Life is full of choices. Major fork-in-the-road decisions: where to pursue an education, whom to marry, in what do I put my faith, etc. Not all decisions are that significant but even the small ones can have a lasting effect on the path our lives take. The ultimate informant to that path is the sincere answer we offer to the question, who do I want to be?
Accepted to USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Arizona, UT Dallas, University of Oklahoma (which offered him a full-ride, plus room and board), Renssellaer Polytechnic, The Master’s University and waitlisted by Yale, Harvard and Caltech, Justyn Lee faced a major life decision.
He chose The Master’s University.
Double-majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, while minoring in Bible and pitching for the university’s baseball team (a two-time Scholar Athlete in 2015 and 2016 for both GSAC and NAIA), Lee walked across the stage at graduation last May (Class of 2016), Summa Cum Laude.
Within that same month, while at the NAIA Baseball Championships, he was hired as a software quality engineer at Northrop Grumman, a leading company providing technology for the government and commercial industries specializing in undersea, outer and cyber space.
When it comes to software engineering — his desired career since high school — the choice to attend Master’s U over some of the most well-known schools in the nation came down to his answer to one simple question, “who did he want to be?”
He knew Master’s would give him a distinctly Christian education, allow him to continue playing baseball and, with the accountability of Christian friendships at school and his church (Grace Bible Fellowship), he knew his faith would not be discouraged in the ways it would be in a secular environment, but only grow stronger.
During his sophomore year at TMU, one of his closest friends passed away causing him to pause and further question what his own purpose was? “It reinforced what Christ asks in the Mark 8:36, ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’” Lee reflected. “I asked myself, ‘If someone is looking at my life versus others, could someone see that I was a Christian? Do I live my life differently?”
For Lee, his life is not about the perceived reputation that comes with a degree from schools like USC or UC Berkeley. “I could have gone to those schools, but when I got the job at Northrop Grumman, I had no regrets realizing that Master’s prepared me well! . . . I know my life would have been so different if I had gone to a secular school. There would be a strong pull to have done other things.” It is about Christ. The fork-in-the-road choice to attend Master’s U did exactly what he hoped it would — prepared him for his desired career while strengthening his faith and testimony.
TMU’s baseball coach, Monte Brooks, emphatically spoke to this, “Justyn is a man of integrity and values his work ethic. He was a leader by modeling how he practiced, how he prepared for games, how he applied his intellect in assisting and educating his teammates to be better players. Everything is motivated by his love for Christ — to love God with his heart, soul and mind and to love his teammates.” He continued, “It all started by his determination and intentions; he is driven inward to love the Lord. This was manifest in his character as evidenced in his conduct and dialogue!”
His best friend and fellow teammate, Steven Karkenny ‘15, further established this testimony, “Playing ball with Justyn was a blast day-in and day-out. His drive to never give up, no matter the situation on the field, was truly a testament to his testimony and his character. His friendship has impacted me in that he is an amazing example of what a true brother/friend in Christ is — someone who is there to pick you up when you are down, celebrate in times of triumph and someone who aims to push you towards holiness.”
He chose Master’s in high school because he knew the education he would receive and the Savior he would come to further know. Christ is his compass. This, throughout his time in college and, even after graduating, has remained his guiding force. “The people I work with don’t have another standard to live by, they don’t have Christ, but that is the world we live in,” he said. “I don’t agree with the things they do or talk about but they don’t know any better. I want to live and speak in a way that stands as a testimony of Christ.”
Lee understands there is more to life in this world than the prestige of a “big name” school. He knows, for all he will accomplish professionally and for as much as he loves it, his job is not the end-all-be-all. It is not just that pursuit of excellence in all things Coach Brooks referred to; that his job, in one of the top technology corporations in the world speaks to; it is not just that pursuit of holiness Karkenny mentioned, but it is the heart behind it. Ultimately, it is the answer to “who does he want to be.” His life speaks for him. Justyn Lee is a follower of Christ; a student of the Master.