Article Written by: Manu Shah
Photography by : Bijay Dixit, Unique Photo Images
“Every woman has a story to share.”
With these words, IACCGH President Elect Joya Shukla welcomed the women who had gathered to hear two inspiring women speak about their lives and journeys – Y. Ping Sun, Rice University Representative and Asha Dhume, President of Club 24 Plus. The event titled Women Mean Business Series is an only-women event organized by IACCGH to encourage women to share their success stories and achievements with other successful women and in the process learn from each other. Past speakers include Malisha Patel, COO of Memorial Hermann, world renowned author Chitra Divakaruni and Dean Latha Ramchand. The event was held at the Hess Club on 29th April and attended by 60 women.
Nandita Harish, wife of India’s Consul General of Houston was also present and “proud to represent India” in Houston.
Introducing the first Speaker of the evening, Asha Dhume, President Elect Joya Shukla described her as a great community leader . Motherhood made Asha put her own career as a financial advisor “on pause mode” – a decision she never regretted. It was only after her children moved to college that she “seriously introspected and reflected” on her future course. She wanted to make productive use of her time and the question that confronted her was “how to become not just a cog in the wheel but the force behind the movement.”
Asha found her answer working for numerous charities like Pratham, Club 24 and Turning Point and describes them as a “fulfilling experience.” According to her, there are intangible benefits when you do charitable work – you work for something you truly believe in, meet like minded people and learn new skills. She also feels blessed to have “met selfless individuals with a big heart” and this motivates her to do more.
While introducing Keynote Speaker Y. Ping Sun, Joya Shukla reflected that listening to inspiring women such as the two speakers of the evening helps you “discover yourself too.”
A native of Shanghai, China, Y. Ping Sun came with all of $30 to the US. A full scholarship to Princeton University helped her graduate cum laude with an AB degree after which she received her law degree from Columbia University School of Law. Every year she supports Princeton “so that someone like her can also come to Princeton.”
Describing the move to Houston in 2004 when her husband David Leebron became Rice University’s seventh President as “a great adventure,” Y. Ping Sun expressed the fact that she felt very welcome and this spurred her to give back to the community.
She also spoke about the 3 P’s that “served her well” in her journey – Passion, Preparation and Perseverance. Citing an instance of her persistence, she recalled how the Ministry of Education in China would not issue her a permit to join Princeton. Undeterred, she visited their office every day until they had no choice but to relent and sign the permit papers.
Y. Ping Sun also thanked Sushila Agrawal, who was among the attendees, for facilitating the Leebrons’ visit to India and laughingly divulged that she has two saris in her wardrobe.
At the end of the talk, the attendees were invited to introduce themselves to help them get to know each other better.
Speakers to be featured in this signature IACCGH series will include NASA Scientist Sabrina Singh , ABC Channel 13’s Sonia Azad and Houston Philanthropist Gina Bhatia.