» Go to news main

Recreation Therapy grad found her strength and leadership ability

Posted by Ryan Donato on June 4, 2024 in School of Health and Human Performance, Students, Alumni & Friends, News
Sun Lee (left), pictured with Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch was awarded the Dr. Hugh Noble award at Convocation.
Sun Lee (left), pictured with Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch was awarded the Dr. Hugh Noble award at Convocation.

Sun Lee moved to Kitchener, Ontario from Seoul, South Korea in 2013 where she was employed as an occupational therapist assistant and physiotherapist assistant. Despite loving and being proud of her work, Lee began to look for other career opportunities. Lee’s search led her to Digby, Nova Scotia where she accepted a position with the Digby Hospital.

Before moving to Nova Scotia, Lee had never worked with a recreational therapist before and was unaware of the profession’s broader impacts. However, Lee’s time working at the Digby Hospital coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the incredible challenges facing their department, Lee quickly became inspired by the passion, talent, and resolve of her co-workers.

“Recreation therapists Rachel Skanes and Charlotte Sabean at the Digby Hospital remained undeterred in the face of great challenges. They adapted to the pandemic and provided various forms of assistance to ensure that patients did not lose hope.”

“They decorated the walls of a patient's room with family photos, brought in plants, and laminated newspaper articles to keep patients informed about the outside world, bringing liveliness to patients' lives. This experience sparked my interest in recreation therapy.”

When Lee joined the Recreational Therapy program she was initially interested in physical therapy since it aligned with her previous experience in physical and occupational therapy. As her studies progressed, however, Lee took a keen interest in the Mental Health and Addictions aspect of the program. This interest eventually took her to an internship with Connect Halifax, a local mental health and addictions clinic where she helped facilitate their programs as a recreation therapy intern.

Developing a leader

Lee credits her time at Dalhousie for helping her become a more confident leader.

“I had very supportive team members and professors. With their support, I discovered leadership qualities in myself that I never knew I had.”

Lee became an active member of the Dalhousie student community where she served in several volunteer roles. Her first volunteer role was as a member of the Recreation Orientiation Committee where she helped organize the program's annual camping trip for first-year students. She has also served as student director of the Nova Scotia Therapeutic Recreation Association, Vice-President External of the Dalhousie Recreation Association, and student coordinator of the Dalhousie Recreation Resource Library.

“Finding my own strengths and leadership throughout the program was the biggest highlight for me."

“Through these experiences, I realized I truly enjoy interacting with and supporting other students. Recreation is a small but mighty program where every student brings unique strengths. As someone who is not athletic, or artistic, and is also a visible minority who has a strong accent, I was happy to represent and inspire other students to think, ‘If she can do it, I can do it as well!’"

Outside of her studies, Lee works with the Heart: Mental Wellness Art Programming for Youth in Halifax initiative that works with youth to create a sense of belonging and support to meet their needs and interests. After graduating, Lee plans to spend the next month exploring Canada with her parents who are visiting from South Korea.

Dr. Hugh Noble award

During convocation Sun Lee received the Dr. Hugh Noble award which is presented annually to a student graduating from one of the three undergraduate degree programs in the School of Health and Human Performance.

The award recognizes all-round accomplishment as a potential professional. Faculty in the Recreation and Leisure Division are unanimous in recognizing her contributions to the School of Health and Human Performance, the broader Dalhousie community, and beyond. “On campus, Sun is a tireless student leader who creates opportunities for her fellow students to build connections and engage in professional development.”