PRZOOM - /newswire/ -
Redmond, WA, United States, 2013/11/20 - Avidian Technologies awards its first scholarship to undocumented student, Jae Jun “Brian” Lee. Wong, co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, said, “We were deeply impressed and inspired by Brian’s tenacity in pursuing his education” - Avidian.com.
Jae Jun (Brian) Lee is the first recipient of Avidian Technologies' Business and Technology Scholarship for Continuing Education. Although the scholarship is small--$1,000--it is significant to Lee because it will be the first private scholarship he has been able to receive in his long, arduous journey to finish his college education.
Lee came to the US as an undocumented immigrant with his single mother when he was four years old. They lived in LA together until 2006, when his mother, suffering from schizophrenia, went back to Korea, leaving her 18-year-old son alone.
“My instinct was never to give up on education. I just didn’t see that as an option,” said Lee.
James Wong, co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, said,“We were deeply impressed and inspired by Brian’s tenacity in pursuing his education.”
Although Lee had been accepted into University of California, Santa Diego (UCSD) in 2006, he had no money to go to school. As an undocumented immigrant, he could not apply for financial aid. He enrolled himself in community college and started working at a print shop, getting paid under the table. "My boss was a nice, kind, older man and he understood my situation. I was paid decently--$13/hr," said Lee. "It wasn't just a minimum wage job. I realized how good he had been to me."
Three years later, he was accepted into UCLA. But because UCLA’s tuition was significantly higher than community college, Lee had to drop out after attending two quarters to go work full time to save enough money. Lee started working at a CPA office in Koreatown to save up for school. He also worked at the reception desk at UCLA dental clinic, at the bookkeeper's office, tutored at night, and another shift as a liquor store clerk.
Lee took a break for another two quarters until he saved up enough money to go back to school. He never gave up on his dream of education, even when he had to quit and start again.
When the California DREAM Act passed in 2011, Lee finally was eligible for financial aid. He said he has applied to hundreds of scholarships--Avidian's scholarship will be the first he has been awarded. The Avidian Technologies scholarship (avidian.com) is based on a student studying business or technology who demonstrates a compelling need for the funding. Wong said Avidian established the scholarship this year because the company values education. The next deadline for the scholarship is November 15.
Lee plans on graduating from UCLA in 2014, nearly eight years after he graduated from high school.