I first heard the name Andrew Lee in 2016, when I was added to a long email thread about the independent study he'd just completed in Paul College for something called "Driven to Cure," which someone thought was worthy of a mention in UNH Magazine. It took me a few minutes to get my head around the story: Andrew was a student; he’d somehow raised $200,000 for cancer research, it appeared, simply by owning an eye-catching performance car. It took me a few minutes longer to realize Andrew Lee wasn’t “simply” anything.
At the end of his freshman year of college, when his entire life was still seemingly ahead of him, the 19-year-old had been diagnosed with a rare, late-stage cancer that he was expected to succumb to in less than a year. Rather than withdrawing from school, he’d returned to UNH in the fall of 2015 to continue his education for as long as possible, flying home twice a month for experimental treatments. When that eventually proved too difficult to sustain, he’d sought out Paul College professor Andrew Earle to help him turn the Nissan GT-R “dream car” his parents had bought him following his diagnosis into the basis of a nonprofit to raise research funds for the treatment of cancers like his own.
I never had the chance to meet Andrew, who died last April at the age of 23, but I followed his story as Driven To Cure continued to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research, and I remained in touch with his father, who credits UNH with helping Andrew not only to launch his business but also to find joy and meaning in his too-short life. While Andrew’s story is tragic, it is also a triumph: his generosity, hard work and vision have yielded an enduring legacy with the potential to change many lives.
This issue’s two other features also happen to be about Wildcats making a difference in the lives of others. Donna Lynne ’74 took a very different sort of challenge from Andrew Lee’s and used it as the inspiration for creating opportunities for female student-athletes and young professionals. The students who participate in UNH’s Semester in the City program dedicate a portion of their college experience to working for social impact organizations in Boston, learning valuable lessons about themselves and the ways their investment in the city’s underserved populations can truly have an impact. Taken together, these three stories paint a compelling picture, I think, of the types of people that UNH attracts, supports and sends out into the world.
Kristin Waterfield Duisberg