Lucy Lee takes on more than your average teenager.
At 16, she graduated from high school in Rockville, Maryland, and was accepted to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Now with a full course load at MIT, the 18-year-old sophomore with aspirations to be an Army cyber officer also participates in the school’s ROTC program.
She then carves out time from her busy schedule to compete in Wushu, a Chinese martial art also referred to as kung fu.
Last month, she traveled to Myanmar where she captured two bronze medals in the Taolu World Cup, an elite Wushu competition.
“I had to lose hours of sleep to practice before going,” she said, laughing. “But I think it was well worth it.”
When she was 7, Lee began to practice the sport in the Washington, D.C., area after being impressed by a performance.
Her younger sister, Mia Tian, also joined her and over the years the pair improved on their skills.
The siblings were the only Americans to vie in this year’s Taolu World Cup. Both qualified for it after they finished in the top eight in several categories last year at the World Wushu Championships in Russia.
“It was competing against the best of the best,” Lee said of the World Cup.
The sisters were able to share a podium after they placed third in the duel event, a choreographed fighting set.
“She had a spear and I had two swords,” Lee said. “We performed the fighting set and got bronze, which was really cool.”
Lee’s other bronze medal was in the women’s nanquan event, which translates to “southern fist” and involves arm movements.
She credits the military training she has learned in ROTC for helping her develop a more resilient attitude during competitions.
“You have to face these obstacles that you don’t think you can do, but it turns out you can if you put your mind to it,” she said. “I can draw on what ROTC has taught me and just be more mentally and physically tough, which translates to every aspect of your life.”
Earlier in the semester, Lee volunteered to represent her ROTC unit in the Ranger Challenge, a two-day strenuous military skills competition among cadets.
Her go-getter attitude has impressed Sgt. 1st Class Sean Kirk, her military science instructor, in all the things she takes on.
“This is in addition to her full course work,” he said. “It shows to her own work ethic and what she is doing is kind of icing on the cake.”
Lee, who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, believes her experience at MIT will tie in well to the cyber branch.
“I would like to be able to use this kind of technical abilities in my future job,” she said.
Initially, she gained an interest for cyber after she took an advanced placement computer science course in high school.
“It didn’t feel like work at all,” she said.
She hopes to broaden her interest and skills using the opportunities found at MIT.
“Cyber is definitely emerging as a very important type of warfare that was nonexistent before,” she said. “So, I think it would be really cool to be at the forefront of that.”
No matter where she ends up, Kirk, who is an infantryman, said the Army will benefit.
“One thing about her is that she is obviously very driven,” he said. “She’s going to be a very good officer one day.”
This submission was written by Sean Kimmons, of the Army News Service
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