The National Academy of Sports Medicine Launches a Revolutionary Personal Training Program that Makes It Quick, Easy and Affordable to Start a Successful Career

GILBERT, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the world leader in fitness education has developed a 100% online program that prepares Personal Trainers to begin their careers in fitness with confidence.

“The NASM-CPT course has increased my confidence in my ability to provide excellent service to clients as well as approach potential employers with belief in myself”Tweet this

“With over 30 years as the gold standard in fitness education, we are thrilled to introduce this revolutionary new program that will transform the industry with a smart, science-based approach that is affordable, efficient and highly-effective for any trainer to hit the ground running with a successful career,” said Laurie McCartney, President of NASM.

From exam preparation to practical application, the NASM Certified Personal Training program empowers today’s fitness professionals with an evidence-based roadmap to assess clients and guide them to healthier and happier lives.

The seventh edition of NASM-CPT features:

  • Seamless Access: The state-of-the-art technology allows you to study on any preferred device, whether it be a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. If someone switches from one device to another, they can seamlessly pick up where they left off.
  • Learning Made Easy: Students can highlight important content, take notes, create bookmarks, use ready-made flashcards, and more.
  • Multimedia Content: Hundreds of videos bring the course lectures and related exercises to life, providing a valuable resource before and beyond certification.
  • Updated OPT™ model: Using the latest research, this proven and proprietary training model incorporates popular training modalities to allow fitness professionals to create personalized programs for any client goal.
  • Career-Boosting Tools: The course was designed with a holistic approach to personal training, including nutrition and supplementation content, behavioral coaching, and business and professional development resources.
  • Flexible Payment Plans: Choose between 4 or 12 easy monthly payments. All options are interest-free.
  • Job Guarantee: With the All-Inclusive program, NASM guarantees you will be employed as a trainer within 90 days or the cost of the job guarantee will be refunded.

“The NASM-CPT course has increased my confidence in my ability to provide excellent service to clients as well as approach potential employers with belief in myself,” said Ryan R., an NASM-CPT from Shrewsbury, MA. “I am qualified to meet and exceed their requirements.”

NASM’s Personal Training course is NCCA-accredited, which is the industry leader for ensuring a certification program is designed to meet rigorous standards for all the required knowledge, skills and abilities.

For more details and to access NASM’s Certified Personal Training program, visit

About NASM: Now in its 33rd year, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has remained the international standard in fitness education due to the high quality of fitness professionals they produce and their programs’ scientific rigor. NASM offers a best in class Certified Personal Training program along with major bundles including, NASM EliteCareer KickstarterOnline Health Coach and more. For more information, visit

Fostering Connection in a Remote Environment

Connection. It’s what binds your people, your work and your values together, moving us towards your shared corporate purpose. And while we live in the most technologically connected era, for some, the prolonged shift to remote work has led to feelings of isolation and exclusion. Often hidden and rarely discussed, isolation and exclusion can afflict remote teams.

A 2020 “State of Remote Work” study, found that the second biggest drawback to remote work was loneliness[1]. What’s more, isolation and social exclusion most often happen in unintentional micro-moments that over time, can compound in the minds of your team members. While these scenarios may be inadvertent and perhaps even unmemorable for you as remote leaders, they can have profound physiological impacts on your team.

In fact, a study from the UBC Sauder School of Business revealed that the feeling of being ignored at work is actually worse for physical and mental well-being than workplace bullying[2]. Thus, while remote work is in many ways a collective experience, it is also a deeply individual one.

So, what do your people need from you to remain happy, productive and feeling successful in a remote context? The simple answer is: to feel connected and included in your organization, while also being confident about their place in it. To address these needs, your leaders can foster an inclusive environment by mindfully making inclusion and connection a daily practice on their teams.

