Chanyoung (Eiline) Lee (CAS ’23) travels from her NYU residence hall up to Riverdale in the Bronx every Friday to spend all day training with the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) detachment at Manhattan College. Detachment 560 is unusual in that it welcomes students from colleges and universities across the New York City area. And for Eiline, who will become a financial management officer in the Air Force after graduation, the commute has been a small price to pay for the leadership skills she has developed as a cadet now tasked with instructing first- and second-year students.  

Chanyoung (Eiline) Lee on a purple background

Chanyoung (Eiline) Lee (Photo by David Song)

“I’m a quieter person and I’m still working on getting out of my comfort zone,” she explains. “So when I’m in a position to be the leader of a discussion, I want to make sure that all voices—even those that might not be as loud—are being heard, and that everyone feels like their time is being valued by being there.” 

Eiline’s choice of major—international relations, a natural pick given her military path—was inspired in part by her own experience moving to the United States from Korea as an eight-year-old. “At that point I’d never really seen people of different races, and when I first encountered that diversity, I really valued it,” she reflects. “I thought it was really cool to meet people with such different ideas.” That appreciation for a variety of viewpoints is also what drew her to NYU from her family home in Princeton, New Jersey. 

“I like the independence that comes with it,” she says of living in the city. “You’re a student, but also you’re adulting.” Like ROTC, she says, NYU provides opportunities to adapt to professional life “before you’re just thrown into the world.” And her international relations courses—particularly those in the politics of Western Europe and the Middle and Near East, which she took while studying away at NYU London—have given her a practical sense of what a future career in diplomacy might entail. 

Outside of academics and the Air Force, Eiline has found community through NYU’s Asian American Christian Fellowship chapter, and enjoys outings with friends to the city’s board game cafes—including The Uncommons on MacDougal Street, just steps from the Washington Square Campus. 

Always up for a new challenge and an opportunity to improve her physical discipline, Eiline has also recently taken up rollerblading in Hudson River Park as a “total beginner,” encouraged by a friend who had more experience in the sport. “There are so many inspirational people out there,” she reflects. “Rather than sitting back, it’s important to see that there are so many opportunities in New York City. It’s a place where you can uncover your dreams, even if you start out not quite knowing what they are yet.”