Since her disappearance in early April, it’s been difficult—if not impossible—for me to find the right words to say about Jiwon Lee. I’m afraid to admit that anything I can say would fall short of who she truly was. Jiwon had an innate ability to light up a room. Her personality was magnetic, welcoming, and dynamic. Jiwon spoke to others like they were the only person that mattered, and if her kindness weren’t enough, her quick wit and biting sense of humor never failed to bring a smile to everyone’s face. More than anything, Jiwon would have been embarrassed by all the things that should, and cannot, be put into words.
I met Jiwon at Annual Session 2012, in Minneapolis, MN, during her campaign for ASDA’s Speaker of the House. In our caucus meeting, I fumbled through an incorrectly worded question on increasing the number of resolutions submitted to the House of Delegates. Jiwon clarified, answered, and was able to spin the question to echo her campaign and show off her greatest talents. I’ll never forget how impressed I was in those few short seconds, and after the caucus, how she quickly befriended me.
In early 2013, Jiwon called me. I picked up the phone to hear her say, “Hi, Jeremy! This is Jiwon Lee. Do you remember me?” We caught up for a few minutes before she explained that she was running for ASDA’s Executive Committee, and that she was asking me to nominate her as a candidate on the House floor. Fast forward a few months to Annual Session—the short nomination speech I wrote will remain forever true.
“I nominate Jiwon Lee for Executive Committee. Jiwon’s commitment to ASDA at the chapter, district, and national levels express both her passion for and dedication to the interest of students. Among all of qualifications that I believe make Jiwon a wonderful leader and friend, is her ability to effectively communicate. Her background in journalism and experience as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx have proven valuable in her role on the Board of Trustees and as Speaker of the House. Likewise, Jiwon’s attention to detail and compassion, are matched only by her ability to see the potential in others and encouragement of new leaders. For all of these reasons, and many more, I nominate Jiwon Lee for Executive Committee.”
Looking back, I’ll never forget the short conversation Jiwon and I had that January evening. Jiwon was one of the most genuine and encouraging people I’ve ever known. She wasn’t shy about pointing out potential, and always made it a point to commend other leaders. She pushed me to achieve my own goals. Her leadership was as special as the friendship we shared. As we mourn the loss of her life, I’m certain that the impact she had on others will never be forgotten, and that her life should be celebrated by pursuing our goals, encouraging others, and always remembering to laugh.
– Jeremy Jordan D2015
Jiwon was truly an exceptional individual. She always radiated positive energy to those around her. I loved just being around her. Jiwon was selfless she always offered to help and serve others as much as she could never expecting anything back. She was a talented fun and instrumental leader that took care of our ASDA family. Jiwon we really will miss you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family always.