May 23, 2013 in Washington Voices

Lee is leaving Prep with goal of service

Student, self-taught musician prepares for Baylor
Joe Everson joseph.everson@yahoo.com
 

Gonzaga Prep senior Keum Lee credits a volunteering experience for helping him decide to live a life of service.
(Full-size photo)

More graduation information

Look up graduates or graduation ceremonies for any Spokane-area high school, read more stories about graduates and see photos of all the valedictorians in the 2013 graduation database.

Gonzaga Preparatory School senior Keum Lee remembers well the moment when he decided to live a life of service.

“Coming into Prep, everyone hears a lot about faith and service. But it really hit home to me when I was volunteering at Holy Family Hospital. An elderly lady came in to visit her husband, but I saw on the computer that he had passed away. I didn’t know what to say or do, but I knew that I wanted to learn, and to help.”

That desire soon evolved into Lee’s involvement in the Knights of the Leash organization at G-Prep, and next fall he will launch his undergraduate academic career at Baylor University, hoping eventually to become an Air Force doctor.

G-Prep counselor Ann Kukuk is effusive in her praise of Lee, who is the first-generation American son of parents born in South Korea.

“From the time he entered here,” she said, “Keum was thirsty about learning everything, not just one thing. His desire to help people permeates everything about him. What makes him unique is that he is so genuinely humble, and there is so much that’s good about him.”

Lee’s accomplishments at G-Prep are not simply impressive – they’re amazing.

He has enrolled in five honors courses and seven Advanced Placement courses. He has participated in string orchestra, jazz band and wind ensemble. Lee plays nine instruments and is self-taught in almost all of them. He has a part-time job playing bass guitar at St. Aloysius, his parish church.

In addition, he’s volunteered as a tutor, served as an elected member of the Senior Class Council, and is completing his Eagle Scout project.

The reason for his interest in serving others is simple, he says: It’s because there are so many people who need help. Enrolling in Baylor’s Air Force ROTC program is a logical next step for him, moving from serving his community to the opportunity to serve his country.

Lee, an only child, deeply respects his parents.

“We have a very strong connection,” he said. “It was such a big thing for them, coming to America. Being here, seeing the schools, they’ve never seen this kind of thing in their life ever.

“I’m really anxious and kind of frightened about leaving Prep. I’ve been with my parents all my life, so this is a big step. I have made a few acquaintances at Baylor, but there’s no one there that I know personally. I chose it from a long list of universities because it offers the best pre-med track for me.”

Kukuk, who has 36 years experience in secondary education, says Lee is one of the nicest young people she’s ever worked with.

“He will be a difference-maker in our society,” she said. “He’ll be that gifted physician with the welcoming manner that will put people at ease from the moment they meet him.”


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email