Pam Tsai – Retired Scientist / Consultant and Tireless Volunteer

Albany, CA

My dream, someday not too far away in the future, is to have a Taiwanese American elected as President of the United States.

tsai.pam1Who are you?

I was born in Taitung during World War II when America was bombing Taiwan, a colony of Japan, and my family was fleeing from the city to a countryside area.  I grew up in Tainan and went to college in Taipei.  I am the youngest in the family with four older brothers.  My mother never went to school. My dad got only two years of education but he self educated himself by reading lots of books.  Two of my brothers went to college and I am the luckiest one in the family.  I attended four elementary schools, one middle/high school, one college, and four graduate schools, spending a total of 24 years in schools.  Coming to the U.S. was never in my plan, but I ended up in the U.S. for a reason. I eventually received my doctorate degree from Harvard School of Public Health, fulfilling a poor family’s dream.

What do you do?

It is an interesting path that took me from a horticulture major student to a registered dietitian and eventually to become a certified toxicologist. I credited that to the solid science background I built up in college. I used to work at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations, and an environmental consulting firm holding a variety of titles such as environmental scientist, toxicologist, program manager, senior science advisor, or manager. I worked with the EPA for more than 20 years working on abating air and water pollution, and evaluating potential adverse health effects from exposure to pollutants. After retirement, I devoted my time volunteering for a variety of Taiwanese Associations in the San Francisco Bay Area. I served as the president for the Taiwanese American Federation of Northern California and the East Bay Taiwanese Association in the past.  I am currently the president of the San Jose-Tainan Sister City Association.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a first generation Taiwanese who emigrated to the U.S.  I am proud of my heritage because Taiwanese have excellent personal traits of being honest, hard working, trust worthy, and intellectual. Taiwan has rich cultural background due to its unique history probably dating back to at least 3,000 years. Some anthropological evidence suggests that Taiwan may have a history of more than 20,000 years. Taiwan is a melting pot that was enriched by a variety of cultures. In addition to the diverse culture of aboriginal origins, Taiwanese culture was influenced by the Ming and Ching Dynasties, Dutch, Spanish, Japan, and more recently by China. Due to a diverse cultural background, the Taiwanese are more tolerant and more inclined to embrace diversity.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I hope Taiwan, our motherland, will soon become a truly democratic country and is recognized by the international community. My hope for the future America is to have strong voice in the Senate and Congress on the national stage as well as strong voice at the state and local levels. We need to have more Taiwanese Americans elected as government officers at the highest level.  My dream, someday not too far away in the future, is to have a Taiwanese American elected as President of the United States.

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