Grace Lee was in her senior year at Madison High School in Portland, Oregon, applying to colleges solely on the West Coast, when her mentor in the College Possible program encouraged her to think beyond the West Coast and introduced her to Saint Ben’s. Following this interaction, Grace participated in the fly-in weekend at St. Ben’s / St. John’s and was enticed by the academic offerings, opportunities for entrepreneurs, and warm reception provided by her student host.
In her first semester at Saint Ben’s, Grace took an intro accounting course and made a profound connection with her professor, Jackie Gabrielson, who solidified Grace’s decision to pursue an accounting major. Grace understood the material and the way Jackie explained it. Furthermore, she liked the small class sizes and how Jackie noticed Grace’s comprehension and would call on her to answer questions.
Grace is now a senior and has taken full advantage of the opportunities at St. Ben’s. She played intramural volleyball, badminton, and tennis before joining varsity tennis, where she is in the starting lineup. She has also been the Treasurer of two clubs: Bennies in Business and HAIS (Hmong Americans Involving Students). Additionally, due to her collaboration skills, Grace was selected by her professors to be a tutor and teaching assistant for the accounting and finance department. Her favorite thing about this position is helping other students.
A big focus for Grace has been E-Scholars, through which Grace and a friend started a boba tea catering business. Boba tea is a drink made of black tea, tapioca pearls, syrup, and milk. Grace describes it as a “sweet treat” and recently had fun catering an event sponsored by the St. Ben’s and St. John’s Student Senates.
Grace completed an internship for large CPA firm Baker Tilly before ultimately accepting an offer from CPA firm Deloitte. She will move back to Portland, hopefully pass the CPA exam, and begin work with Deloitte this fall.
One of Grace’s only regrets was that she didn’t get to travel internationally as hoped due to COVID. She had planned to study in Japan for a semester and travel with E-Scholars to China. However, some of her best memories have been meeting other Bennies and Johnnies at cultural and other events on campus.
According to Grace, “I like that this is a smaller, liberal arts college with small class sizes. It helped me connect better with profs and build relationships with students in my class. It is easier to discuss tough and sensitive topics when students know each other, and the environment at CSB/SJU helps facilitate this.”
As the years pass, Grace will enjoy relaxing over a cup of boba tea and reminiscing about the four enriching years she spent at St. Ben’s and St. John’s!