Finance runs in the Lee family, which calls Greenwood home and Clemson near and dear to their hearts.
The four children of Kerry and Kathy Lee, both medical professionals, have all attended Clemson University’s business school and majored in financial management. Three of the four are successful finance professionals. The youngest, Emma, is a 19-year-old junior destined to follow in the footsteps of her brother and sisters when she graduates, likely in December 2020, in three and a half years, just like her siblings.
“We are very different personalities, but we all share our parents’ values, including a strong work ethic,” said Emma, a College of Business financial management and accounting double major with a 4.0 GPA. “All of us are math-minded, analytical and very numbers-oriented, so finance just became a natural choice for all of us.”
Morgan ’11, 29, is a finance manager at Bank of America in Charlotte. Kirstie ’12, 27 and Connor ’15, 25, are investment bankers at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta. Emma spent this past summer as an investment banking intern at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta. She’s already landed a similar internship at Goldman Sachs in Chicago for next summer.
“Even though my parents are empty nesters, and my brother and sisters are immersed in their careers in other states, our family is still close knit,” Emma said. “We make it a point to get together whenever we can, for football, holidays, or for no reason at all but to be together.”
Emma attributes her and her siblings’ strong work ethic and desire to succeed to their parents’ upbringing. Kerry, an anesthesiologist and Kathy, an ICU nurse, were raised in Chinese and Hungarian immigrant families, respectively.
“They both grew up in immigrant families, which influenced their principles, work ethic and desire to achieve the American dream,” Emma said. “They passed those traits on to us, so we were held to high standards, and every one of us was treated the same.”
The standards Kerry and Kathy set for their children were very clearly spelled out: each child had to play a sport for at least one semester; they had to have a part-time job and only a set amount of their college education would be paid for, with the remainder being their responsibility through jobs and scholarships.
“One of my father’s common refrains was ‘you need to have skin in the game,’ ‘’ Emma said. “Unspoken but expected was that we all brought home good grades. And one thing my parents instilled in us early on was the art of conversation. They felt it was very important for us to be able to walk into a room and feel at ease striking up a conversation with just about anyone.”
Department of Finance senior lecturer and Alumni Master Teacher Kerri McMillan has had all of the Lee siblings but Morgan in her classroom.
“It’s not surprising to me that they’re all enjoying successful careers. Kirstie and Connor were great students, personable and a pleasure to teach,” McMillan said. “And Emma is following suit. She’s engaging, intelligent and destined for success just like her brother and sisters.”
The Lees’ love affair with Clemson began when eldest daughter, Morgan, decided college would be only a 90-minute ride north of Greenwood. Because they missed Morgan, the family made weekend trips to Clemson, many on Saturday afternoons.
“Our entire family quickly became football fans when we visited Morgan. We became season ticket holders and built close relationships with a group of long-time Clemson supporters in a tailgating area we call the Tent City Tigers,” Emma said. “Football not only brought us closer to Morgan, it was a catalyst for new friendships and instrumental in bringing us into the Clemson family.”
Though miles separate Emma from her siblings, she said they keep their Clemson fire burning by living vicariously through her.
“My sisters and brother have been great resources and mentors to me while growing up. I watched how they led their lives and pulled from their experiences. I’m fortunate to have others close to me who went through what I’m experiencing,” Emma said. “But without a doubt, our parents have had the biggest impact on us. In true Southern fashion, we were taught accountability, good manners, respect and hospitality, all of which have served us well in our lives.”
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