Jessica Lee is Changing the Narrative

August 15, 2023

Doctoral candidate Jessica Lee always knew she belonged at UCLA — even if she had to chart a path here on her own terms. “It was — and still is — my dream school, and I was gutted when I didn’t get in for undergrad,” she says. Undaunted, after transferring from Santa Monica College and graduating from UC Irvine, she reapplied at the master’s level: “I told myself, if I get in I’m going to meet as many people as possible, take transdisciplinary courses across campus and be uninhibited in my search for community.”

Realizing her dream, Lee earned two master’s degrees from UCLA, one in African American studies and the other in English, and is now completing her doctorate in English as one of UCLA’s two UC President’s Pre-Professoriate Fellows for 2022–23. The self-described bibliophile also received UCLA’s Carolyn See Graduate Fellowship in Southern California & Los Angeles Literature in support of her work on groundbreaking science fiction author Octavia E. Butler.

Read the interview.