Missouri Valley / Iowa

Tight-Knit Team Drew Nicole Lee From Taiwan to Drake

Andrea Gallagher | May 01, 2023

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and USTA Iowa is featuring Drake tennis player, Jyun-Yi Lee.  


Jyun-Yi (Nicole) Lee came all the way to Des Moines, Iowa, from Taipei, Taiwan, to play tennis at Drake University. She liked how the classes were small,and professors knew the students, instead of just being a number. She knew she’d get a good education there. She also liked what she saw on the tennis court.


“During the recruiting process I saw how close the teammates are with each other and their good relationship with the coach that recruited me,” she said. “Also, the team is very competitive. These (reasons) made me really want to be a part of the team and couldn't wait to get recruited.” 

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Lee started playing tennis around the age of six, when her older brother wanted to play and they were both able to take some private lessons. She said tennis is not a common sport in Taiwan. 


“It is not very popular in Taiwan, because we have other sports like badminton and baseball that are easier and cheaper to learn,” she said. 


Lee said she hopes months like Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month bring awareness to different cultural groups. She is the only student at Drake who is Taiwanese.


“Being an Asian, I find myself in a minority group at school because Drake does not have that much Asian,” she said. “Therefore, it is important to recognize and understand different cultures during this month.”

The sophomore is studying psychology at Drake University, and hopes to add a graduate degree as well. She’s not sure where she will go after college, but one thing is for sure, she does miss the Asian food back home. 


“The only thing that I can never get used to is when I stay up late studying, and I see my friends in Taiwan posting the food from home on their Instagram,” she said. 


The month of May was chosen for AAPI Heritage Month because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843.



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