Alumnus Steven Lee awarded prestigious Fulbright Scholarship: Recent grad conducts stem cell resesarch in Seoul, South Korea
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Steven Lee, 2013 alum and Fulbright Scholar, was a psychology major on the Pre-Medicine track who wasnn’t sure what he wanted to do immediately after graduating.
“I knew that I wanted to go work and study in a foreign country for a year before I went to medical school,” said Lee.
Lee is originally from Southern California, and when he decided to attend Westmont, he knew he wanted to make the most of his college experience.
He started doing research outside of Westmont with the University of Southern California and with Harvard, taking advantage of the resources he had around him.
After graduating, Lee applied for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program while also studying for the MCAT. He filled out a formal application, went through interviews, and spent months waiting to hear back. The entire process took about a year.
Lee was awarded the grant and is now studying in Seoul, Korea at the Seoul National University.
One major obstacle Lee said he has to overcome is learning and developing his Korean scientific terminology at an advanced level, as he studies in a lab with highly esteemed biologists and doctors.
According to the Fulbright Scholarship Website, they provide grant money based on each applicant’s proposal for a potential project and a foreign country the applicant would conduct his or her research and work in.
The student will have a mentor overseeing him or her while abroad, and the student will learn about the culture around him or her as well.
“The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think,” says the Fulbright website.
Lee described the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as “foreign exchange on a governmental level.” He was able to pick the country he wanted to go to, and he was given enough money by the government to do ten months of research funding in biology.
Lee is conducting stem cell research, using human umbilical cord cells for research and regeneration. The cells taken can aid a child later on in life who is particularly susceptible to suffering from birth defects or diseases that are detected early on. At this stage in stem cell research, adults are the only candidates who are approved to participate in clinical trials.
When asked about what type of advice he would give back to Westmont students at any point in their education, Lee said “Explore everything and explore what you may be interested in because it might be worth it.”
Photo Courtesy of Steven Lee