Since she was three, Katybeth Lee, an assistant director in the Career Development Center, wanted to be a doctor. During her first year of college, she was on track in the pre-med program and was studying her way through organic chemistry.
“I wanted to be a doctor forever, but I soon realized that what I really wanted to do was help people, and maybe medicine wasn’t the best way to do that,” she said. “I found myself in this huge crisis as I tried to register for my second-year classes.”
Realizing her longtime goal was no longer in line with what she wanted in life, Lee took her parents’ advice and registered for a broad range of courses. She found her calling studying people—why they act in certain ways across a spectrum of times, places and cultures.
“It wasn’t until late in my junior year that my mentor asked if I’d considered student affairs, and I had no idea what that was,” said Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in religion from the College of William and Mary. “He explained that it’s a profession dedicated to serving students outside the classroom on college campuses, and that was right up my alley.”
With plans to attend The Ohio State University for a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs, Lee first set out to travel the world. Taking a friend’s suggestion, she spent eight months living abroad performing service work in six different countries.
“I actually applied for graduate programs my senior year of college and was accepted by the end of the first semester,” Lee said. “But I realized that even though I loved people, and I was pursing a graduate degree to help others, I really didn’t know what life was like for the majority of people outside of my setting.”
Using these rich experiences as a guide, Lee lends a unique perspective when advising students and alumni about career goals and life choices. She also specifically works to reach out to first- and second-year students.
Lee encourages students to take the time to dig into their interests, skills and values and seek ways to connect with related opportunities in college. She helps students see that each choice they make—academic and extracurricular—has the potential to impact their futures.
“Because of my own experience, I have great empathy for students going through that process,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to work with students who are asking questions and taking risks to try different options. I love when they find a connection and are able to contribute in a meaningful way—that is success for me.”
In addition to her efforts advising students through the CDC, Lee serves as an academic advisor for the University, earning the 2008-2009 Advisor Excellence Award from the Academic Advising Resource Center.