The International Student’s Advocate

May 22, 2024 by Lydia Hicks
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Photo of Andy Lee

In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in May, NATA Now is highlighting some of our Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders at the state, district and national levels.

When Woohyun “Andy” Lee attended Incheon National University in Korea, he was able to take athletic training classes, but didn’t have the opportunity to practice.

Upon learning there was a new athletic training professor at his university was certified by the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC), Lee discovered new hope for his dream.

“One day, I attended marine training as a student assistant, which was a class where the students were required to swim and train in the ocean,” he said. “Dr. Jupil Ko’s actions were the spark to my passion for athletic training. One student came back to the camp from the ocean because of a dislocated shoulder, and he handled the situation. I was struck by his prompt evaluation, efficient immediate care and concern for the student’s safety.”

Lee decided to further his studies as an athletic training student in the United States, having researched how the profession operates in the U.S.

All those experiences fascinated me, and it was exactly what I wanted to be,” he said. “I realized what I should strive for and that’s why I came here and studied athletic training.”

Now a Master of Science in Athletic Training student at Weber State University, Lee has also served the profession as the District Seven representative of the NATA Student Leadership Committee.

Learn more about his experience and aspirations.

What was your first volunteer position within the athletic training profession and why did you get involved?

My first volunteer activity within the athletic training profession was at a youth soccer training held by the Korea Football Association in May 2019 for kids under the age of 14. It was a three-day camp for selecting youth national players. I love soccer and even my primary career goal is working in the professional soccer league. So, I didn’t hesitate to apply for this opportunity and had a great experience.

Tell us about your current position as a member of the NATA Student Leadership Committee and what you hope to accomplish in this role.

I got involved with SLC as District Seven representative, advocating for athletic training students. We create professional development opportunities for students at the NATA Clinical Symposia & AT Expo every year. Also, we encourage students to engage in the athletic training community through social media and other fun activities.

As an Asian and international student, I aim to bring different views to the committee. Also, I wanted to advocate for athletic training students with diverse backgrounds and nationalities and make all students have a respectful environment without any discrimination. I hope to motivate and encourage other international students to follow their aspirations in athletic training and promote the diversity of the profession.

Why is representation in leadership important and how does it impact the profession?

Representation in leadership is important because if more people engage, it expands our profession and allows us to represent diverse groups. It can also promote cultural competency, make a more constructive community and motivate future leaders.

How has volunteering helped you grow personally and professionally?

I’ve grown personally and professionally through many different volunteer experiences. As a volunteer AT student, I have developed hands-on skills and acquired clinical experiences beyond my program. Also, I have had chances to introduce athletic training to high school students and undergraduate students in both my undergraduate and graduate programs. I improved my communication and leadership skills and developed more passion for athletic training by sharing my enthusiasm and educating students about athletic training. Serving as a District Seven representative with SLC has further developed my leadership and interpersonal skills and expanded my professional network, making me feel more connected to the athletic training community.  

What’s your fondest memory of serving so far?

I've been fortunate to have many positive experiences. While covering athletic events, all the athletes treated me with respect, and I was happy that I could help them. I love being a part of SLC because everyone is so nice on the committee, and I am more motivated because of their passion for athletic training. At the NATA convention last year, it was awesome to meet people in the athletic training community. We also had social networking and high-quality lectures or workshops for athletic training students, which is hard to have, especially for international students because, typically, they are new here.  

What advice do you have for other athletic training students who want to give back to the profession? 

I just want to say to other students, do whatever you can for athletic training. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Volunteer at athletic or community events, be an NATA member, be a mentor for fellow students, donate or even try to be a great athletic trainer. I strongly believe everything you do makes you better and our profession better as well.