HOMETOWN: Federal Way, Wash.
MAJOR: Applied psychology and human development; minor in computer science
NOTABLE ACTIVITIES/ACHIEVEMENTS: Gates Foundation Millennium Scholar; president, Students for Education Reform; Teach for America campus coordinator; co-founder of educational technology start-up TradeRoutes; ran Boston Marathon to raise funds for Brookline Mental Health. 
POST-GRADUATION PLANS: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ed.M. in technology, innovation and education.

OVERVIEW: Lee’s mentor at Boston-based startup program LearnLaunch told him “Think: you can do whatever you want.” With that advice, Lee channeled his interests in education, entrepreneurship, digital media, and computer science into a business idea. As a junior, he co-founded TradeRoutes to develop “adventure-driven” online resources for social studies teachers and students; TradeRoutes placed second in the social enterprise track of this year’s BC Shea Center Venture Competition. Late in his junior year, Lee was diagnosed with a mental health condition, and while he was able to recover enough to complete a summer internship at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, he acknowledges it took time to learn to manage his mental health care and regain some of the confidence he’d lost. He started step-by-step, literally, training to run the 2016 Boston Marathon, and although it wasn’t an easy day, he crossed the Boylston Street finish line, savoring the sense that once again, anything is possible.

Ryan C. Lee
Ryan C. Lee '16 (Lee Pellegrini)

How did you catch the entrepreneurship bug?
I don’t come from that background. My dad works for the U.S. Postal Service, my mom is a homemaker. It wasn’t part of my upbringing. When I got to BC, I was very interested in video and digital media. During my internship at LearnLaunch, I got to know partner Hakan Satiroglu. His message was “Think: you can do whatever you want.” It got me thinking big.

What led you to co-found TradeRoutes?
I studied abroad in Nepal, where I kept a weekly video and photo blog. I was piecing together this great content from the country and sharing it with my family and friends. When I came back, I realized I didn’t want to stop doing that. TradeRoutes is about providing high-quality media, presented in a way that teachers can use to improve their teaching. Teachers are artists. When you give them the best materials to work with, they create the most beautiful things.

Which members of the BC community have had the greatest impact on you?
There have been many: Assistant Dean Audrey Friedman in the Lynch School, Assistant Dean for Student Outreach and Support Caroline Davis in the Dean of Students Office, and the team at the Shea Center. I was a research assistant with Lynch School Assistant Professor Vincent Cho, who works in the education technology field. He got me to think about the big picture of technology in the classroom. He’s been a mentor to me and got me thinking a lot about where ed tech is going and how to apply that.

How has BC made a difference in your life?
I got here and I was a clueless freshman. But everyone at BC – faculty, academic advisors, staff members, the program leaders – has supported me. I’d call it a family of support, be it in the Lynch School of Education, the Carroll School of Management, or the Shea Center. They helped me to connect my many interests, from pedagogy to technology to starting a business.

What experience at BC had the greatest impact on you?
As a junior, I was diagnosed with a mental health condition and it took a lot to deal with that. I got a lot of help from people on campus. Running the Boston Marathon was a challenge to me to get back on track. I thought if I can run this marathon, then I could get through anything. I called it Marathon For Mental Health and ran to raise funds to support the Brookline Mental Health Center. To get to the starting line, to make it to the finish line is what I will always remember about BC – the support of my friends, my professors and advisors, my family. It told me how much I have.

What will you miss most about BC?
I will miss seeing all my friends every day. I’ll miss the network of people who support you – some people call it the “bubble.” Just being part of BC opens doors. Having “bc.edu” on your email means you can reach out to teachers, principals, superintendents, or a CEO or a museum director, and someone will respond.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about yourself. Don’t be afraid to change. When I came to BC, I thought I had a lot figured out. But I didn’t. Don’t be afraid to always challenge yourself.

By Ed Hayward | News & Public Affairs