By ERIN MATUCZINSKI
Numerous leadership positions and successful university-wide reforms later, junior Alexander Lee has earned a name for himself in the UMW community.
The Virginia native grew up in Woodbridge, where he and his family would geocache on weekends. With a passion for learning and a talent for teaching, Lee would join his mother at her job in the parks department and educate other families on the activity. The outdoorsman was a Boy Scout, as well as the reigning chess player champion in Prince William County for seven years. In high school, Lee focused on academics and extracurriculars, like the debate team.
If you know him now, you’d be shocked to find that Lee never pursued student government until UMW, where he took a leap of faith and ran for a position on the Student Conduct Review Board the fall semester of his freshman year. Lee was also chosen to represent the Russell and Marshall residence halls on Community Council. The following spring he joined the Student Government Association (SGA) and sat as the Academic Affairs Chair. He currently holds the Student Life Chair.
Even though Lee has no plans to pursue public office outside of the university, he currently spends a chunk of his time advocating for other students to be involved in politics as well. He aided SGA in pushing UMW to approve “Day of Democracy.” The policy, which will be implemented for the first time next school year, cancels classes on election day in November so students can hit the polls as voters, student poll workers or volunteers.
“We are actually the first public school in the country to voluntarily cancel classes every year for election day, we made it a school holiday and that’s completely unique,” said Lee.
But what Lee is most proud of during his time at UMW isn’t related to politics, but campus wellness and safety. He created his own themed housing group, Eagle Wellness Housing, which is a substance-free community currently located on the fifth floor of Bushnell Hall. Additionally, with the help of Ray Tuttle, Lee worked to create the medical amnesty policy now known as the “Safe Sammy Policy”, where students who are overly intoxicated can seek help by themselves or by their peers will not be charged with a conduct violation. He has recommended it to the Virginia Higher Education Substance Use Advisory Committee. He is thankful that his time in student government has allowed him to explore drug policy, as he says he is very passionate about reducing the harm caused by drug and alcohol addiction.
“Both Eagle Wellness Housing and the Safe Sammy Policy mean so much to me,” said Lee. “I think they really do have a big, positive effect.”
Despite his extensive experience during his college career, Lee never truly knew where he wanted to go in life until recently. He considers it one of his greatest hardships. He finally settled on a double major in political science and psychology after bouncing between different career choices and areas of study.
Lee attributes a part of his collegiate success in both academics and leadership to his family.
“My parents were always supportive,” he said. “They’ve always pushed me to do more than required to do and I think that’s where I get it from.” Lee especially admires his father’s family that immigrated from China to America after World War II. His grandfather was a part of the Flying Tigers, the American-Chinese air force against Imperial Japan, and his dad served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years.
“That side of the family was definitely an inspiration,” Lee said. “They always believe really strongly like, go and make things happen.” While he still doesn’t know exactly what profession he wants to pursue, Lee is looking to follow in his parents’ footsteps and attend graduate school.