Jie Willey oral history interview and transcript
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Jie Willey was born in Hangzhou, China in 1957. Her parents were professors at Zhejiang University, and she and her older brother grew up on the university’s campus. When the Cultural Revolution started in 1966, universities were shut down. Willey’s parents were separated and sent down to the countryside to undergo so-called “re-education.” When Willey was seventeen, she was also sent down to the countryside along with other children of university faculty members. After the death of Mao Zedong in 1977, universities reopened and Willey took the medical school entrance exam, failing by only one point. As a result of her near-passing score, she was permitted to work at the medical school as a teacher’s assistant. In 1986, Willey moved to Houston after being accepted into the University of Houston’s pharmacy program. She worked as a waitress and housekeeper to save money for her education and ultimately entered the nursing school at the University of Texas, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Oncology Nursing while working at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she is now an Administrative Director of Protocol Research. Willey lives with her husband, Hugh, with whom she has one daughter.
This recording and transcript form part of a collection of oral history interviews conducted by the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University. This collection includes audio recordings and transcripts of interviews with Asian Americans native to or living in Houston.