Dr. Raymond Lee is the assistant director of the University College School at Delaware State University. Prior to undertaking his position as Assistant Director, he served as an Academic Advisor in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Dr. Lee has spent his life and career working tirelessly not for himself but for others. Dr. Lee works with students, helping to mold them into young professionals ready to conquer the world after graduation. A well-rounded and educated man committed to serving his university, Dr. Lee sat down with us to let us into his world.
Hornet: Can we get to meet the man behind the face? Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
Dr. Lee: I was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. My upbringing was beautiful. I got to see my single mother growing up. She started off making two dollars and thirty-five cents an hour. She was looked down on as a black woman in corporate America.You know times were rough. I think the one thing that it did show me, when just looking at times where my mother didn’t eat so me and my sister could and other various things, was love and it taught me the value of hard work.
Hornet: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the man you are today?
Dr. Lee: “My mother, my mother is truly the greatest woman I have ever met in my entire life. She really exemplifies everything that it means to be a servant, to be humble, to give up yourself for something greater even if you don’t know the outcome. I guess I’ve been extremely fortunate, even though we didn’t have the best growing up. God has given it back ten fold.
Hornet: What about your family?
Dr. Lee: “We called ourselves the three musketeers. My sister, mother and I we were all we had. It wasn’t ideal, but everyday she made the little things matter. So my family life was absolutely amazing.
Hornet: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in College?
Dr. Lee: “I started out as an athlete. When I first got into college I got a girl pregnant. So I ended up having a child my first year of college. The decision came where I had to drop out of school so I had to choose me or my son. If I chose me, my son would go into foster care. I chose my son. I dropped out of school, which was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do. It hurt me because a lot of people that I went to highschool with and graduated before, were now graduating college before me, including my younger sister. Me getting back into college, it was a personal goal of mine. The other reason was to make my mother proud. Everything that I have done as far my education from bachelors, to masters, to doctorate degree was only to make my mother proud. When I got to my doctorate degree I realized one thing, there was a responsibility that came along with that. I was adding something to my family tree that wasn’t there before. For me today to here my daughters and my son say “I wanna go to DSU and finish what you started, I wanna be a doctor daddy” you know I like to think that I did something that matters. That the values of my mother doing something beyond self, some of those principles have been passed down over time.
Hornet: Can you tell us of your job/education experience prior attending Delaware State University? What was the most memorable point?
Dr. Lee: Serving others, helping those that can’t help themselves. I was the president of Safe Academy now I’m the president of the Safe Global Leadership Academy. It’s transcended, we’re able to help those that are homeless, we’re able to help those on the street that have nowhere to go. We help those that have HIV, we provide safe havens for those that don’t have child care. Everything that I’ve done it’s just really to serve a greater goal, it has nothing to do with me. I don’t want credit for any of it. Sure I’m the president, my sister is the vice president, my mother is the CFO. I can honestly say I’ve done none of it for me.
Hornet: Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or 10 years ago?
Dr. Lee: Absolutely. My goals were important to me because, you know I always say to my students not to forget that what you don’t know is someone is waiting on the other end of the door for you to walk through it and they may need you. I always keep that at the forefront for students that I work with and have such a good time with. I’ve never worked a day in my life, never one day. It’s just a duty, it’s service.
Hornet: What informed your decision on what your doing now.
Dr.Lee: I don’t work at Delaware State University for me. Delaware State has done so much for me as an undergraduate student. I am who I am because of DSU, the people God put in my life, the foundation from my mother. I can’t take credit for any of it and I’m just having a good time. I’m not working one minute.
Hornet: What are your plans for the future?
Dr. Lee: “To keep serving. To expand the safe leadership academy to more than two states, I would love to be in five different states. My plan is to continue to serve the students and the greater good at Delaware State University. I want to give my all to my students and the people I am charged with leading. My goals are to be the best person I could possibly be every single day, to serve as an example to my children of what it should look like. I plan to continuously to get better every single day, knowing that nothing is taken for granted everything is earned and not given.
Hornet: What kind of advice would you offer a student who is undecided on his or her career path?
