroom assistant at the University's Child Development Lab School. She also served as the president of the student organization Volunteer In Progress (VIP) and was a member of the Korean International Student Organization (KISO). Next up: serving as the student speaker for CLA's undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 12, and working to create bright futures for our community’s children.

What was your favorite college class? How did it prepare you for the next phase of your life?

My favorite class was LEAD 1961W, a leadership course taught by Evonne Bilotta-Burke. I initially took it for a writing requirement, but it quickly became more than that. Evonne's approach to teaching emphasized involvement, authenticity, and vulnerability. I learned that leadership isn't about being bossy; it's about knowing yourself and connecting with others. During the group projects, I was able to experience the power of community leadership, where everyone contributes to the team's success. Evonne's class helped me see that being vulnerable can be a strength and that a supportive environment fosters growth. This understanding has prepared me to take on new challenges and make a positive impact in my future endeavors.

How would you describe your time in your major?

I had never really thought about myself in the way that I do now. As a college student, I had the chance to make my own choices, pursue those paths, research, and reflect. Unlike when I was younger, I was given the chance to fully explore what I truly wanted. I delved deeper into understanding myself, tested my abilities, and experienced personal growth.

If you could go back and give your first-year self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would like to say to my younger self: “Take advantage of as many resources around you as you can. Although they might not seem beneficial in the short term, they will eventually help you towards your end goal.”

What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

To be honest, I don't have a specific career plan set in stone for post-graduation yet. However, I have a clear goal that I want to achieve. I want to create a better community for children. I plan to further my research for children and work towards ensuring they receive quality education and nurturing. Additionally, I want to build a community where caregivers can share their concerns, discuss challenges related to raising children, and find the support they need. I believe after graduation, I will be involved in laying the groundwork for this community-focused initiative. 

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