Tuesday, January 17, 2017

First Chinese student at Western Reserve Academy

As Hudson, Ohio, is such a small town with far-reaching arms, so to is Western Reserve Academy. Family visitors to WRA are always pleased to hear historical information surrounding our beautiful school. Recently, this was realized again, as a prospective student and his family were quite appreciative of our historical story surrounding WRA's first Chinese student.

Tien Wei Yang at the time of his graduation from WRA, June 1941
We welcomed Tien Wei Yang (1921-2012) to Western Reserve Academy in 1938, who had come from Tientsin, China, to escape the Japanese invasion which had destroyed his school. Both of Tien Wei's parents had been educated in Indiana, but they did not know about this school. They sent Tien Wei to a friend in western Pennsylvania who knew about our school and made arrangements for young Tien Wei to attend. He was warmly welcomed to our campus, and even though a bout with tubercolosis put him back one class because of his illness (he was treated at a special hospital, then returned to campus), Tien Wei graduated with the Class of 1941. At WRA he was a top scholar, an outstanding soccer player, and a winner of the Bicknell Prize as a senior. He went on to Oberlin College where he completed a degree in biology.

Biology teacher Tien Wei Yang with student Jim Kaufman '62, taken in the classroom in 1959
Tien Wei Yang eventually earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona and spent a long and successful career as a teacher and research scientist. He returned to Western Reserve Academy in 1952 as a teacher of biology and soccer coach, and was here for 14 years, leaving in 1966 to teach in Arizona. He was a winning coach in soccer and continued a great interest in the WRA soccer teams for the rest of his life. In 1991, in time for his 50th class reunion, he was awarded The Waring Prize, a top award for an alumnus of our school. He came back to address the student body at that time. Tien Wei Yang died at age 90 in 2012.
Tien Wei Yang as part of the 1939 wrestling team at WRA. He is fourth from left in the back row.
Tien Wei Wang at Western Reserve Academy in June, 1991, after being award The Waring Prize