Professor May-lee Chai: Free to Dream

Monday, September 24, 2018
Photo of May-lee Chai

THE KEY REPORTER (PHI BETA KAPPA) -- But her multi-disciplinary education began much earlier, when she was an undergraduate at Grinnell College. An advisor guided her through the distribution requirements in the liberal arts curriculum, ensuring that she would eventually be eligible for Phi Beta Kappa.

“Then I became aware of the significance of Phi Beta Kappa both culturally and academically,” she said. “And I’m so very grateful that I had a good adviser who looked at me that way.” Chai was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Grinnell in 1988.

Now she has the chance to advise students herself, as a Creative Writing professor at San Francisco State University. For her, the classroom serves as a community of writers, a place to talk craft, and a window to the stories her students are writing. Those are particularly exciting, she says, because they’re the stories no one’s ever read before.