Hana Lee, '21. (Photo courtesy of Lee)

Class of 2021: Hana Lee strays outside the norm by attending university abroad

At 8 years old, Hana Lee, ’21, enjoyed cheering from the sidelines with Jesuit Junior Marauders Cheer, but she yearned to be out on the field. 

“For me, it’s always been about striving to do what I love,” Hana said. “Obviously, you can’t do everything in life, but my mindset has always been to try to do as much as I can.”

And that she has. 

In her 18 years, Hana has dabbled in upwards of six sports. From horseback riding to volleyball, she has tried it all. Thus, when it came time to decide on a college, Hana knew that the potential for new experiences would weigh into the decision.

“I knew going into college that I didn’t want to limit myself with a ‘safe experience.’ I wanted something that would be unfamiliar but exciting,” she said. 

Hana’s mother, Sarah Lee, commended her daughter for this mindset. 

“Of my four children, I think Hana is the one that thinks most outside the  box. Even from a young age, she pushed boundaries, never limiting herself to what others around her were doing,” Sarah said. 

In fact, Hana credits her rank as the youngest with her ability to pursue her desires.

“I was granted a lot of freedom growing up, so I’ve always been going  off on my own, discovering what’s out there,” she said. “Even just as a little kid in Target, I remember wandering through the aisles, hoping to find something I liked.”

As a result, Hana’s decision to attend Maynooth University in Ireland, was not surprising.

“None of her siblings attended school internationally, but for her, mentally, that was an option,” Sarah said.

Hana plans to major in media studies with minors in both radio and TV production.

“It’s on my bucket list to produce a movie or documentary on the Detroit Red Wings,” Hana said. “Anyone who knows me knows I love hockey, and the Red Wings are my all time favorite sports team.”

Hana’s inspiration comes from not only her love of the Red Wings, but also her love for feel-good, underdog sports movies. 

“I think, Miracle, may be Hana’s favorite movie of all time,” Sarah said. “She begs us to watch it with her, and everytime, without fail, she gets emotional at the same scenes.”

For Hana, a film about the Red Wings is an opportunity to provide others with that same experience.

“All of these movies leave me really emotional, and I would love to do that for someone else,” she said. “Obviously, it won’t leave everyone with the same reaction, but even just knowing I could brighten one person’s day is great. If I can’t cure cancer, then this is a nice alternative.”

Sarah has no doubt in her daughter’s capabilities.

“Hana has no qualms about telling us if something isn’t working out,” she said. “That is one thing about Hana. She is not only an advocate for others, but also herself.”

Sarah recalled a time when Hana was just 18 months old. 

“I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing Hana seated on the kitchen floor,” she said. “I was shocked to see her instructing each of her three older siblings as they prepared her breakfast. They all had their own task, and Hana was supervising. At that point, I knew she would be alright in life”

Likewise, history teacher Liz Leavy describes Hana as a “direct, clever, and hilarious” student.

“I wish I could take credit for raising this hugely independent person, but I don’t think I can,” Sarah said. “Hana was just born that way.”

As Hana moves forward, she intends to take life one step at a time.

“It’s all about finding what brings you joy,” she said. “If pursuing happiness means defying norms, then I will continue to do just that.”

— By Simone DeBerry

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