uAspire First One – Victor Lee

By: Chris Loney | Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finances are the #1 barrier that keeps high-potential students across our country from continuing their education and earning a degree. As part of the uAspire First One Awards, uAspire will be featuring stories of individuals who are first-generation college graduates. Despite many challenges – often because of the high costs of college – they persevered and earned their college degree. Their stories show why it’s so important that education remains an affordable option to all, and how uAspire is committed to this effort.

The following story is about Victor Lee, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Hasbro.

Graduating from Boston College was the hardest thing Victor Lee has ever had to do. But the education he received goes far beyond the communications degree he earned – it taught Victor how the experience of completing college has changed his life.

As a child, Victor saw college as an ivory tower where everyone wanted to be – a place where he could be smart enough to get to, but not rich enough to stay. His parents – immigrants from China – were far removed from college. Victor’s father did not graduate from high school, and his mother had less than a middle-school education. Both worked very hard, every day, in restaurants and sweatshops to make ends meet.

At age 13, Victor would never have seen himself as a college graduate. He may not have seen himself living far into adulthood. Watching some of his friends get arrested, knowing some were killed, Victor wasn’t on the fast track to college.

But this is what drove Victor to work hard. He knew he was here with a sole purpose to graduate, get an education, and earn a degree. His parents sacrificed too much and worked too hard for him to fail. Victor also followed the example set by his older sister, who was also navigating her way through college. Getting into BC was a big accomplishment for Victor.

Getting through BC, however, was a challenge. BC was a culture shock. Many students had their parents visit the campus, move new furniture into the dorms, and pay for tuition. Victor didn’t see his parents at BC – a day off work meant the rent wouldn’t get paid. Victor was on academic probation. He was told bluntly: “You’re going to be thrown out of college.”

Victor was facing the toughest challenge of his life. But seeing his parents’ struggle pushed Victor through. When given the choice of writing a paper versus going out on the weekend, Victor knew that the choice to work hard would take him to where he needed to go. He had no right to complain – just the responsibility to sacrifice and make the right choice. Victor’s degree was a validation of his ability to get through, and learning what it takes to succeed.

Victor’s graduation day was a surreal and exhilarating experience. And it was a day he shared with his parents. They took the day off – they knew he was going to be OK.

Education:

BA, Communications, Boston College (1996)


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