Lee Schellenberger: Much More than the Girl Next Door

July 11, 2007
Nettra Pan

Although at first glance, Lee Schellenberger, 16, may seem to be a typical Californian girl with her streaked blonde hair, blue eyes and clothes from Tilly’s, a few minutes talking to her will show you that this is most certainly not the case.

As the daughter of Eric Schellenberger, 47, a member of the US Airforce at the time, Lee was born in Japan, lived in Germany for two years, and then moved to New Jersey. Now taking the UCSD’s Academic Connections program in San Diego, the travel-loving girl admits with a sigh, “I don’t actually remember living in any of those places.” Lee has lived in Livermore, California most her life, often vacationing with her parents and her brother, Alan, 11, in Tahoe. “I almost feel like I’m a local there,” she says, laughing. Lee’s mother, Vicki Schellenberger, 46, takes pride in having instilled in her children a love for skiing and snowboarding.

But aside from her snowy pastimes, Lee also has a creative side to her. “She happened to be born with an instinctive love for art,” Vicki says, “Ever since she was a little girl, she’s been playing with pencils and paper.” Since then, Lee has continued to pursue art. At age 8, Lee signed up for a local art class, albeit its 18 months waitlist, and last summer she took a four-week art summer school. “I started to grow up after that,” Lee says, and indeed she has, progressing from doodling pictures of her family to using acrylics and oil paints to paint impressionist scenes of Venice. In addition to art, Lee, influenced by her father’s fervor for rock music, is also working on mastering the bass guitar.

When you talk to her, it will be difficult to imagine that such an open-minded, creative and talented person was ever anything else other than the friendly and laid-back and person she is now. But Lee is no stranger to misfortune. Just over a year ago, Lee’s next-door neighbor, Brendan Rigby, 19, died in a car crash. “He was like a brother-figure to me,” she says, “His parents were like my parents. His little brother was like my little brother.” Unlike many teenagers, who cannot wait to be old enough to leave the home, Lee says she feels an obligation to “stick around.” Brendan’s brother, Collin, 13, was devastated. She says, “He’s like, an only child now. I need to be there for their family.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License