Student Spotlights

Student Spotlight

Valedictorian Russell Lee Encourages Peers to Seek Understanding


The last three years for Math major Russell Lee were carefully calculated.

Each class he would take and when to take them were scheduled in such precise order, he was able to graduate an entire year early.

How many credits he’d need, how many summer sessions he’d attend—even his daily life was organized to a point of near perfection where he could wake up and repeat it nearly every day.

What Lee did not calculate for, though, ended up being the most memorable and significant part of his undergraduate career.

University of GuamMath major Russell Lee delivers his valedictorian speech at the Fañomnåkan (Spring) 2017 Commencement ceremonies. Being one of seven math graduates for the Fañomnåkan (Spring) 2017 semester, Lee said that his group of peers became very tight knit.

“I came in not really knowing anyone,” Lee said. “Now, I’ve made some great friends, and since we’re a really small group, all of us are like really close.”

Despite its size, having a support system of friends who understood the difficulty of being a Math major made those late nights turned early mornings less stressful and fun at times.

“Staying up late to help each other with homework really made a difference,” Lee said. “Everyone was just really supportive of each other and, that was good.”

But friends weren’t the only people that helped Lee enjoy his undergraduate years.

Knowing that Associate Professor of Mathematics Dr. Henry Taijeron was dedicated to helping his students understand made taking even the hardest Analysis class a little less intimidating.

“He supports everyone,” Lee said. “He’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in my life. He wants everyone to succeed. He’ll go out of his way and stay past office hours just to help us.”

Seek to Understand

When Lee took the stage on May 21 to give his Valedictorian speech, he noted that understanding and organizing everything leaves no room for growth.

“If you understood everything about everything there would be no need for classes, no reason for universities, and no reason for commencement,” he said.

What matters most, he stressed, was the will to learn and to persist against all odds.

“It’s not about understanding everything,” he said. “It’s the drive to seek understanding that should move every person in this room. Just keep learning. Just keep moving forward. That’s how life works.”