3 Ways to Foster Inclusion Daily

  1. Mind the Micro-behaviors: Exclusion breeds in the subtleties. Seemingly minor acts, such as ignoring a team member’s morning greeting message, noticeably reading a chat message while on a 1:1 video conference or consistently showing up to a call ‘in a mood,’ can have observable negative impacts on your people. In a remote context, minor actions become amplified by the lack of informal interactions to offset these exclusionary behaviors. Combat these micro-behaviors by being:
    • Conscious of how you are being experienced by your employees.
    • Intentional about inclusively inviting team members to meetings, focusing your attention on the discussion and quieting distractions.
    • Mindful that the best leaders manage how they show up in the small moments, not just the big ones.
  2. Out of Sight, Top of Mind: Technology has created the ultimate illusion – that 24/7 reachability equates to increased human-to-human connectivity. Just because you have the ability to reach out, doesn’t mean you actually are – the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ syndrome is very much a real thing. And corporate relationships in particular put a lot of emphasis on the visible and impromptu connection points. As leaders though, you must make extra effort to be cognizant of your own exclusionary contributions to your team – no matter how unintentional they are. Here are some ways to keep your people top of mind:
    • Take 5: Take 5 minutes in your schedule every Friday to video call a team member not on your calendar this week. Think you don’t have time? Tie this habit to another habit, such as while waiting for your coffee to brew or before checking the mail.
    • Connect: Setup your high-potential employee(s) with an informal mentor or thought partner across the business. While you might not have time to connect with your hi-po regularly, someone else might be able to.
    • Amplify: Pay attention to who is quiet on your team calls and actively bring them into the dialogue. Return the conversation to someone who has been talked over or interrupted.
  3. Intentionally Inclusify: Strengthen resolve and connection by proactively ‘inclusifying’ your management practices. Inclusive leaders know that a culture of inclusion is the outcome of the consistent actions you do to create connection and a sense of belonging. Not sure where to start? Try one of these techniques:
    • Ensure Fairness Through Equity: Reorganize your schedule if your calendar or call logs consistently show the same people each week. Ensure you give team members equal time to connect with you and share their progress. Police team meetings to equalize the talking time of your quieter team members.
    • Be Aware of Halos and Horns: Challenge your natural tendency to see certain individuals as being able to ‘do no wrong,’ while other team members can ‘do nothing right.’ If you are always putting a ‘halo’ around your star performer and giving that person all of your attention – you are actively excluding everyone else from your purview. Remember to catch everyone in the act of doing something good and recognize their work.

Author: Carolyn Vasquez

Carolyn Vasquez is a talent development manager at Ascend Learning. She is responsible for the design, management and implementation of ongoing and new leadership and development initiatives across the Ascend organization. Carolyn holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a certified Brain-Based professional coach.

Jones & Bartlett Learning Receives Three Prestigious American Journal of Nursing Awards: Takes First Place in the Digital Products Category for Navigate Premier Access

Burlington, MA, January 8th, 2021 – Jones & Bartlett Learning, a division of Ascend Learning, today announced that several products in its nursing portfolio have been cited to receive the prestigious American Journal of Nursing (AJN) Awards. Each year the AJN conducts a peer-reviewed process of newly published textbooks and digital resources across nursing and healthcare selecting three best-in-class products per category. Since 1969, this annual awards competition has been highly regarded by professionals, faculty and librarians in both healthcare and academia.

The AJN Book of the Year Award is the hallmark of excellence in nursing publishing. I am thrilled that our authors and publishing team’s commitment to scholarship and quality are being recognized in this way. Congratulations to our authors and all award recipients!” said Matt Kane, Director of Product Management, Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jones & Bartlett Learning has been a frequent recipient of these awards and is honored to accept a first-place award in the Digital Products category for their Navigate Premier Access product featuring simulations powered by sister company, Kognito. Navigate enhances the teaching and learning experience by combining authoritative content with a wealth of online resources for faculty and students in a learning management system (LMS) environment. They also received a second-place award in the Informatics category as well as a third-place award in the Maternal-Child Health/Prenatal Nursing/Childbirth category.

We’re extremely excited that our Navigate Premier product was awarded first place in the digital products category as it demonstrates our proficiency in delivering exceptional online learning resources to faculty and students.” said Tim McClinton, President of Professional Education, Ascend Learning.

Awarded first place in the 2020 AJN Book of the Year Award in the Digital Products category: Navigate 2 Premier Access for Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning Featuring Kognito Simulations, Fourth Editionby Jacqueline Rhoads and Sandra Wiggins Petersen.

