Lee C. Wei
Lee C. Wei, an avid Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) supporter, dedicated her life to empowering young adults interested in STEM and helping to advance underrepresented minority students in the field. Her passion, generosity, and leadership will live on through a generous donation by family and friends to the non-profit BRDG - Bridge to Connect, an academic mentorship program for first-generation students and underrepresented minorities paving a way into STEM fields.
Lee and her late husband, Prof. Robert (Bob) P. Wei, spent their lives advancing science and innovation through education and mentorship. Their generosity will see to it that even more students now have the opportunity to excel in STEM.
Lee grew up in Shanghai, China, fleeing to Chongqing shortly before the Japanese invaded in 1937. After the war, Wei immigrated to the United States with her family, settling in New York as a teenager. After completing high school, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Manhattanville College in Harrison, NY, and her master’s degree in Chemistry from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. She would go on to earn a master’s in Elementary Counseling from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania after Bob took a faculty position in mechanical engineering and mechanics there in 1966.
For 20 years, Lee worked as an elementary school guidance counselor, enthusiastically sharing her passion for helping to shape and inspire future generations of learners and achievers.
“My father was an engineer. His father was a physicist. And my brother, Bill, is a materials scientist. So mom was constantly surrounded by science and technology,” explained Tim Wei, Lee and Bob’s younger son (who is also an engineer). “My parents would often host my dad’s graduate students at their home for dinner. Many of the students were international and so mom
befriended their wives and helped them to establish themselves here in the States.
“My mom was a giver; an educator at heart,” Tim continued, adding, she would even help to edit Bob’s research articles. “She was always active in science and engineering, just never front and center.”
After her husband’s death in 2015, Lee moved into a retirement community, where she established a STEM scholarship to support the educational aspirations of the young adults working at the facility. “It was important for her to continue to encourage others to seek STEM opportunities,” Tim said.
With her death earlier this year, her family and friends felt it was only befitting to continue Lee’s legacy and commitment to education, counseling, and mentorship, by continuing to contribute to the cause. “BRDG is really helping young people be successful through engineering and technology education, and that would make her happy,” he said.