Media contact: Savannah Koplon
Angela Lee is a busy person. Graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in spring 2022 with a double major in chemistry and mathematics, Lee has made the most of her experience at UAB. Lee serves as the Undergraduate Student Government Association president, is a member of the Science and Technology Honors Program, represented the university as Ms. UAB 2021, and still has time to apply for several competitive fellowships and scholarships prior to her graduation.
According to Lee, these accomplishments were not components of a grand plan she drafted in high school — instead, she learned to appreciate spontaneity and embrace new opportunities after arriving on UAB’s campus.
“My journey has truly been rooted in discovery and self-exploration,” Lee explained.
South Alabama to UAB
For Lee, the journey to UAB begins with one word — community. Her parents immigrated to Dothan, Alabama, from Taiwan. Throughout her childhood, she constantly sought friends and peers with whom she could relate. When she visited UAB, she saw a campus where she could connect with students from across the world in an urban environment.
“UAB was the only school that I applied to,” Lee said. “UAB is very diverse. It’s great to have a community that surrounds you and helps you grow as a person.”
When Lee came to UAB, she nurtured a deeper understanding of higher education and made important decisions quickly. She notes that, prior to attending UAB, she did not know what it meant to “declare” a major — with this in mind, she took the time to learn from mentors and peers and amend her path accordingly.
“I am a part of the Science and Technology Honors Program,” Lee said. “Luckily, there were people in the program who knew me from high school, so they were able to talk me through my interests. I realized I love chemistry, so I changed my major immediately.”
Soon after, Lee also learned that she could combine majors, so she added her love of mathematics to her journey. Her willingness to embrace her passions and interests as they emerged continued to serve her well throughout her undergraduate career at UAB, eventually leading her to the USGA and the role of Ms. UAB.
In reflection from others on Lee’s contributions to UAB and what’s made her an outstanding student, her mentors and professors agree that her willingness to challenge herself and constantly learn is her separating factor.
“Angela is a truly outstanding young woman. She engages each challenge with a humble confidence, willing to learn from those around her and ready to make a substantial contribution,” said Diane Tucker, Ph.D., professor emerita in the Department of Psychology. “Whether it be intricate biochemistry or representing the student body to the university administration, Angela is focused, creative, and poised, but also ready to learn and grow from each experience. I look forward to seeing the role that Angela plays in shaping our future for the better.”
A future beyond UAB
Through these experiences and her recent applications for numerous fellowships and scholarships, Lee is now exploring career opportunities that will allow her to meld her leadership skills with her love for science and health. Upon graduation, she will be moving to Washington, D.C., to conduct research under Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., former National Institutes of Health director at the NIH.
“I realized my goal of being a physician wasn’t enough. I’ve been thinking about working in a national or international health organization,” Lee said. “I want to understand global health challenges, and I want to redefine health care so that it is more inclusive and diverse.”
As Lee looks back on the past year, she acknowledges that the pandemic prompted her to further reflect on her goals, as well as her experiences at UAB. That reflection uncovered her appreciation for UAB’s recent growth and expansion.
“I witnessed the McMahon Hall construction at the same time University Hall was being built. Protective Stadium has been built, and the Education Building has been torn down. The Honors Hall is new,” she shared. “You see continuous development on campus, and you get to be a part of it. I get to utilize these new facilities. UAB is continuously growing.”
And, clearly, she will continue to be an important part of UAB’s ongoing development and global impact.