CPASS student wins national Diversity Award

Sammy Lee

Sae-Mi Lee, a fifth year doctoral student beginning this fall, is the 2016 Association for Applied Sport Psychology Student Diversity Award recipient. This award recognizes and honors students who have made important contributions to the field of Sport and Exercise Psychology on issues related to diversity.

“I’m really excited to receive this award. Professionals in the field who also believe diversity is important are encouraging me to keep shedding light to the margins. Promoting equity and social justice is important, especially in sport psychology, because we’re trying to help people and improve their lives.” Lee explained.  

Lee will spend one year in a diversity-based dissertation fellowship at Ithaca College to complete her dissertation while teaching one class each semester, starting August 16 through May 31. Her dissertation title is “Student-athletes’ experiences with microaggressions.”

“I’m excited to create and teach my own courses,” Lee explained. She says that students and administration are eager to explore racial issues and join the conversation.

Lee notes that there are only two published studies looking at microaggressions in sport so far. “Microaggressions have gained more popularity, but there are also people who criticize the concept asking, ‘Is it real? Haven’t people simply become overly sensitive?’ I’m trying to use a new theoretical lens that no one has used before to explain why people can’t just brush microaggressions off,” she added.

Lee has personally experienced microaggressions. She has memories of being subtly put down due to her race or gender. “Although people may have preconceived notions, stereotypes can be changed,” she said.  

Lee says her experiences at WVU have been supportive. “CPASS has been extremely important to my personal and professional development. They put students’ growth first. Every faculty member has my best interest at heart. I often blurred discipline boundaries and they were open and willing to let me do something outside the box,” Lee explained.

“I could go to any faculty member in and out of the department for support. My dissertation committee values the interdisciplinary approach,” she added.

She was born in Austin, Texas and has lived in many different countries. She moved to Korea where she received her undergraduate degree, earned her master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology in Finland and studied abroad within the European Master’s program of sport and exercise psychology in Germany. 


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