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Hong-yi Chen was born in Shanghai, China. She was sent to the countryside by the government during China's Cultural Revolution, and worked as a farm girl for eight years in a small village in northeast China. Hong-yi studied economics at Fudan University from 1977 to 1982. After having earned a master degree, she taught economics at Fudan for 7 years. In 1989, Hong-yi came to the United States, and she earned her Ph.D. degree at U.C. Berkeley in 1997.
It has been Hong-yi's dream to develop an economics program that educates young students to love economics, not because it could lead to good paying jobs, but because it would enhance their ability to make a contribution to the human society we live in. SUA gives her a group of great students to bring her dream to fruition and she deeply appreciates it.