At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous fields experienced a rapid shift to virtual operations. For the health care sector, that shift resulted in difficulty accessing routine care from health care professionals, particularly for senior citizens and low-income citizens who may not have devices to easily tap into the resources of telehealth.
Alice Lee, a second-year pre-medical student majoring in cognitive science, realized that the pandemic was causing individuals to face health care challenges like this, as well as lost insurance. She wanted to be part of the solution, so she began volunteering for TeleHealth Access for Seniors, a nonprofit organization launched in March by Yale University students.
Lee’s volunteer work has centered in North Carolina, helping in the state’s efforts to raise $1,000 in donations. As a whole, the organization has raised $120,000, accepted 2,500 device donations, partnered with 105 clinics, gathered 375 volunteers and involved 26 states as of September.
The volunteer opportunity seemed ideal for Lee, who enjoys giving back to the community.
“Aside from the clinical experiences I work at through school, I also wanted to venture out and [experience interacting more with members of the community],” she said.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors is just one of Lee’s efforts to gain more insight into the medical field.
Throughout the pandemic, she has continued her volunteer efforts with the hospice center, albeit virtually. Over the summer, she sent cards, letters and videos of herself singing and playing guitar to cheer up residents.
More recently, she also joined Student for Refugees and hopes to begin tutoring middle school students.
Lee’s interest in the medical field as a whole is rooted in her desire to help others.
“I believe being part of the medical field and helping out is uplifting humanity, and personally, for me, there’s no greater gift than healing other persons, saving their lives,” Lee said.
Lee’s extracurricular involvements extend to the Case Western Reserve University campus, where she is involved in research and student organizations. She’s a member of the Zeta Epsilon of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and involved with the Korean American Student Alliance and Asian American Alliance. Her research is in the lab of Robert Salomon, the Charles Frederic Mabery Professor of Research in Chemistry, and Mikhail D. Linetsky, a research professor in the chemistry department, examining the effect of lipid oxidation on degenerative diseases.
Learn more about the TeleHealth Access for Seniors, but first, see how Lee answered our five questions.
1. What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. The book explains the nature of inner and universal energy and how to untie yourself from unnecessary thoughts to live life in freedom. It is a great book for people who tend to overthink and analyze situations.
2. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I wanted to become a singer. My mom is very talented in singing, so listening to her leisurely sing made me want to follow her steps. I also wanted to become a doctor from watching medical shows, which compelled me to think they were very inspiring.
3. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
If I had a superpower, I would want to be able to control time. It would be very eye-opening to time travel to the past in history and also be able to pause time to enjoy certain moments.
4. Who has had the greatest influence on you?
I know this is a classic answer, but my parents had the greatest influence on me. My dad came from a tough background in Korea where he had no savings from his parents to be able to attend college. Since he was the youngest sibling, he paid his way through college by self-studying the material ahead of time to tutor young adults and even college students to earn money. He became a successful engineer through hard work and effort. While my dad is very logical, my mom is a very emotional, heartwarming person who truly cares for people. Even during the tough times, I always admired her ability to see the positive in every situation and believing there are always blessings that result from them. It is amazing to see their dynamic and I hope to be as successful and loving as they are.
5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
My favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University is the different career and community opportunities it [offers]. As a pre-medicine student, I have been able to engage myself in organizations that help to link students with the same ambition, ethnicity and values. I understand there is no perfect college, but I have been able to mold myself into the CWRU community by connecting with other students and professors.