Daniel Lee ’16 began his journey at APU as a political science major due to his interest in politics, his desire to make a difference in the world, and the broad career options the major offers. Today, he works as a public affairs specialist in digital media with the Department of Defense.
“I was passionate about politics and wanted to learn more about how political systems work,” said Lee. “I was interested in understanding how decisions are made, political campaigns are run, and how policies are implemented.” Knowing that an education in political science would provide a practical foundation for making a difference, it was the strength of APU’s Department of History and Political Science that most drew Lee to the program. “Looking back on my career,” he said, “APU is imprinted in every step. From graduate school to internships and entry-level positions, I was able to excel due to the rigorous education and mentorship I received from APU.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2016, Lee went on to earn a Master of Arts in Statecraft and National Security Affairs from the Institute of World Politics in 2019. His success in graduate school was directly related to the skills he’d learned and honed at APU. “Professionally, APU provided me with a high-quality education and the necessary skills to pursue my career,” said Lee. “The lessons learned as a political science major prepared me for graduate school and a career in public affairs. The program’s commitment to academic excellence and spiritual growth has helped me live a life of service and leadership.”
Much of Lee’s service is lived out through his unique career. Working for the Department of Defense provides a path for Lee to serve his country, fulfill his sense of duty, and be part of a community, something he learned the importance of while at APU. “APU taught me that building a sense of community and support can lead to a strong network of peers and mentors who can provide guidance, support, and opportunities in one’s career,” said Lee. “Listen to your professors; they have a wealth of knowledge. Talk to your classmates; they may have similar goals.”
Lee describes his work community as one of camaraderie and belonging. “The military is known for its strong sense of community and brotherhood,” he said, “and most veterans miss that sense of connection when they leave the service. By working for the department, I am part of a community of people with similar values and experiences.” Since working with the department, Lee has been flourishing. He’s received two Certificates of Appreciation in the last five years, one from the U.S. Department of Commerce (2019), and the other from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (2020). In addition to these, he was also the recipient of the Henry M. Jackson Internship Award given by The National Bureau of Asian Research. Lee has found fulfillment in his calling, and APU played a major role in preparing him for and propelling him toward his accomplishments.
For current students at APU laying the foundation for their own careers, Lee offers five tips for success now and in the future:
Set clear goals: A clear idea of what you want to achieve is essential. Set specific, measurable goals for yourself and create a plan for achieving them.
Create a routine: Establish one and stick to it. Set aside time for studying, completing assignments, and other academic tasks. Stick to your schedule as much as possible and make it a habit.
Eliminate distractions: Being disciplined requires focus. Identify the things that distract you the most and take steps to eliminate or minimize them.
Hold yourself accountable: Be honest about your progress and adjust your plan if necessary. Set deadlines for yourself and hold yourself to them. Nobody is going to do the work for you.
Stay motivated: Remember your goals (write them down!) and why they are important. Whatever you want to accomplish, embrace the process, and don’t dwell too long on the past or future.