A Servant Heart
By Justin Walker
Jinhaeng Lee, Graduate Student MBA/MSIS
Jinhaeng Lee is no stranger to helping others. In fact, Lee feels it is his responsibility to give his time and energy to those in need. Lee was born in South Korea, but moved to England at the age of 4 while his parents trained to become missionaries. Two years later, the family moved to Madagascar, where his father, a general surgeon, did medical missions and his mother worked with the children’s ministries.
Starting in the fifth grade, Lee attended Rift Valley Academy (RVA), a boarding school in Kenya. He participated in several activities there, including rugby, playing instruments and volunteering. The latter activity is something Lee remembers fondly.
“I remember a donation I collected for a local pastor who was ministering and helping children in the internally displaced persons camps,” Lee said. “We collected 20 cents from RVA students for a few weeks to provide food and clothing or school supplies for the students in those camps.”
During high school, Lee attended a college fair at RVA where he met with Baylor admissions counselors. He soon discovered a few missionary families at RVA were Baylor alums. They invited Lee to their homes to discuss their collegiate experiences and Lee knew Baylor would be a great fit for him.
Lee enrolled at Baylor in the fall of 2017 to study social work. After the first semester, though, he realized he wanted to help people in a more practical manner. He recognized that he did not have the same gifts as his father did to be a doctor on a medical mission trip, but he still had a desire to help people.
“I noticed that a lot of the sicknesses on mission trips occurred because the communities did not have clean water,” Lee said. “Also, the lack of electricity and communication stopped certain people from getting the medical treatment they needed.”
Shifting away from social work, Lee met with professors from the School of Engineering and Computer Science. He was interested in studying sustainable and renewable energy and how to utilize it in developing countries.
Lee transitioned his major to Electrical and Computer Engineering and learned what it meant to problem solve and to think holistically. He also joined a student organization, Engineers with a Mission (EM), which prepares students to serve people in developing countries with their technical skills.
As his undergraduate career advanced, Lee began taking courses outside engineering to further develop his skill set. As one of his electives, he registered for a Technology Entrepreneurship course with Bradley Norris.
“He showed me how technology and business can be bridged together and how there is so much value in technology,” Lee said. “Learning how something goes from the lab to market intrigued me. That is where my interest in business began.”
The course led Lee to evaluate graduate programs, specifically Baylor’s combined MBA/MSIS program. He soon decided to apply for the program and was accepted to begin in the fall of 2021.
While attending the orientation for his graduate program over the summer, he received a text message from a former EM officer. Carver Middle School in Waco had caught on fire. There was a call for donations of items such as shorts, t-shirts or shoes, all for students who may not have the right attire to attend school.
“I thought, ‘I have friends here that are currently moving in and out. I am sure they have some clothes they could donate,'” Lee said.
Lee worked with Scot Sanders, Laurie Wilson and Lara Vaughan from the MBA program to set up donation bins in areas where graduate students frequented. They were able to raise a good amount of clothing to donate to Carver.
For Lee, organizing this donation drive was not just an opportunity to serve, it was his responsibility.
“My faith is a strong part of what I do, and the reason that I live is for God’s glory,” he said. “It is only by His grace that I am saved and I have personally received so many blessings from Him. Whenever there is an opportunity to serve and to help, I think it is my duty as a Christian to do so.”
Lee is still figuring out what career he wants to pursue after graduation, but he would like to eventually return to Madagascar or other developing countries to help introduce holistic energy systems into their infrastructure.
But whatever it ends up being, he just wants to serve other people.
“I am so grateful for a school like Baylor where we come together to serve not only the people within Baylor, but also the community around us,” Lee said. “And not only the community, but the entire world.”