Awarded second place in the 2020 AJN Book of the Year Award in the Informatics category: Introduction to Computers for Healthcare Professionals, Seventh Editionby Irene Joos, Ramona Nelson, and Debra Wolf.

Awarded third place in the 2020 AJN Book of the Year Award in the Maternal-Child Health/Prenatal Nursing/Childbirth category: Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, Sixth Editionby Karen Wambach and Becky Spencer.

About Jones & Bartlett Learning
Jones & Bartlett Learning is a world-leading provider of instructional, assessment, and learning-performance management solutions for the secondary education, post-secondary education, and professional markets. Jones & Bartlett Learning develops educational programs and services that improve learning outcomes and enhance student achievement by combining authoritative content written by respected authors with innovative, proven, and engaging technology applications that meet the diverse needs of today’s instructors, students, and professionals.

NHA Creates Partnership, Path for Accredited Immunization Training for Pharmacy Technicians Ahead of New Vaccines

Leawood, Kansas – National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is now partnering with CEimpact to offer pharmacy technicians an ACPE-accredited immunization training option, helping them qualify to administer vaccinations according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act.

CEimpact, a leader in pharmacy training and education, will provide both immunization training and technician-specific continuing education courses to NHA’s educational and employer partners, along with pharmacy technicians. The immunization training is open to all state- licensed pharmacy technicians, regardless of whether they are nationally certified.

“With the arrival of flu season plus the recent availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the timing couldn’t be better,” says Jessica Langley-Loep, NHA’s Executive Director of Education and Advocacy. “NHA has long been active in advocating for expanded roles for pharmacy technicians, and we are excited to play a role in public health by enabling technicians to administer immunizations.”

“NHA accompanies the pharmacy technician along every step of their professional journey, giving them access to resources that go beyond just certification,” adds Lyndsey McDonald, NHA’s Director of Pharmacy Partnerships. “We offer learning solutions at every stage of their career – from foundational learning, through ExCPT (CPhT) certification, through career advancement. The advanced skills training and continuing education component of this partnership aligns perfectly with our efforts to promote the advancement of pharmacy technicians in improving patient care.”

The HHS PREP Act expands on previous rights accorded to qualified pharmacy technicians and state-authorized pharmacy interns, authorizing those who meet HHS requirements to administer childhood vaccines, COVID-19 tests, and COVID-19 vaccines (upon availability). The recent announcement comes as pharmacies nationwide prepare for an onslaught of immunization requests, with major retail pharmacies hiring thousands of additional employees to help meet the demand.

For more information on NHA and the ACPE-accredited immunization training for pharmacy technicians through CEimpact, visit

About National Healthcareer Association®
Since 1989, NHA has been partnering with allied health education programs, organizations and employers across the nation to award more than one million allied health certifications. The organization offers eight nationally accredited exams, certification preparation and study materials, learning resources, industry-leading outcomes-based data analytics, as well as ongoing professional development and continuing education for its certification holders. For more information, visit

NHA is a division of Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC, a leader in providing technology based educational, assessment, testing and certification solutions for healthcare and other vocational fields.

Media Contact: Lyndsey McDonald, National Healthcareer Association (913) 661-6529 or [email protected]

Ascend Learning Named Best Place to Work by Phoenix Business Journal

December 22, 2020

GILBERT, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ascend Learning, the parent company of three Phoenix-based fitness and wellness brands, today announced it was named one of the top 10 best places to work among midsize companies by the Phoenix Business Journal. The award recognizes best workplaces based on company culture and employee reviews. The announcement was made during a virtual event recognizing the top Valley-area businesses that scored the highest on a confidential employee engagement survey conducted by an independent research firm.

The Ascend Learning office in Gilbert includes the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and ClubConnect, LLC. The employees at NASM, AFAA and ClubConnect produce and support the world’s most respected certifications and continuing education programs for health clubs and fitness professionals.

“Having our teams recognized for their hard work and dedication to building a culture that celebrates collaboration, inclusivity and innovation, is a great honor for us and we are excited to be among these great organizations striving to make a difference,” said Laurie McCartney, President of Global Fitness & Wellness for Ascend Learning. “We continually look for ways to improve and transform lives through health and fitness, and we believe an engaged and productive work environment is the backbone that supports all our efforts.”

