Being Small and Different

Question: What's the biggest obstacle you ever had to overcome?

Leroy Chiao: The biggest obstacle I've had to overcome. You know, I will say, I'm an American, I was born in the United States, I'm proud to be an American, I'm an American first. But obviously, I'm a Chinese-American. And growing up, my family, my parents, and I think rightly so didn't put us in Chinatown, didn't put us with our other ethnic group, but put us in mainstream America and that helped us to -- they're thinking was that will help us assimilate into the mainstream and be a part of it. And it did. But as a young person in a predominately white area, I was picked on quite a bit, and I was the smallest kid in the class because my birthday is in August, so I started school early. So, I was always the smallest kid. So, I had some real challenges growing up, especially in middle school. But I overcame all of that, but that was probably the biggest challenges was just getting through that time and getting a perspective.

You know, and to take something positive out of that, you know, it did give me perspective. It certainly gave me tolerance of other people, of other races, of other ethnicities and I think that's helped make me a better person.

 Recorded on December 16, 2009

Leroy Chiao had to overcome being picked on for his small stature and being one of the few minorities in his mostly white Midwest town.

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