As you all know, I am a fan of figure skater, Olympian and diplomat Michelle Kwan. The last time I saw her, it was for a fundraiser for Vivek Viswanathan, who last year was running for California State Treasurer.
A friend of mine who happens to be a Yale alum had posted the above video of Michelle speaking at Yale as the 2019 Chubb Fellow:
“Michelle Kwan, Chubb Fellow – Spring 2019 will be the honored guest of the Chubb Fellowship and Timothy Dwight College. Ms. Kwan will deliver the Chubb Fellowship Address to talk about her remarkable career as a figure skater as well as her public diplomacy experiences. Details at https://chubbfellowship.com”
Figure skater and Yale freshman Nathan Chan was in attendance – I imagine he helped in someone to get her as a speaker.
I didn’t necessarily learn anything new from the talk that I didn’t know, since I am quite familiar with Michelle’s history in skating (I did see her skate in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics) as well as in public service, but I was quite struck when someone in the audience asked in the first question, what was one of the characteristics that lead to her success, and she had mentioned her being ‘scrappy’ – and explained that being from an immigrant family from Hong Kong, she didn’t come from a well-to-do background, and her dad didn’t graduate from high school and her parents had nothing. So it was Michelle’s scrappiness that helped raise money for coaching, where she had to quit skating at times because lessons were expensive, ice time, as well as equipment and costumes, etc. Michelle was able to get grants as well as supporters, and had to borrow costumes (she even made it to Nationals before getting a coach).
I was struck by her comments since oftentimes, we do think that figure skaters have sponsors or come from well-to-do families, but often they do not – something that the film I, Tonya helped shed light on.
Someone also asked if Michelle was going to run for Senate one day, and she didn’t have any immediate plans to run for public office. But she did say she might help in a future presidential campaign, like she did with Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton as a surrogate outreach coordinator.