Andy Le: Trailblazing Student Researcher, Coach Extraordinaire & PB&J Gourmet

The NSN’s Leader in the Spotlight monthly feature showcases the experiences and personalities of our National Young Leaders. For our first Leader in the Spotlight, we are pleased to present Andy Le, a General Science major at the University of Alberta. Find out, amongst other things, where his extensive achievements stem from, and how he makes the perfect PB & J sandwich.

You have accumulated numerous commendable achievements. What’s the single most important factor that has contributed to your success?

That is very flattering – thank you! There are many factors that have contributed to my successes, so it’s hard to single one out. That being said, I’ve always been the most thankful for my family, friends, and mentors. They’ve played crucial roles in my personal development. I attribute much of my success not to the things that I do, but rather to my values and motivations, which I uphold every day — and I have my family to thank for these values. From the very start, they have taught me valuable lessons, whether it’s to avoid sticking my fingers into electrical sockets or to learn from each and every experience. I have grown up valuing perseverance, putting in hard work  in everything I do, showing compassion towards others, good time management, responsibility, and learning from mistakes. It is true that, as I’ve become older, I am in charge of developing my own personal approach to life; however, it’s my family’s love and support that has kept me on the right track. Their confidence in me has helped me develop self-confidence, which has played a vital role in my achievements. The support of my friends has allowed me to keep a level head, in the pursuit of my goals. The advice and guidance of my mentors, whether that be the many coaches I’ve had or the research supervisors I’ve worked with, has helped me broaden my field of interest, learn from each experience, and achieve goals that at one point seemed unattainable. I am so thankful for the people who believe in and support me!

If you could do anything for a day, what would you do?

My ideal day would be spent somewhere on an exotic beach with friends and family. The sun would be out; the sky would be clear; we would have the BBQ going. At night, we would sit around a bonfire with guitars and ukuleles in hand, singing whatever songs come to mind.

When are you the happiest?

I am always happiest when I’m with the people I love. Nothing makes me happier than spending quality time with friends and family. Except for maybe food.

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met?

Even at 19, I feel like I’ve met too many people to be able to single out just one interesting person! I’ve met a man who has given up a well-paying job to pursue his life-long passion. I’ve met someone who has 104 years of experiences under his belt. I’ve met kids who dream of becoming professional athletes. I’ve met people who volunteer countless hours a week for no other reason than to make the world a better place. These are people who, at first glance, seem to be simply ordinary. But,  if you take the time to hear each person’s unique story, you’ll find that the people you meet are nothing short of extraordinary. Everybody is interesting in his or her own right – it’s too hard to choose just one person!

How would you make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

I would start by substituting the jelly with Nutella – there are few things better than a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. Grab two slices of bread. Then, make sure you do two things: check that the slices of bread are NOT the end pieces and remember to cut off the crusts! On one slice, spread your peanut butter and on the other, spread your Nutella. You shouldn’t settle for anything less than a perfect 1:1 ratio. In the toaster oven, heat up your sandwich. You would think that should be about it. But wait – we’re missing two crucial steps! First, slice up a banana. Evenly space the slices on your sandwich. Last, but definitely not least (in fact, I would argue this is the most important step), cut the sandwich down the middle diagonally into two triangular halves. And there you have it – the perfect peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich… except with Nutella and bananas.


Want to ask Andy a question? Connect with him through his own Q & A or by scheduling a chat. Andy would be happy to answer your questions and offer advice in research and leadership.

Be sure to stay tuned for next month’s Leaders in the Spotlight interview!

Interview by Jessie Wang.

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