Student Profile

Margaret Lee
Margaret Lee ’17
San Diego, CA

Recipient of the Mary Smith Fairbanks Odyssey Scholarship

What did you do this past summer?
This summer I spent six weeks in China for the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellowship program. This was my first time visiting China, and it was very exciting and interesting to travel through China from Beijing to Hangzhou and finally to Shanghai. We toured Beijing for a week, then spent three weeks at Wanxiang Polytechnic University learning about green technology and Chinese language and culture. During the last two weeks, we toured Wanxiang’s battery and nuclear energy manufacturing plants and spoke to their engineers. This more hands-on portion of the summer program was especially interesting and educational and was my favorite part of the trip. In September I went to Finland for a UCIEP (UChicago Careers in Educational Professions) trek. It was my first trip to Europe, and as part of the trek, we visited various educational institutions in Helsinki, including the University of Helsinki, primary schools, and the US Embassy. It was fascinating to see what many consider to be one of the world’s best education systems in action, and to compare that to US and Taiwanese education models.

Please comment on the pursuit of your major and minor, as well as any other academic interests.
I am majoring in chemistry and minoring in molecular engineering. I hope to complete the MS/BS joint degree program in chemistry, so I’m planning to finish the BS in three years and then take graduate courses during my fourth year. I just joined Professor Weizmann’s research group on campus and am excited to take the new materials science course being offered by the Institute of Molecular Engineering during winter quarter. In the future, I hope to work on automotive materials research.

Please tell us about a significant or memorable experience you have had during your time at UChicago.
When I came to UChicago, I told myself that I had to participate in Kuvia and Scav at least once in my 4 years here. This year I ended up taking part in Kuvia, so during the second week of winter quarter I woke up at 5 in the morning for 5 days in a row (I live in Blackstone, which is almost a mile from Henry Crown, where Kuvia takes place) to do sun salutations and try out different sports at 6 a.m. It was dark, freezing, and absolutely fantastic, especially watching the sun rise over the lake on Friday.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? Are there any that are new from last year?
In November, I was very excited to join the Weizmann Group, and I work on a project involving the synthesis and self-assembly of gold nanoparticles. I am the vice president of Aikido Kokikai, a Japanese martial arts sports organization that I joined last year. I am also a member of Benzene, the chemistry organization at UChicago, and TSA, UChicago’s Taiwanese Student Association. I work for Alumni Relations and Development as an intern for the Annual Giving department, assisting with putting together campaigns and analyzing data. I also work for UCISTEM in Career Advancement, managing the emails that are sent out through the UCISTEM listhost and creating materials to promote STEM events. On the weekends, I tutor math in Hyde Park.

As a scholarship recipient, to what extent are you grateful for the support you received? What are your thoughts on how you might one day give back to the University of Chicago?
Thank you very, very much for your scholarship support. Without it, I would never have been able to attend UChicago, nor would I have been able to take advantage of all of the opportunities offered to students here. I work 10-14 hours a week as a part of work study (which is a great learning experience) but having a scholarship means that I don’t have to worry if I miss a few hours for midterms or other school events. UChicago offers career treks across the country and internationally, and without the travel financial aid offered, I wouldn’t be able to participate in these fantastic opportunities. Over the summer, my mom had to have liver and gallbladder surgery to remove a tumor, and full recovery is expected to take a year. My scholarship made it possible to not worry about the tuition for this year. Thank you again for the my scholarship. I hope to one day be able to give back to future generations of UChicago students as well.

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