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Spotlight

Chi-Wen Chien

Chemical Engineering
Story originally published on Oct 2021
My husband and I moved here from Taiwan almost six years ago, where I had been a high school teacher for 10 years, and I considered it an adventure.

I didn’t come to Stanford Engineering right away because two months after we arrived, our son was born. I was adjusting to both my new role and identity as a mother – and a new culture. In Taiwan, people are more indirect. Here, people are very nice and friendly but also straightforward; they tell you what they prefer and what they expect. It was a learning process for me.

Once my son started preschool, I wanted to continue my career; staying at home was wonderful but I wanted to have something just for me. I loved the educational environment but I didn’t want to go back to being a teacher. It was wonderful in many ways but it just consumed so much of me; I felt responsible for my students’ physical and mental health.

The administrative associate position in Chemical Engineering was open and I took it; I’ve been here for over two years. In this role, I’m a generalist who takes care of a wide range of things for five principal investigators and their research groups. That means managing financial reporting; overseeing their schedules and travel arrangements; and processing reimbursements and purchase card transactions.

Every day, issues I’ve never encountered before come up and I have to find ways to troubleshoot and resolve them. There’s so much for me to learn here. My job might look static on paper, but it’s dynamic; I enjoy the sense of achievement I get from working through challenges. I like all my PIs; they each have different personalities, preferences, and ways of doing things but they’re all kind. I appreciate working with my colleagues in Chemical Engineering – when I need help, they’re always there with a hand.

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