1. Please tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in the Boston area to Chinese emigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan. My family moved to Ohio when I was a toddler, and then we moved back to the Boston area when I started 8th grade. I graduated from Wellesley in 1992 with a double major in Biological Sciences and Chinese Studies.
2. Why did you decide to become a Chinese Language and Culture major? How did it shape your experience at Wellesley?
My parents were active in the Boston Chinese community and were acquainted with several of the faculty, so it was assumed that I would continue studying Mandarin at Wellesley. (Talk about pressure!) But it wasn't until after I spent a summer in Taiwan on the "Love Boat" program that I discovered I wanted to know more about my roots. That led to courses in Chinese history and religion, and I figured I might as well put all those credits towards a major! Being a Chinese Studies major helped inform my identity as a Chinese American and propelled me to become more involved at Wellesley -- with the Asian Association, the Brushstrokes Asian literary journal, and the Intercollegiate Asian Students Council (through which I met my future husband).
3. What are you doing now?
After spending a decade as an environmental consultant, I decided to stay home with my children. Reading books to them reawakened my love of creative writing, and I began studying the craft of writing for children. I'm now a children's book author, with two published picture books (THE NIAN MONSTER, illustrated by Alina Chau, and MAGIC RAMEN: THE STORY OF MOMOFUKU ANDO, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz) and two more picture books on the way. WATERCRESS will be published in 2021 and illustrated by Jason Chin, a Caldecott Honoree, and LULI AND THE LANGUAGE OF TEA will be published in 2023, illustrated by Hyewon Yum. I'm so pleased that my picture books are all illustrated by Asians! I also just sold two middle-grade novels -- the first, THE MANY MEANINGS OF MEILAN, will be released in the summer of 2021.
4. How has your Wellesley experience and your major influenced your life/career after college?
When I began writing again, I realized that I really wanted to write stories about Chinese culture and people. I vividly remember meeting Nien Cheng (author of LIFE AND DEATH IN SHANGHAI) and hearing her speak at Wellesley. She had been invited by the Chinese Department and a large group of students, myself included, were able to have dinner with her after the event. It was a pivotal moment for me. My Wellesley experience gave me a foundation from which to begin and the confidence to pursue a second career as an author.