Early in 2020 Ascend Learning moved into a new office space in Gilbert that includes more areas to facilitate group interactions and a state-of-the-art gym. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all employees transitioned to working remotely in March.

“To support the transition to working from home, we added more daily check-ins with our staff to keep our teams up to speed on important projects. We also included dedicated time for fun activities including things like daily meditations and workouts to keep everyone connected and motivated,” said McCartney. “Our ability to pivot at every level of the business has also helped us accelerate the development of a new Virtual Coaching Specialization, which we are proud to provide to our customers. That course is now empowering personal trainers all around the world to stay connected with their clients, even in a lockdown.”

A complete list of the Best Places to Work 2020, along with more details on the winning companies, is available through Phoenix Business Journal.

About Ascend Learning:Ascend Learning is a leading provider of online educational content, simulation, software and analytics serving students, educational institutions and employers. With products that span the learning continuum, Ascend Learning focuses on high-growth careers in a range of industries, with a special focus on healthcare and other high-growth, licensure-driven professions. Ascend Learning products, from testing to certification, are used by frontline healthcare workers, physicians, emergency medical professionals, nurses, certified personal trainers, group fitness instructors, financial advisors, skilled trades professionals and insurance brokers. Learn more at

About NASM: Now in its 33rd year, the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has remained the gold standard in fitness education due to the high quality of fitness professionals they produce and the scientific rigor of their programs. NASM offers a best in class Certified Personal Training (CPT) program accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the leading accreditor of certificate courses in the fitness industry, along with major specializations in Nutrition Coaching (CNC), Sports Performance (PES), and Corrective Exercise (CES). Learn more at

About AFAA: The Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) has led the way in certifying group fitness and personal trainers for over 35 years. AFAA pioneered the first nationally standardized guidelines for fitness professionals and has educated over 350,000 instructors and trainers in 73 countries. AFAA’s Group Fitness Instructor Program is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Learn more at

About ClubConnect: With products and services supporting over 8,000 health clubs and gyms across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the Middle East. ClubConnect is the market leader in health club software, supporting gym employee onboarding, educational development, and credential verification. Learn more at

Employee Spotlight: Laura Paglucia

As a director of product management working with Ascend’s professional education businesses, Laura Pagluica works with the Computer Science, Public Health, and CDX Product Managers to assess market needs and problems and create innovative strategies to bring products to market. This involves everything from visiting with instructors and students, to profit and loss analysis, to creating new growth strategies. Her favorite thing about working with the team is that she loves the collaborative environment of her department. Whether it’s sharing innovative ideas and best practices, or brainstorming together to solve a problem, she enjoys working with such thoughtful and creative individuals.

Q. What’s your favorite Ascend value and why?

A. Embrace Change. I’ve been lucky to work in a variety of different roles at Jones & Bartlett Learning, including editorial assistant, sales rep, and product manager. Through these roles, I have been able to learn new markets, forge relationships with different teams and colleagues, and apply a variety of different skills. Change always brings opportunity and a chance to learn.

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice a mentor has given you?

A. A mentor once told me that I should strive to learn something new every day. Whether it’s my personal life or my career, there are always new things to learn, areas for improvement, and a chance to learn from others.

Q. What are three (or more) things that are on your desk right now and why are they there?

A. My desk looks a bit different now that I am working remotely during the pandemic. At my home office, I always try to have fresh flowers- they never fail to bring color and cheer to my day.  I also have a wedding photo of me and my husband- we just got married a few weeks ago- and a bag of treats for my new shih tzu puppy, Rosie.  In the Burlington office, my desk is filled with mementos from my travels, photos of family, and a snow globe- a gift from a colleague that always brings a smile to my face.

Q. What is one goal that you plan to accomplish during your adult lifetime?

A. I would love to hone my photography skills! I have an amateur interest in photography and love to take photos during my travels. I’ve taken a few photography tours when visiting other countries, which is a great way to see the country through a local photographer’s eyes.

