Saipan Southern High School alumnae Iris Lee is curious, hungry for understanding, and with a heart to help others—factors that are fueling this 18-year old freshman’s passion to pursue a career in medicine at Emory University, while continuing to understand the things around her so that she will be able to contribute more and eventually improve the health of many.
“Since I am planning to major in Biology on the pre-medical track, I’m currently enrolled in biology and chemistry laboratory classes, which are medical school prerequisites. Although I am still on Saipan, our online classes started in mid- August,” Lee said.
“For my freshmen seminar, I decided to take the one about natural disasters. My experience with super typhoons Soudelor and Yutu was a great influence as I wanted to explore not only typhoons but also the different natural disasters that are taking away too many lives these days,” Lee added.
Lee is not new to the field of academic excellence. Aside from getting accepted into Emory University, which requires a 3.2 GPA, she already achieved many achievements at a young age that includes the Governor’s Leadership Award, Japanese Culture & Language Top Senior, Mathematics Senior 1st Overall, English Language Arts Senior 1st Overall, Service Learning Award, Academic Excellence Award, STEM Fair High School Research Category 1st Place.
In order to achieve these accomplishments, Lee gives credit to her counselor, Hazel Tudela, who worked with her throughout her high school years. “She always helped and gave me the best advice for opportunities that I can maximize,” Lee said.
She also gives thanks to her teachers at Saipan Southern High School whom she describes as always supportive and available every time she had concerns—Paul Miura, Dr. Dora Miura, Karen Camacho, Aniciete Guiao, Arisa Sakai Sensei, Donovan Tudela, and many more teachers, along with SSHS principal Vince Dela Cruz. “They helped me expand my vision in many ways…and I will never forget how much they mean in my life. …They gave me opportunities to challenge myself…which led to great results. …I tried to take all the classes that I was interested in and put in all my effort,” she said.
Lee is a full scholar at Emory University and she said she did not find it difficult to choose this school. “The biggest attractions that drew me to Emory University are that they highlight diversity, equity and inclusion. …Furthermore, the student-to-faculty ratio was one of the major reasons and this is similar with my experience in Saipan Southern High School where I had the chance to get close to so many teachers and I loved how the teachers would remember the students’ names. …I hope to build a friendly relationship with the professors and advisors at Emory as well,” she said.
After college, Lee plans to go to medical school and become a physician. “I am not sure about what specialty yet, but one thing that I really want to do and has been my goal ever since is to help others. I want to be a doctor and volunteer in different places of the world to help those in need, especially on Saipan where medical expenses can be expensive for some people to afford. I hope to come back to the island and volunteer for the community,” she added.
Her greatest inspiration is her family, saying she wants to make them proud and happy. “My parents have always supported me and…they would tell me that salary is not what determines my success but how happy I am with what I am doing,” she said.