Purdue Alumna shares a passion for connection and inclusion
Purdue Pharmacy alumna Sun Lee-Such was born in Seoul, South Korea and emigrated with her family to Chicago, the city that she still calls home, in 1979. Early on in her education, Lee-Such says she developed an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and specifically pharmacy - which led her to Purdue.
“I visited a number of schools and when I visited Purdue it just felt right,” she said. “It also had a great reputation but was not too close or too far away from Chicago.”
Lee-Such was involved in a number of clubs when she was a student – the Asian American Association (which at the time was called the Purdue Asian American Students or PAAS) the Korean Club, several pharmacy organizations as well as intermural tennis and volleyball. But one, in particular, stands out.
“Out of all the clubs, I felt the Purdue Asian American Student association (PAAS) made me feel most ‘at home’,” said Lee-Such. “I enjoyed interacting with the diverse Asian community and the upper-level students made me feel so welcomed. We all strived to do our best academically, but at the same time, took part in social activities to have fun and decompress from our studies.”
Even without a dedicated space, such as the current Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center, on campus at the time, Lee-Such and her peers knew the importance of creating connection and awareness on the West Lafayette campus.
“When I was the president of PAAS in the early 1990’s, I met many Asian American students from small towns where they were the only Asian in their community or students from big cities who were not interested in their Asian American heritage. So, we sponsored events to increase awareness of Asian American heritage to all constituencies on campus.”
As the President of PAAS, Lee-Such also participated in regional meetings and activities, building connections with other Asian America student leaders in the Midwest. She was among the founders of the Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU). At these MAASU meetings, she met her husband, Domingo P. Such, III.
“I have to say that out of all the experiences I’ve had at Purdue, being the President of PAAS prepared me the most for the leadership roles I’ve taken on professionally. I learned many skills that have helped me succeed in my career.”
Lee-Such, who graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1993, currently serves as the Great Lakes Region Vice President, Ancillary and Oncology Services for AdventHealth. In her current role, she is responsible for strategic planning and service optimization across the continuum of care for four hospitals including inpatient, outpatient, pharmacy, infusion centers, 340B programs, lab, oncology, ACO, and physician networks.
Lee-Such points to important skills that she developed while at Purdue:
- Connection/Building relationships. “I learned to recruit and welcome first-year students into our club. It takes effort to make connections. Today, connecting and building relationships with my associates, physicians and leaders is an important aspect of my job. Connecting is an important skill that helped me become a successful healthcare executive.”
- Mentoring: “I learned a lot from other students and officers when I joined PAAS as a first-year student. When I was the president, I wanted to make sure I also extended the welcome to first-year students. The inclusive atmosphere helped them with their challenges adapting to college. I started to look out for the members who were struggling academically or socially. It provided me the opportunity to mentor students and help many with their academic work or loneliness. Recently, I met one of my pharmacy school classmates, whom I have not seen for 25 years, he thanked me for helping him through pharmacy school. He stated that without my support, he would not have passed his classes and be the pharmacist he is today. It was very rewarding to hear that feedback 25-years later. I continue to mentor young professionals and colleagues. Recently, one of my mentees was promoted as a president of a company and another one as the VP of a health system pharmacy service lines. These moments provide me with great joy.”
Sun Lee-Such recently made a visit to campus and was pleased to be able to finally tour the AAARCC and speak with current students in a meet and greet event. She encouraged them to take advantage of all Purdue and the center has to offer and to carry the skills and passion with them when they leave campus. At the event, Erin Tran (Junior, Mechanical Engineering), current President of the Asian American Association (AAA, formerly PAAS) introduced Sun Lee-Such and Domingo Such.
“Current students at Purdue are very fortunate to have access to the Asian Resource and Cultural Center, Lee-Such said. “I hope all Purdue students take advantage of the resources to increase their awareness and create special bonds among those with similar and diverse Asian backgrounds. Diversity, equity and inclusion resonate with me as I faced many challenges to be where I am today. There’s been increased awareness on this topic, but we all know that we need to continue to fight this battle. It’s everyone’s responsibility, especially those of us in a leadership role.”
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