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Young Lee

Young Lee (BSM ’05) has packed a lot into 38 years.

A senior vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, he’s been honored twice by Forbes, in 2018 and 2022, for his abilities. He spoke at his commencement ceremony in 2005, received the Young Alumni Award from Purdue in 2015, and earned the Bernie Flowers Award for Outstanding Contribution to Sports from the Joe Tiller Chapter of the National Football Foundation in 2021. He and his family also have endowed a scholarship in honor of Sara Stein Koch, former director of undergraduate programs at the business school.

But the most important thing in his life? “Be a better husband. A better father,” says Lee, father of two girls with a third child on the way.

Lee grew up in New Jersey the youngest of four children. One of his brothers went to Purdue, and he says, “I always wanted to do what my siblings did, only better of course!” They set quite a standard — his oldest brother, Jae, is a professor at the University of Miami and leads a lab at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. His second brother, Ho, graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Purdue and is a lieutenant colonel in the Space Development Agency of the U.S. Marine Corps. His sister, Rami, is an immigration attorney.

Lee decided to follow Ho, choosing Purdue. He was active on campus and found a number of mentors, including Stein Koch, advisor Erik Props, and Roger Stewart, who served in a number of roles in the business school at Purdue after a successful career at Procter & Gamble.

Those influences helped shape his desire to give back to others. “I feel indebted to people who believed in me, and I want to pay that forward to the next generation,” he says.

His decision to join Merrill Lynch was based on a couple of factors.

“I wanted to work somewhere where diversity was promoted and where I could advance on my merits,” he says. Perusing a list of Fortune 500 CEOs, he saw Stanley O’Neal, the Merrill Lynch CEO who was once named the “Most Powerful Black Executive in America” by Fortune. Dow Kim, a Korean-American executive, was a past president of global markets and investment banking at the firm as well.

Lee connected with Bart Burrell and David McGaughey, who run the local Merrill Lynch location, and moved back to Greater Lafayette after beginning his professional career with the company in New Jersey. He’s actively involved at Purdue and the community, but always keeps an eye on the home front.

“Being raised in a single-parent home, I know how important parental influence is,” Lee says. “My father’s goal in life was simple…to have his kids finish one step ahead of him. I hope to honor him and have my kids do the same, do more and make a larger impact than I did.”