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Merry Cellars to Host “Change the World” Fellowship Fundraiser on April 7

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University graduate students in Molecular Plant Science have organized a wine tasting at Merry Cellars to be held on April 7 from 6 – 8 p.m. The purpose of the event is to help fund a fellowship founded by WSU in memory of fellow graduate student Virginia Lee. Lee died on New Year’s Eve last year, just a few months after being diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. She was 24 years old.

Dr. Virginia Lee. Click image to download full version.
Dr. Virginia Lee. Click image to download full version.

Two weeks before she died, and while in the hospital, WSU awarded Lee an honorary doctorate degree. Lee was awarded the degree “because of her potential as a scientist, her commitment to making a difference in this world, and the tremendous impact she has already had on plant science education at WSU,” according to a letter written by WSU faculty in support of conferring the degree.

Friends remember Lee as passionate about life, learning, and helping others. “If we’re not here to help others, what are we here for?” she asked in her final days. WSU founded the Dr. Virginia Lee “Change the World” Fellowship to create a scholarship fund to be awarded to graduate students with a desire to make a difference in the world. “Virginia was a brilliant scientist who, through this fund, will inspire future scientist to work on problems that will help the ‘little guy.’ I am very proud of her colleagues for honoring her memory in this way,” said Kim Kidwell, Associate Dean of Academic Programs for WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.

Dr. Virginia Lee. Click image to download full version.
Dr. Virginia Lee. Click image to download full version.

“Virginia made this world a better a place. We are aiming to raise $5,500 for her fund through this event so that we can do our part to help her dreams come to fruition,” said graduate student Tyson Koepke, one of the event’s organizers. “Announcements of our progress will be made throughout the evening.”

Advance tickets are $25 for students and $35 for all others, and include complimentary wine pours from the award-winning Merry Cellars, as well as hors d’oeuvres from Banyan’s Restaurant. Tickets at the door are $35 for students and $45 for others.

To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact Tyson Koepke ( or 509-335-6586), Laura Wayne ( or Kim Kidwell ( or 509-335-4562).


Media Contacts

Kim Kidwell, CAHNRS Associate Dean of Academic Programs,; 509-335-4562
Tyson Koepke, WSU graduate student,; 509-335-6586