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Great Plains Journey Stories

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Sean was raised in the Hunan province of China as an only child to supportive parents; father engineer, mother librarian; who encouraged him to seek the best education available. He started school earlier than most children and studied English from the outset. His paternal grandparents were both teachers and tutored him so that he could pass the demanding junior high school and high school entrance exams. In China’s highly stratified university system, matriculation from an esteemed high school that offers the highly competitive “academic Olympics curriculum” is almost essential for admission into a Tier 1 school. Sean succeeded on every count and entered Shanghai Jiao Tong University to study biomedical engineering.

Sean’s childhood was not much different than someone from North America in some ways. He played sports and took a memorable vacation to the province of his maternal grandparents. At university, he also played sports and dabbled in the financial markets with the ¥30,000 gifted to him by his father. That experience was a precursor of things to come.

Following graduation in 2010, a summer exchange program at UCLA in Los Angeles served as his introduction to life in the West. From there it was on to IIT in Illinois to work on his PhD. He graduated from IIT in 2015 after having acquired valuable

collaborative industry experience in helping heart failure patients to get back on their feet and receiving the high honor of a Young Investigator Award. A 2015 trip to Croatia yielded important contacts and his first job at St. Jude Medical of Minneapolis, a company later purchased by a big pharma company, Abbott Labs. Never forgetting his trading experience in China, in his spare time Sean started work on the CFA. In 2023 his employer, then Pfizer, announced a major transition out of its Illinois operations that impacted his future. Today, he envisions working independently in the financial world as a result of his 2022 trading performance (48% return).

Sean’s personal life did not have the same gilded trajectory as his educational and professional ones. Married in 2015 and settling in Boston, his wife was unsuccessful in finding suitable work and moved back to Chicago two years later. Sean eventually followed, but the die had been cast and a divorce followed cementing the lowest point of his life. Nonetheless, while in quarantine during a 2022 trip to China, he swiped right on a dating app and is now in a new relationship with a pianist. Although she also studied in the US, her current domicile is China and thus a logistical dilemma for them. Stay tuned…

Sean has found the experience of living in the United States transformational. In China there is a dearth of individual thought and action. The “greater good”, as defined by the CCP, is the driving narrative. Individualism is not encouraged and worse, it can be severely punished. The opposite, for the most part, is true in the West. For this reason, he feels free to indulge himself in the thought of greater financial and emotional security by entertaining an about-face in his career.

Sean has achieved throughout his life and will undoubtedly succeed in his next chapter. An extraordinary life!

The West Opens the Eyes of a Chinese Biomedical Engineer


May 16, 2023

Stories Ordered by Created Date 

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