When Dan Lee stepped off the plane in California back in 1990, the 20-year-old South Korean émigré was seeking the American dream. After earning an advanced degree in economics, he accepted a job offer at PSU, believing the small-town New England setting would be a good place to raise his young family.
As an associate professor, he has established himself as a go-to expert for the key decision makers who are guiding New Hampshire’s billion-dollar tourism efforts by providing critical economic data to the state. He also publishes a quarterly report, the North Country Economic Index, which evaluates economic trends to help businesses “north of the notches” plan for the future.
Jean-Manuel Duvivier illustration.
Lee is also helping the future of the Granite State in a less visible way: he’s teaching young people how economics plays a role in supporting community businesses.
Two years ago, Lee organized an economics club at Plymouth Elementary School, where children are taught how to analyze rudimentary data and create models to help local businesspeople plan for success. His motivation? The desire to give back to the place that embraced his dreams for a better life.
“I am an immigrant and this country has been really good to me. For a long time, I wanted to do something good for this country, especially the children,” says Lee. “Teaching kids that economics is about using data to make the best possible decision is my way of giving back.”
Lee’s heartfelt “That I may serve” approach to the Plymouth area has so far provided several dozen children with economics knowledge, which they turned into valuable advice for a half-dozen businesses that applied their findings. Lee is happy with his efforts so far, but he wants to achieve even more.
“I don’t think I’ve accomplished enough to feel proud yet,” he notes. “But it feels good to give back unconditionally.” ■ Bruce Lyndes