SanEun Lee

African Queen of Mathematics

When the first Pan African Mathematics Olympiad for Girls (Pamo-G) took place at the National Mathematical Centre in Abuja, Nigeria last year, a young woman who hopes to make South Africa her home was crowned “the African Queen of Mathematics.”

SanEun Lee’s gold medal helped the South African team, which also won a silver and bronze, to win the Pamo-G. And that wasn’t all. Lee also finished second in the concurrently run Pan African Mathematics Olympiad (Pamo). In April this year — this time in Senegal — Lee (17) was once again crowned queen in the PAMO-G, while simultaneously helping South Africa to first place in the Pamo.

In May this year, Lee was awarded the Dianne Tucker trophy for the top girl in the University of Cape Town Mathematics Competition — an impressive string of achievements for someone who only arrived in South Africa from South Korea two years ago. Lee has loved maths from a young age. She picked this up from her father, and her passion for the subject was nurtured throughout her schooling in Korea.

Lee came to South Africa to study at St George’s Grammar School in Cape Town, where she also excels in physical sciences, life sciences, geography, business studies and advanced programme maths. She is also passionate about helping her peers, and does peer tutoring weekly, in addition to playing tennis and the piano. Should she secure permanent residency in South Africa, she aims to study medicine at UCT after matriculating. — Fatima Asmal