By Anna Belson
Jiwon Lee can do it all: She’s the Graduate School President, PRSSA event planner, and plays the National Anthem at occasional Ole Miss home games. She was born in Korea and lived there for ten years, but now calls Oxford home. When how her summer went, Lee said, “this summer was good; I got to go home for the first time in 5 years, and I got to see my parents for the first time in 5 years, so it was super exciting but also nerve racking.”
Recently Lee took time out from an already booked schedule to discuss her involvement with Ole Miss and how her passion for music came about. Her love for music developed from the inspiration of her mom’s profession as a professional opera singer and music studio owner.
Lee grew up surrounded by a musical environment and with the kids from the studio. She started playing piano at the age of four years old.
“My mom got me a flute for a Christmas gift when I was six, and it was love at first sight, as cheesy as that sounds,” Lee said.
Although the flute is special to her, Lee is most well known for playing the violin.
“I wanted to go down a different path from my mom, so I think that’s what led me to pick up the violin,” Lee said. “I have a strong singing voice, but I wanted to do something different, and singing can give me anxiety.”
Lee didn’t think she was going to be a music major at first, but soon realized that that was her strong suit. She has played in the marching band for Ole Miss and performed the National Anthem multiple times at several sporting events.
“My favorite part about performing the National Anthem is hearing people sing along to it. It’s one of the coolest things,” Lee said. “At the Mercer game, a lot of the students sang along, which put a whole other meaning to it. It’s the most important song in the country, so it’s a big honor to represent it for the crowd.”
Lee has had a heavily involved career during her time at Ole Miss. She became the main conductor for the marching band and eventually began performing in the orchestra, Lafayette Oxford University Symphony, and to this day, continues to play there. She was a Hall of Famer in 2018, was in the Masters program, a graduate assistant for the band for three years, and taught classes while she was in graduate school. She also used to help out on game days behind the scenes for the band kids by helping them set up.
Currently, she is the event planner for PRSSA, which she highly recommends to join for any student interested in communications. She is the graduate assistant with University Development, Graduate Student Council President, and President of the Ole Miss Band Alumni.
Recently she decided to change her major.
“As much as I love music, I realized that I have always taken an interest in Integrated Marketing Communications for its versatility, and I always saw my friends in marketing getting involved in the sports department,” Lee said. “This always interested me because of my love for sports. I also felt like something was missing during my music education; I missed having people time. I like to connect with new people and teach and interact with kids, so I got into IMC.”
Lee’s options were limited due to her visa. She was losing sponsorship at the school where she taught due to a lack of funding.
“It felt like a good time to pick up IMC and start a new chapter in my life,” Lee said.
As for the future, Lee graduates in May and plans to stay in Oxford.
“Once I graduate, I’m hoping to get a job fundraising for the Oxford community,” Lee said. “It’s time for me to give back to Ole Miss and help in any way I can.”