Name: Elaine Chao
Elaine Chao was 8 years old when her family moved from Taiwan to the United States. Her father had come to the United States 3 years earlier as a college student in New York and worked 3 jobs in order to bring his family there. When Elaine arrived she did not speak any English and she and her family struggled to transition to their new life. There was not a strong ELL program in Elaine’s school, so she learned English by copying the lessons from the board into a notebook and then asking her father what the words meant when she got home.
Elaine eventually excelled in school and went on to get her master’s degree from Harvard. Elaine went on to work in finance and politics, oversee governmental departments, serve as the President of United Way of America (a large charity), and travel as a public speaker. Then in 2001 she was chosen by the President of the United States to be the Secretary of Labor. This made her the first Asian American woman to work in a cabinet-level position – one of the highest governmental positions available. In her work she has tried to make sure that all people have opportunities to build better lives, as her own family did.
Click here to download Mawi Learning’s ELL Heroes: 7 ELLs Who Are Changing the World workbook.This free resource was created to inspire ELL students to become the superheroes they are meant to be.