By Rosemary Leonetti.
As she passes from the halls of Lynbrook High School and on to the next chapter of her life, Class of 2013 valedictorian SoEun Lee would like to be remembered not only for doing well in school, but also for her dedication, kindness, friendship and humility.
In the field of academics, SoEun has distinguished herself as an AP Scholar with Honor, a Korean Times Scholar and a Questbridge National College Match Finalist. She has been an active participant in Mathletes, Science Olympiad, the National Honor Society and the Leadership/Key Club. The managing editor of the Lynbrook High School newspaper Horizon, SoEun has won awards for her writing at two major high school press competitions.
As captain of the varsity badminton team, the three-time All-Conference player led the Lady Owls to the 2013 conference championship.
But anyone who knows SoEun will tell you that she is more than simply the sum of her accomplishments. Rather than just accumulate honors to build a resume, SoEun used her skills and knowledge to help others at the Hodori Summer School in Flushing, teaching science, English and badminton to low-income students.
It was from this experience that she also grew into an activist. She joined the Speak Out Project team, a team that is part of the Korean American Family Service Center that houses the Hodori Summer Program. In an effort to raise $2,000 for the school, she also became a student activist against domestic violence, going door-to-door with the Speak Out Project team to raise awareness about domestic violence.
“My myriad experiences in community service activities have opened my eyes to the true value of giving without expecting anything in return,” said SoEun. “It made me realize just how much we take things for granted.”
SoEun says that the most important thing she learned at Lynbrook High School is that independence and a consistent work ethic are the keys to achieving anything. She credits her parents as being the most influential people in her life.
“They have always supported and guided me along the way,” she explained. “They taught me to reach beyond my limitations and never to settle for plan B.”
SoEun a full presidential scholarship to St. John’s University, as a member of the Honors College. With the hopes of pursuing a medical degree, she plans to major in biology and pre-med.
In her parting words to underclassmen at Lynbrook High School, SoEun advised them to be prudent about where they apply to college. “The name of the school is not as important as the opportunities that a more fitting college will give you.”
When asked if she would do anything differently if she had it to do over, SoEun wisely replied, “Every mistake and accomplishment serves a purpose, so when I leave here, I will take everything with me as a lesson learned.”