Senior who promoted diversity and inclusion: Ruby Lee

Jess Kaplan, Print Managing Co-Editor

Leadership may be hard to define, but it is easy to identify. In a year marked by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, racial upheaval and the most consequential presidential election in modern history, Ruby Lee ’21 has certainly defined herself as a campus leader focused on promoting diversity and inclusion.

“At Bucknell, I feel very lucky that there are so many different positions on campus and opportunities for growth,” Lee, a managing for sustainability major, said. This philosophy has emboldened Lee to become one of the most involved students in all of campus. In her four years at the University, Lee has held positions as Undergraduate Executive Intern with the Office of Sponsored Projects, Events Manager & Assistant at Seventh Street Studio & Maker Space, Student Development Officer for the Student Calling Program, Lewisburg Garden Community volunteer, Summer Admissions Ambassador and was Head Reunion Ambassador. She was a founding member and leader for Asian Pacific Islander Desi Association (APIDA) Student Association and the Bison Business Alliance, led a Habitat for Humanity trip and studied abroad in Pune, India, where she worked with a non-profit microfinancing organization that worked to finance the Pune slums. As a senior, she is an Undergraduate Executive Intern with the Office of the Provost, Lead Residential Adviser for Bucknell West and the Affinity houses and a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) mentor.

But amidst the myriad of clubs, Lee says that founding and building APIDA was the most fundamental to her development as a leader. “There was a need for an Asian American student club on this campus. Asian Americans tend to be a fragmented population,” Lee said. Though Lee initially faced challenges in retaining members, she credits the experience to teaching her about expectations, working with peers and logistical skills.

Lee also attributes much of her success to the University’s interdisciplinary curriculum. “Being able to take classes outside of the College of Management and really integrating what I learned in my management courses into liberal arts courses and vice versa. I’ve taken education, politics and environmental courses and brought it back to my management for sustainability classes. It’s given me a holistic worldview,” she said. 

Lee encourages students to use the University’s academic and social resources to create spaces for all voices to be heard. “Diversity means the most when it is combined with inclusion. You can have a lot of different types of people in the room but if they don’t feel like they are included in the conversation — that they can speak and be heard — there’s no point,” Lee said. 

Lee emphasized that though the University has made significant strides in improving diversity and inclusion, there is still much to be improved. “There needs to be more initiative and more people who are invested in the work to be done,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that we are able to get this much buy-in from the community, but it needs to continue. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a big pay-off.”

Next year, the Los Angeles native will be moving to Washington, D.C. to begin work as a Government and Public Service Consultant at Deloitte. Lee is very grateful for her family, friends and the University community for helping her achieve so much. 

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