Meet the Alumni Models: Jocelyn Lee

As a Zumba instructor and teacher, Jocelyn Lee is well adjusted to performing in front of people. Nevertheless, she was terrified to strut down the runway at the Runway Show 2019: “I was scared sh**less” she laughingly exclaims. Today she is so grateful that she worked up the courage, calling the event humbling, purposeful and up-lifting. She felt immeasurable honor to be apart of something so special that inspired others to give to this cause.

While we won’t see her physically take the runway this year, Jocelyn is a prime candidate for our virtual Runway Show 2020. She glows with positivity and kindness, despite being behind a screen. Indeed, she firmly believes that attitude influences success, and it is that mantra she took with her during her cancer treatment. Jocelyn notes that she has people she HAS to show up for, and since giving up is never an option, she must arm her body with the best possible tools to defeat what she is facing. It’s why through most of her treatment, she kept purposeful focus on her mental health. For Jocelyn, maintaining a positive mental outlook and attitude was the extra boost her body needed to keep fighting. She notes that it was not always easy and she is forever grateful for the support of her family who lifted her up during difficult times. It was those little acts of kindness that added up, says Jocelyn: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” -Desmond Tutu

Jocelyn’s mental strength was put to the test again when her own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was one thing to face her own battle, but it was exceptionally horrible to re-live it through her mother and witness her suffering. Her mother, currently 71, is technically a breast cancer survivor as of August 2019, but chronic pneumonia led doctors to realize that she developed Interstitial Lung Disease from the chemo. The disease slowly causes lungs to deteriorate and means she has about 3-5 years to live. It was a crushing blow to Jocelyn, who hopes that her mother will beat the odds. The sobering diagnosis is made more crushing by COVID. Her mother has been instructed to remain in isolation in her home 24/7 for her safety. It means Jocelyn and her brother can only interact with their mother on the phone, or on FaceTime.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Jocelyn remains steadfast in finding the silver lining. She notes that again, the community’s little acts of kindness inspire her. Since her mother cannot leave her home, Runway arranged for a local survivor and alumni model, Alison Soule, to shop and drop off groceries. It’s a stark reminder, Jocelyn notes, that it is all of our jobs, especially during this time, to keep kindness in the world and keep people hopeful. The irony is not lost on Jocelyn that the world is experiencing what a cancer patient’s reality is during treatment. It’s why she feels empathy for all those around her, experiencing isolation and the myriad of emotions that come with it for the first time.

In her own life, she finds the silver lining in her Zumba community. As a Zumba instructor, she loves moving, but previous instructor guidelines prohibited virtual teaching. Luckily, exceptions have been made during COVID to allow virtual instruction, which has granted her to take classes with people globally (Japan, New Zealand, South Africa etc….). She feels grateful to be connecting with those from all over the world who, on some level, are facing the same circumstances. In an effort to also connect more with her inner self, she has begun meditation with the new company CORE. As a fast paced person, she is trying to find balance during an uneasy time and notes the company and its app have been a huge help.

Jocelyn also finds hope in the future, especially the Runway Show 2020. She notes that the event, in person or virtual, is a “burst of positivity, inspiration, hope and love.” The show serves as an affirmation and a celebration, which is what people need now, more than ever. What’s even more special is that those feelings ring true for both models and participants- a unique combination of understanding and love around less than ideal circumstances. As someone who had a choreographed Zumba experience at her wedding, Jocelyn cannot wait to, once again, partake in communal dancing and movement that will no doubt inject some inspiration, positivity and joy into the lives of participants and attendees alike.