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A life changed

August 31, 2018

Michael Lee
Michael Lee, Medical Sciences student

Receiving a donor funded award had a profound effect on Michael Lee’s life, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Medical Sciences program.

Lee and his family emigrated from South Korea to Canada in 2007. “My parents had to give up a lot in Korea, their home, their careers, but they did it to give us a better life,” said Lee.

His first year at Western was challenging.

“My family’s finances were not really stable so tuition was a big problem for us,” he said.

To help out, Lee found a job but that added to his challenges.

“In first year, I couldn’t go to all of my classes because I had to work full-time.”

Always a strong student, he managed to get through by spending all of his spare time studying. But he knew that model wasn’t sustainable and there was a whole other side to his Western experience that was being ignored.

“I needed to build networks, build social relationships, join clubs, etc.,” he said.

In second year, Lee received the Bennie and Shirley Bradshaw Award in Science, granted in recognition of academic achievement and demonstrated financial need. And everything changed.

“When I received this award, I felt like Western really had my back. It gave me the motivation to reach higher. It gave me the confidence and stability to pursue extracurricular activities, which are opportunities that one should have as a university student,” he said.

Receiving the award lifted a huge burden from Lee’s shoulders.

“I was able to go to all of my classes. I joined the Science Students’ Council. I found a research position. I was able to interact with professors – a prospect I hadn’t even considered before,” he said.

Lee feels receiving the award even altered his personality somewhat. An introvert by nature, he felt his absence from the daily rhythms of campus exacerbated those tendencies. Becoming more involved in activities forced him to reach out to people.

“I became more transparent and was able to reveal my true self to others. So it really impacted my life,” he said.

With the goal of becoming a physician and working in the public health sector, Lee took his medical college admission test this past summer.

“I want to reach out to the community and join forces with like-minded professionals to really help people,” said Lee.

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