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Learning, Leading and Giving – Alumnus Shares Lessons of Success

2013-10-28 | Brigham Young University-Hawaii

Emmy-award winning television host and producer. Chinese fashion icon. Best-selling author. Humanitarian. These are all titles for Yue-Sai Kan who visited campus and spoke to students on Friday, October 11, 2013, during a visit to Hawaii. She’s also a BYU–Hawaii alumnus.

People magazine called her “the most famous woman in China” and Time magazine proclaimed her “the Queen of the Middle Kingdom.” Yue-Sai has been involved in the television industry for more than three decades, including producing and hosting many national and international TV series. She received an Emmy for her role in the ABC documentary “China Walls and Bridges.”

Yue-Sai also started the Yue-Sai Cosmetics brand, which grew to be one of China’s most popular names in cosmetics, recognized by more than 90 percent of the Chinese population.

As she spoke to students in the Aloha Center Ballroom, she recalled her time at BYU–Hawaii with fondness. She had been a Music major and played her last concert at the McKay Auditorium. She also worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center as a tour guide. “Every night, I would run over to see the last part of the Night Show performance,” she recalled. “It was a great memory for me.”

Yue-Sai Kan acknowledged the university’s unique environment for learning so much about the world because of the cultural diversity among the student body. She shared one experience about having the opportunity to interview the King of Tonga for a television program, and because she had had Tongan roommates while she was student here, she felt prepared for the meeting.

With students from several countries and backgrounds present, she shared lessons about success she gathered over her 35-year career. She asked students to ponder three questions: “Do you love what you are doing? Are you passionate about what you’re studying? Is what you’ve chosen to do good for others? If not, do something else because every day is a lost day if you spend it on something you hate.” She also encouraged students to learn to speak more languages, learn to participate, learn to work hard, and learn to love and give. She explained that success was measured by how the last 20 years of life would be spent, either surrounded by loved ones, financially independent, and healthy or not.

“You are the sum of what your choices have been,” she stated. “What you choose to do will affect you in ways you won’t believe.”

In 2012, then-Mayor of Honolulu Peter Carlisle recognized Yue-Sai Kan for her work connecting China and the rest of the world by proclaiming October 6, 2012 Yue-Sai Kan Day.


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