Making seniors smile and hearing their cheers is music to Benjamin Cardozo High School senior Jingyih Lee’s ears.
As a junior, Lee created “Reach Out Musicians Club,” an alliance that provides students an outlet to express their interest in music with one another by coming together to play their instruments.
The club performs gratis shows at various Queens senior centers such as the Bayside Senior Center, The Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, and Union Plaza Care Center.
“During my sophomore year my grandmother had a stroke and she was placed in a rehabilitation center in Flushing,” the 17-year-old said. “When I visited her, I noticed that the seniors there lived a humdrum life — there weren’t any recreational activities for them.”
He later realized funding to provide activities for seniors was cut due to the recession.
Determined to bring what Lee says is “happiness” to the seniors, he started playing the piano at some of the centers’ lobbies.
“Some people would come down to listen and I thought it was pretty satisfying for me and them,” Lee said. “They were smiling so when I started my junior year I thought, ‘Why don’t I make a music club?’”
Lee, who plans to attend the Macaulay Honors Program at City College of New York with a major in engineering in the fall, will pass down the director position to another member of his Musicians Club. Engineering fits in his philosophy of wanting to create inventions that could make the world a little better such as making accessible to people appliances that help simplify their chores.
“What engineering does is solve problems and that is what I want to do,” Lee said. “I want to help out society by using the resources that I have like how my club uses music as a tool to make a positive difference at senior centers.”
One such invention he has in mind is to create a heating pad powered by renewable energy that could be placed on people’s doorsteps and walkways to melt snow during the winter.
“Snow blowers don’t do the job completely because they always leave snow on the ground and that might turn into ice, and that is very dangerous for senior citizens,” Lee said.
Lee experimented with solar energy during a summer program at Columbia University where he worked with other high school students to create solar ovens that baked cookies.
While Lee was a junior, he took three Advanced Placement courses and was a member of the Science Olympiad team. He played on the wrestling team as a sophomore and is now part of the table tennis team.
Finding time for summer programs, academic work, his music club and sports while applying to thirteen colleges was not easy, he said.
“Time management is key,” Lee said. “Work hard but don’t bury yourself in work. Learn how to take the fastest route from point A to point B and don’t give up — just don’t give up.”
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