Dr. Lee: Stop being afraid.What I’ve noticed about your generation is that it’s flip-sided, the coin is both. You could be afraid of fear and you could be afraid of success. You could be afraid of giving your all. Putting all your eggs in one basket and not achieving something could scare someone because if “I don’t get it I’m left with nothing.” The fear of success, to be there and not be competent enough to stay there scares people. The best advice I can give anyone is that every person who is born has purpose. Some people don’t want to embrace that purpose for the fear that it doesn’t come with enough money, it doesn’t satisfy their needs or they believe they aren’t good enough to have that. Truth is that you are.
Hornet: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
Dr. Lee: It’s in a better place because minorities have more opportunities to get a college education. It’s terrible because the same people that have the opportunities that others didn’t have when parent plus loans and all these other things weren’t available are wasting it. You guys are brilliant, when it comes to technology you guys are in the thick of things. I think the state of higher education today is great but I think it’s also very dangerous. We run the risk of students who are brilliant but no one will give them a chance because what they see on paper is going to be their first judgement and they’ll never get a second look. We run the risk of students graduating here and walking out into the world unprepared and competing with someone from Stanford, Yale, or Harvard or even down the street at UD. When you work for something it is greater appreciated. So I think the state of higher education is great but being someone who works in higher education I understand that we have to do more too. It’s not just on the student to work hard. Student are brilliant and unique but if you can’t connect with them it’s pointless. So we have to do more too.
Hornet: What do you think the future holds for America?
Dr. Lee: It looks wonderful, yeah there’s all this hate and racism stuff going around. Donald Trump this and Donald trump that but listen one man is not going to define this country and one man is not going to end it. We have the power over that. It’s a responsibility to be alive, it’s a responsibility to get up every morning and work. We are responsible for making this a better place. If you don’t like it get up go to the polls and vote. You don’t want something to happen in your life so change it. You hate the job that you have because you’re not making money? Work harder. Go back to school do something. It’s always been predicated off of us, it’s not about race. Yes racism exists, yes there are ku klux klans hiding behind suits and ties. Yes we have president that’s divisive but we’re talking about bits and pieces of a population that is overwhelmingly large. What happens when we all come together? I think when we realize our true potential as a country we all need to stop looking at color and look at character, see what’s inside a person. I think when we begin to do those things in a responsible way only then will people have hope and be able to give hope and inspire those that come after them. I think the state of this country is great. The x-factor is what we do with the opportunities when it’s in our hands.
Hornet: What are your thoughts on DACA and the policy of President Trump regarding the program?
Dr. Lee: “DACA is great I love the dreamers. The president is out of his absolute mind. But those are his personal views. But think about that for a second, that’s power.Why aren’t more of us at the table. We can’t only have an issue when things don’t benefit us. DACA…they are us and we are them. We need them just as much as they need us. This back and forth about the border and all this wall stuff. It’s just ramping up the rhetoric about something that’s a hoax. We need sets of immigration policies in place that are responsible. None of the stuff that the president talks about is factual. It’s all hearsay but that’s power which again is why more of us need to be at that table. Either you’re at the table or your on the menu. We want change but how badly do we want it. Prove it.
Hornet: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
Dr. Lee: “I’m a basketball player, I’m a hall of famer at my high school. It’s weird though my hobbies now are to give my kids the best life that I can possible give them. My hobbies are theirs. Whether I’m playing my little pony walking around like I’m a horsey for my little girls or just spending time with my son and just being there for him and supporting him. My family is my hobby. Whatever brings us closer together, whatever advances us, whatever keeps us tightly connected and bonded. That’s what’s going to be the best thing for me to do every single day.
Hornet: Let’s end this interview with your philosophy of life. How do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward.
Dr. Lee: “Life is only about servitude. When you come into this world. Your parents serve you, they get you to a place in your life where you’re ready to stand on your own to feet. Now your ready to serve others. Life has nothing to do with you.You do what you do so that tomorrow can be a little brighter for those who may have a little darkness. You give your all to your passion because it’s what’s in you. It’s about doing the right things when nobody is looking. To serve the greater good.”
Dr. Lee offers sound words of advice to all who stop by his office. He is committed to the success of all his students from all walks of life. Striving to keep students uplifted and inspired, Dr Lee is truly a driving force at Delaware State University.