Temple fencer’s energy brings her success off the strip

Malia Hee’s attention to detail helps her excel at fencing and graphic design.

Sophomore sabres Malia Hee (left) and Kerry Plunkett practice at the Student Pavilion on Feb. 13. | ALEX ST. CLAIR / FILE PHOTO

Malia Hee’s work ethic has led her to be both successful in fencing and in her future advertising career.  

The junior fencer helped a company in Paris win a startup award in Summer 2018, received academic honors and is 10 wins away from becoming Temple University’s winningest sabre.

As an advertising major, Hee spends more than 40 hours per week balancing schoolwork and fencing on the Owls’ sabre squad. Hee won the Elite 90 award at the NCAA championships last season for owning a 4.0 GPA, the highest of any competitor at the event. 

Her hard work has taken her overseas, too. During the summer, Hee spent three months as a graphic design intern in Paris with bMotion, a music therapy program for young adults and kids with learning disabilities. She helped design a pitch deck to introduce a “Musical Interactions and Learning Activities,” therapy program which won the Jean-Louis Gerondeu Award – Zodiac Aerospace that is given to students, recent graduates or doctoral students who have a viable business creation project.

With 165 wins after going 17-4 in Saturday and Sunday’s Northwestern Duals, Hee is on pace to break Kamali Thompson’s record of 175 sabre wins. Hee won 15 bouts on her way to finishing first at the Penn State Garret Open on Nov. 3 this season.

To be successful on and off the fencing strip, consistency is key, Hee said. 

Hee’s most consistent attribute is her energy, coach Nikki Franke said. Whether Hee is dancing with her teammates before practice, competing at a meet or doing schoolwork, she aims to give full effort.  

Hee is “the epitome of a Temple student-athlete,” Franke added.

“Every day, Malia has energy in every endeavor,” Franke said. “Her squad can feed off of that energy, and she feeds off her teammates’ energy. It’s always a great dynamic when she is around.” 

Hee’s goal is to work in the sports advertising industry. The Vancouver, Washington, native’s dream job is to work at Nike, which is headquartered in the Pacific Northwest. As she works toward that goal, Hee applied to be a creative design and product development intern for Under Armour in Baltimore this summer, she said. 

Hee has had an eye for art since middle school, she said. Doing photography as a hobby helps her keep it, she added. As a detail-oriented process, graphic design teaches Hee patience and awareness of small details.

“You have to spend a lot of time refining your projects, spending a lot of time getting feedback from your peers and professors,” Hee said.

She applies that attention to detail to everything she does, including fencing.

Winning the Elite 90 award was an honor, Hee said. She dreams of winning it again at this season’s NCAA Championships but wants to accompany it with a result better than her 13th-place finish last year. 

“I have put in a lot of hard work throughout these two and half years and I just want to keep that consistency,” Hee said.

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