Q. Outside of work, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy?

A. I love to travel. I have been to 28 countries, and have so many great memories, from camping in the Sahara desert in Morocco, to hiking a glacier in Argentina, to taking a motorbike ride along the Vietnamese coast. I love experiencing different cultures, tasting different foods, and all of the other adventures that travel brings!

Texas Woman Recognized as NHA’s One Millionth Certification, Helps in COVID Vaccine Study

Leawood, KS – Curtrise Ware, a newly certified clinical medical assistant in Killeen, Texas, recently helped put the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) at the “one million certifications issued” mark. Ware passed her national Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) certification exam through NHA at the end of August and is now working with her employer as part of the continued effort to bring additional COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S.

“I absolutely love getting up and going to work,” said Ware. “I feel like this job was designed for me. Also, I am currently a part of a COVID-19 vaccine study, and our biggest mission is finding an effective vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus. I love making a difference in others’ lives.”

Mrs. Ware, a former fast-food restaurant manager, was motivated to seek a career in healthcare when her mother was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Impressed by the care and compassion of her mother’s nurses, she realized that she, too, had a passion to help others and make a difference. She enrolled in a local medical assistant training program and began the process of studying for the NHA certification exam. Becoming an NHA certified clinical medical assistant is her first step on a journey to become an RN, and she hopes to start nursing school in the next few years.

“NHA is thrilled to acknowledge Curtrise as our one millionth certification earner,” said Mike Dahir, NHA General Manager. “Over the past 30 years, we’ve been empowering people to access a better future through certification in eight allied health professions. This is an important milestone for NHA as it represents the millions of lives impacted directly and indirectly through certification,” said Dahir.

NHA celebrated by providing Ware with a cookie bouquet, a $500 Amazon gift card, and a special, framed certificate. TI Scrubs, of Kansas City, Missouri, also gifted Curtrise $100 worth of scrubs to show its support for healthcare workers on the front lines.

“Bringing skilled and passionate people into healthcare is mission critical right now, so we are honored to join NHA in the celebration of one million allied health certifications,” says Natalie Busch, TI Scrubs CEO.

Ware offered words of encouragement for others interested in pursuing certification and a career in healthcare: “For those considering a career as a CCMA, I would definitely tell them it’s a great start, especially if you’re interested in the healthcare field but not sure exactly where

to begin,” she advises. “I always kept a positive attitude and remembered why I wanted to come into this career field.”

To learn more about the field of allied health and what it takes to become nationally certified, visit the National Healthcareer Associations’s website at

About National Healthcareer Association®

Since 1989, NHA has been partnering with allied health education programs, organizations and employers across the nation to award more than one million allied health certifications. The organization offers eight nationally accredited exams, certification preparation and study materials, learning resources, industry-leading outcomes-based data analytics, as well as ongoing professional development and continuing education for its certification holders. For more information, visit

NHA is a division of Assessment Technologies Institute, LLC, a leader in providing technology based educational, assessment, testing and certification solutions for healthcare and other vocational fields.

Media contact: Erin Venable, National Healthcareer Association 816-384-4634 or [email protected]

Zumba And Strong Nation Receive Spirit Of Fitness Award

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) recognized Zumba and Strong Nation with its first Spirit of Fitness Award during their annual Optima Fitness and Wellness Conference.

Laurie McCartney, president of Global Fitness & Wellness Solutions for Ascend Learning, the parent company of NASM and AFAA, presented the award to the Zumba and Strong Nation communities as part of Optima’s welcome keynote address.

Outside of its fitness platform, Zumba’s network of instructors and customers participants are actively involved in outreach campaigns. This year, Zumba partnered with The Global FoodBanking Network to deliver more than one million free meals to families impacted by COVID-19. Zumba also raised over $5.7 million to support philanthropic causes including the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Augie’s Quest for the cure of ALS.

Alberto Perlman, CEO and co-founder of Zumba, accepted the award and said, “When stay-at-home orders were first put into effect in March, we made it our mission to keep people moving, not only for a physical release but as a way to help with the stress and anxiety due to the Pandemic,” said Perlman. “Our incredible instructors around the world never missed a beat, learning the ins and outs of technology so they could deliver amazing virtual classes and eventually teaching outdoor classes to keep their communities moving and connected, continuing to create joy in a time where we all have needed it the most.”

