the hard pursuit of happiness

Post graduation, my father worked in Taiwan as a pharmacist. After WWII ended, a Chinese civil war began. My father was able to help some of his extended family escape to the tiny island republic. Some family however were unable to escape or chose to remain behind in China. Their family of 8 brothers and their families would be divided by political boundaries for over 20 years. After working a few years in Taiwan, my father applied to several graduate chemistry programs and gained admittance to Yale and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. UNC had offered more scholarship money so in the 1950’s my dad, a 4 foot 9 inch, 90 pound, handicapped, fresh-of- the-boat Chinese man arrived in the segregated south. While he experienced some discrimination, it was nothing compared to what other minorities had experienced. My father faced language, cultural, and physical barriers, but persevered through working hard and mental fortitude. As the first of his family to come to the US, my dad left his life behind in hopes of a better future. This time in his life shaped him and the lessons he taught me as a child — no matter a person’s socio-economic background, ethnicity, or physical handicaps, everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue their dreams and work hard to succeed. My father finished his PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry, completed a post doctorate, became a research professor, then eventually left academia to industry where he developed and patented several medicines and medical devices. Though he achieved a lot professionally, my father never forgot his roots nor did he ever take things for granted — living frugally but graciously and consistently sending money to his family back in Taiwan and China.

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