The pioneer among us: Jeffrey Lee conquers conformity


Danny Tajimaroa

Senior Jeffrey Lee, Congress captain on the Speech and Debate Team, runs through his speeches whenever possible. While the team dresses in their suits on days of their tournaments, Jeffrey insists every Friday to be a Fancy Friday.

Suit. Tie. Converse. Check. Senior Jeffrey Lee makes his way across campus –evolving throughout high school and defying the norm, this senior has grown into his own.

He bears many titles. From being a little brother to a Speech and Debate captain, Lee, who embraces the Lancer life,  has a melioristic outlook: not an optimist, but believing in a gradual improvement of mankind.

He draws daily inspiration from the often overlooked Booker T. Washington.

“He was a pioneer for racial equality and was ahead of his time,” Lee said. “Yet, his ideas never came to fruition. Years later, Martin Luther King Junior addressed the same issues, and no one gives any acknowledgement to Washington’s work.”

Lee shows a great appreciation for those who step out of the limelight.

“My favorite band has been and will always be, Owl City,” Lee said. “Their music is geared toward young children and middle-aged women. I realize I’m in the wrong demographic –I accept it.”

Society has taken no toll on Lee. Playing by his own rules, he stands out in a crowd. However, he will conform when eating sushi –enjoying popular and less exotic dishes.

“I worked at a sushi restaurant for three years.” Lee said. “I found that I like more of the touristy stuff.”

His taste buds are no match for the lyric mind behind his pen.  Lee fills his time with writing poetry. As inspiration sporadically seizes this young poet, he takes advantage of every moment.

“I have a love-hate relationship with poetry,” Lee said. “Like any creative art, I have bursts of creativity. I need a means of communication for my emotions, and I do it through poetry.”

Writing his way into his senior year, Lee has prioritized work and play.

“I enjoy Dungeons and Dragons, also Speech and Debate, but primarily Dungeons and Dragons,” Lee said. “Partying is unsettling to me. I would rather spend time challenging myself intellectually.”

Lee’s intellect comes from a place of love. Before losing his godfather to leukemia, Lee was given his college ring. He treats the piece of jewelry as an incentive to go to college. Lee’s history with education is anything but ordinary.

“I basically flunked the third grade – at the time, I had no motivation,” Lee said. “But looking back on the experience has encouraged me to work harder, making me into the person that I am today.”

And today, Lee is a Lancer partaking in a Carlsbad organization that has continuously been ranked within the top 1% of America – the Speech and Debate Team.

In Speech and Debate, Lee embodies a United States Congressmen. He is a captain, preparing and overseeing other students competing in a simulated model of a Congressional debate.

“He is a fantastic leader who inspires and teaches our students how to succeed in congress,” Speech and Debate coach Mrs. Curtis said. “He has a great attitude and is not afraid to reach out to our new teammates, making them feel welcome and at home.”

Lee, now a big part of Speech and Debate, did not always plan on taking part in the organization.

“My dad and I were walking through the 3000 building and we were stopped by the only girl standing by a poster advertising Speech and Debate –Yujia Pan,” Lee said. “She was not very convincing, however. She kept talking about how much work it was and how stressful it was. And although she continued to share how many times she has cried while on the team, she kept talking!”

Nevertheless, Lee’s father proceeded to make his son join the organization.

“I literally entered the team thinking this is going to be one of the worst experiences of my life. Well, I was wrong,” Lee said. “It has become an outlet for me to channel all my energy into. And being a captain is stressful! Our previous leaders have been wonderful and made it look easy. But when I watch the younger kids achieve the same happiness I’ve reached, it makes the stress worth it. I care for them.”

Lee plans on carrying his debate experience into the work force. He dreams of studying law at the University of California Los Angles and pursuing a career in prosecution. Until then, Lee can be found with a hand placed in the pocket of his suit jacket –flipping his 1977 silver coin.

“Jeffery is very much his own individual. He doesn’t worry about following ideals or expectations,” Curtis said. “I will always remember Jeff for his smile. He is the first to be free to give a hug, and he genuinely appreciates people.”

Born at sea, sitting behind his typewriter, and living for the future –Jeffery Lee’s journey continues one step at a time.