As part of the Spirit of Fitness award, NASM and AFAA will provide 20 scholarships that Zumba will share with its instructors to support its commitment to continuing education.

ClickSafety Wins 2020 Occupational Health & Safety New Product of the Year Award 

New Online Training Provides Intensive COVID-19 Prep for the Workplace 


ClickSafety, Inc., an Ascend Learning company, was recently honored by Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) magazine, taking home an online training award for its new course, Returning to Work: Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 in the Workplace.


 “This year, we are recognizing outstanding products in 26 award categories, including a new category for products created to protect against infectious diseases.” OH&S Editor, Sydny Shepard said. “Now more than ever, it is of the utmost importance to keep workers and employees safe from emerging and existing workplace hazards.” 


The Returning to Work: Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 in the Workplace online training is an awareness-level course designed to inform employees and their coworkers about essential ways to protect themselves from exposure to the virus. The training is based on guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS), and other reputable sources. 


Designed to meet a need in the marketspace, the Returning to Work: Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 course is applicable for workers in all industries who may have a potential for risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. 


This new online training course from ClickSafety is one of multiple courses providing essential knowledge and fundamental training regarding COVID-19 and its effect on multiple industries. Additional courses in the COVID-19 catalog include COVID-19 Return-to-Work: Concepts for Employers, Supervisors, and Managers and Return-to-Work for Supervisors and Managers for Construction. 


“We are extremely honored to be recognized for best online training product by OH&S. ClickSafety helps businesses build a comprehensive safety culture and the pandemic has challenged what it means,” said Tim McClinton President of Ascend Learning Professional Education Services. “It was of paramount importance to provide our customers and their employees the training they need to implement safe return to work policies.” 


This is OH&S magazine’s 12th annual New Product of the Year contest, and ClickSafety joins the ranks of businesses, like ZOLL Medical, KEEN Utility, and Bradley Corp as a winner.  


About ClickSafety: Founded in 1999, ClickSafety became the first OSHA Outreach Training Provider to deliver both the OSHA 10-Hour and OSHA 30-Hour safety training courses online. ClickSafety employs an in-house team of Certified Safety Professionals (CSP), Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIH), and additional industry professionals to provide the most up-to-date online safety training courses available.  

Employee Spotlight: Ada Woo

From her home office in Iowa City, Ada Woo, senior director of assessment sciences focuses each day on making information, time and decision processes more efficient in the Assessment Sciences Unit, which is a shared service department within Ascend Learning. She works with a variety of teams and their business unit partners to create value for stakeholders like ATI Nursing Education and National Healthcareer Association. She loves that since she’s only been on the job for about five weeks, no two days have been the same so far! When the weekend arrives, Ada is excited to spend time with her husband and six-month-old son.


Q. What is your favorite thing about the business unit or department you support?

A. I love the variety of assessment and learning products that are a part of the ATI Nursing Education and National Healthcareer Association offerings.


Q. What’s your favorite Ascend value and why?

A. Embrace change. I was impressed with how quickly Ascend adapted to meet stakeholders’ needs in the pandemic. That was actually one of the reasons why I chose to join the company about two months ago. Now as a part of the team, I am even more impressed with our agility and willingness to embrace change.


Q. What book, movie or television show would you recommend people read or watch?

A. I read Educated by Tara Westover recently. It is such a compelling autobiography! Born to isolationist parents, the author did not receive any proper schooling as a child. She taught herself algebra, self-studied for the ACT, and got into college! As a first-generation college student, a part of Tara’s experience resonated with me. Education changed her life; it changed mine too.


Q. What’s something you’ve done that most people haven’t done?

A. I moved from my hometown in Hong Kong to Alabama alone at 16 to be an exchange student. It was a wonderful experience and an adventure for sure. I love the food in Alabama. In the 90s, regional American cuisine was totally unknown in Hong Kong. Imagine the joy when I had pulled pork sandwiches, fried okra, and pecan pie for the first time. Through sharing meals and cooking together, I met many friends and learned the culture of my new city. To this day, Southern cooking still brings fond memories and it remains some of my favorite food.