Presenting her senior piano recital on June 18 in the McKay Auditorium, Karin Ho Lee, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in music with an emphasis in piano, is graduating this semester. Friends said Karin Lee is an example to them and a positive person who looks out for others.
A musician at heart
Lee’s piano teacher, Jennifer Duerden, said she has a talent for interpreting music. “She always plays musically. That’s something very hard to teach because it comes from the inside. Even when Karin is struggling with a piece, she still plays beautifully.”
Duerden recalled when Lee first came to BYUH, she was nervous and not sure about whether she could be successful. But with her hard work and the support from others, she has been able to keep improving on her piano playing and finally accomplish a degree.
“Some students need help feeling confident. The more I complimented her on her playing, the more she would improve. Instead of being lazy, when she got positive feedback, it would make her want to work harder,” Duerden shared.
Aniela Santoso, a senior from Indonesia majoring in piano performance, said she liked how Lee was dynamic in her performance. Santoso said Lee was able to maintain stability through long pieces.
Lee performed pieces from different composers and time periods, including J.S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Felix Mendelssohn and Claude Debussy.
The content of her character
Lee explained she suffers from a skin condition called psoriasis. The effects are red rashes on her skin. She said she’s been struggling with the condition since she was 11 years old.
Helaman Lee, a freshman from Hong Kong studying computer science, and Karin Lee’s brother-in-law, said he felt strange his brother would choose to marry someone with a skin problem. Although he respected his brother’s decision, he was curious how the marriage happened.
As Helaman Lee began to know Karin Lee more, his view towards her changed by how she carried herself and treated others, especially how she treated his family members. He said, “She’s responsible. When she came to have dinner with my parents, she would volunteer to cook and wash dishes. Then, she moved into our house. She would clean the house. She wasn’t thinking, ‘This is not my house. I don’t need to do anything.’”
“She’s a gentle wife,” continued Helaman Lee. “Of course, a person’s appearance creates the first impression she makes on you. But to me, it doesn’t really matter.”
An example to others
The President of the Hong Kong Club Johnson Yu, a senior from Hong Kong studying exercise sports science education, said Karin Lee is a person full of love. He said Karin Lee would often praise the people around her so that they wouldn’t feel like they’re small.
Yu said Karin Lee is like a mother to him. “She cares about me. She invites me over for dinner a lot. Sometimes she asks people whether they’d want some food, hangers, fans, etc.”
Santoso said Karin Lee is an optimistic person and she often encourages other piano students. “She listens carefully. After, she would give you positive comments and suggestions. Her comments were not just ‘it’s good.’ Her comments [specific] details. It means a lot.”
When asked about why she would have the passion for always helping others despite how busy she is as a piano student, Karin Lee replied, “Helping others is just a responsibility of a disciple, and it makes me happy, so why not?”
A supportive spouse
Kenneth Lee, Karin Lee’s husband, said she had once given up on coming to BYU–Hawaii because she worried her skin condition would get worse in Hawaii. However, because her husband was studying at BYUH, she decided to come and stay with him.
Kenneth Lee started his studies at BYUH earlier than she did and had plans to attend graduate school in California. According to Kenneth Lee, his wife was able to finish her bachelor’s degree in two and a half years.
Looking back on their lives at BYUH, Kenneth Lee said he’s amazed by how much his wife has improved in different aspects. “She was afraid to speak English at first but now she can make friends with international and American students. She learned to cook. At church she’s active in the Relief Society. A lot of people love her. She’s been developing herself in different ways. I admire and love her.”
Karin Lee said her husband is supportive of her. As she was preparing for the recital, her husband cooked lunch for her every day. Also, the dress and the necklace she wore for the recital were a gift her husband gave her in her first semester at BYUH.
Yu commented, “Karin and Kenneth have experienced a lot together. [Couples] should support each other like they do. They’re really good.”