Ruiyang Xiao

Rowland Adult and Community Education

Nominated in 2020


Ruiyang (Rui) Xiao graduated from the Hunan Institute of Engineering in China with a degree in economics. In 2014, her employer transferred her to Los Angeles to head a newly created branch. Rui, a single mother of two, was up for the challenge. Her work responsibilities were to manage the company’s finances and to report the financial details to the head office in Beijing. This was her first full-time job in America.

She said, “I was so afraid to communicate when I first came to America.” Since moving here in 2014, she focused on her career and on raising her two children. Now that her children have grown, she found herself with time to focus on her personal goal of overcoming her fear of communicating with others in English. In fall of 2019, she enrolled in a Beginning Low ESL class at Rowland Adult and Community Education (RACE).

During her fall class, Rui demonstrated outstanding learner skills. She was a dedicated and willing student. When the spring 2020 semester began in January, she continued with the Beginning Low ESL class and she enrolled in a Conversation class as well. She also encouraged her fellow classmates in the Beginning Low class to enroll in the Conversation class, and many of them did. I was impressed by how she encouraged her classmates to challenge themselves to meet their goals as well.

In order to add a second ESL class to her schedule, Rui had to make some career changes. She thought about her goal to communicate better with others in English, and she established an additional goal, to take an American finance class. She proved her dedication to her goals by making major changes to her very successful career. Rui quit her full-time job, where she was part owner. She joined a different company as head of finance. This move allows her to now work a part-time schedule of 20 hours a week and take two ESL classes. She hopes to develop her English well enough to take a finance class at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC).

Just as she was on her way to meeting her goals, RACE, along with much of the education systems across the country, moved to online learning in March. Rui’s son returned home from college. A family friend, also a college student, was unable to return home to China, so Rui welcomed him to shelter-in-place with her and her son. She takes care of both boys and keeps them well-fed with delicious home cooked meals daily.

Rui’s pursuit to help others does not end with housing a family friend. Rui has received shipments of surgical masks and gloves from friends in China. Rui provided masks to family, friends, and neighbors for free. Still, she found herself with an abundance of masks and gloves on her hands. After reading a news article about health workers being in dire need of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), she moved to action to help. She donated over 400 masks to a fire station in San Gabriel. She then contacted the head nurse of ICU Covid-19 at Kaiser Permanente, Irvine Medical Center to donate 500 masks and 150 pairs of gloves.

It is safe to say that Rui has overcome her fear of communicating with others. Additionally, she is using her newfound confidence and English skills to help others in the community who need help during these uncertain times. Rui has proven herself a true helper in her community. I am confident that she will meet her next goal of taking a finance class at Mt. SAC.

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