Grace Hyunjung Lee will advocate for current and prospective graduate students at Texas Tech in ambassador role for 2021-2022
Third-year Nutritional Sciences Ph.D. student Grace Hyunjung Lee was selected as a graduate school ambassador for the 2021-2022 academic year. In this role, Lee will advocate for the needs and concerns of current and prospective graduate students. She will promote the pursuit of graduate education at Texas Tech and help foster relationships between the Graduate School and academic departments across campus.
“As a Ph.D. student, I think it's easy to live in an academic bubble because it is truly a pressure chamber,” Lee said. “At the same time, I believe it is equally important to take care of, and uplift, our community because helping our communities succeed will strengthen our society as a whole. I thought a Graduate Ambassador position would be a great opportunity to continue giving back to our community.”
Six years ago, Lee came to Texas Tech as an exchange student from South Korea. Although she was intimidated by the leap, she built strong relationships in the College of Human Sciences and at Texas Tech.
“I have established life-long friendships with people from all around the world while at Texas Tech University,” Lee said. “I also have met great mentors and professors who have helped me become a teacher, researcher, and leader. Dr. Wilna Oldewage-Theron, my current research advisor, and Dr. Mary Murimi, my advisor during my master's program, have had the greatest impact on my life and guided me through my research journey. Lydia Kloiber helped me learn important life skills by letting me teach more than 200 undergraduate students during the last three years.”
Lee's mentors have aided in her focus on community nutrition and health interventions, specifically through the lab experience led by Nutritional Sciences professor Wilna Oldewage-Theron, Ph.D., RD(SA). Lee has expanded on her research interests through study abroad and research experiences, which has allowed her to become more appreciative of cultural differences.
“I am a first-generation, international, and minority student,” Lee said. “By studying abroad at Texas Tech University and doing nutritional research projects, especially among marginalized communities, I have become more open-minded, empathetic, and appreciative of diverse cultures and people. I hope to foster a safe and inclusive environment where all voices of students are being heard, using a platform such as a peer-mentoring program.”
On-campus, Lee wants to impact food insecurity issues among students and plans to prioritize this initiative in her graduate ambassador role.
“Food insecurity is one of the main barriers to graduating among university students. Considering an already high food insecurity rate even before the COVID-19 pandemic, students certainly have health challenges now more than ever. I look forward to working with our Graduate School to establish initiatives to address these food insecurity issues on campus.”
After graduation, Lee plans to continue learning and researching as a post-doctoral fellow better to understand global nutrition and public health nutrition issues. One day she hopes to give back to society by using her research experience to affect policy changes in her home country of Korea and more to combat malnutrition.
“I will always cherish the people who have helped me grow academically and personally. I am honored and look forward to giving back to our Red Raider home as a Graduate Ambassador.”