Elaine Lan Chao continues to unleash her leadership potentials in the various political position of the United States Government. She did not get up the ladder without a fight, she had her fair share of apartheid struggles, but with the help of her parents’, she was able to overcome and shine.
Elaine Chao was born in Taipei – Taiwan, the first, and eldest child of her parents among six daughters. She migrated to the United States with her mother and two sisters at age eight. Before the migration, Elaine’s parents although Chinese lived in Taiwan. Following the political turmoil, societal upheaval, foreign invasions and civil war in China at that time, which resulted into so many hardships, instability, and uncertainty that caused many to leave the country in search of peace and safety.
Her parents first met in Shanghai during World War II. In 1949, but got married in Taiwan, having relocated separately to the country. A few years later, Elaine’s father received a scholarship to further his studies abroad. He left for the USA, and three years later his wife and three daughters, Elaine, Jeanette, and May to America.
Life did not turn out so rosy, as the Chao family arrived America things became difficult, with no family or friends settling in became a challenging experience. Elaine was enrolled in Syosset High School in Syosset, New York, on Long Island as a third-grader. The school was not fun as she could not communicate in English. She spent school days alone because she could not understand anything her teacher or the other students said. Having started off her early education in Chinese language, Elaine had been accustomed to writing in the language.
Soon, she learned to speak and write in English with the help of her father who took out his evenings teaching his little daughter by patiently going back over each day’s lessons.
Against all odds, the family grew into a united and loving family and never lost their steadfast belief in the promise of America. James and Ruth were able to empower their girls to thrive in the new country with the hope of a better future. Both parents were an inspiration to their daughters, as they instilled in them the importance of family, faith, education, hard work, self -discipline, self-sacrifice, self-reliance, determination, service and contribution to their community and Society.
At age 19, Elaine was naturalized as a U.S. citizen, and in 1975 she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, followed by an MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1979. Elaine did have her fair share of achievements, during her days at Harvard Business School, she was the first woman at Harvard to be elected class officer and class marshal. She was an active member of the finance club, the financial accounting club, the international business club, and the transportation club.
After her education, Elaine started her career in the banking industry, she rose to become Vice President for syndications at Bank of America Capital Markets Group in San Francisco, California. She also served as in international banker at the Citicorp in New York, before joining the United States Public Service sector, where she has served over twenty years.
Elaine has served in various platforms and position right from the presidency of Ronald Reagan over America and to this present President Donald Trump administration.
Despite the early struggles to fit in, this woman of colour has set the pace for other aspiring women in diaspora.