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Anna Yen ’91

Join the discussion from August 5th to October 7th as our book club reads Sophia of Silicon Valley

Anna Yen '91

Anna Yen '91

1. How did you end up at Santa Clara University?

To be honest, SCU hadn't even been on my radar but my parents wouldn't allow me to go past something silly - like a 50 mile radius away from home - so I visited. It had not been my first choice to start, but once I met some of the students and saw the campus, I knew it was where I wanted to be.

2. Who was your favorite professor and why?

I will never forget Professor Jane Ou - she was my favorite. Professor Ou taught accounting and she was very effective at making complicated accounting principles understandable and digestible. And I know I'm not alone when I say that accounting can be really dry, but somehow Professor Ou made the classes interesting, and sometimes even fun.

3. What is your favorite memory of your time at SCU?

That's a really hard question because I had so many amazing memories at SCU. Truly, for me, every day was a joy and that was because of the friendships I made and the different experiences the school offered. If you really pushed me to pick ONE memory, I'm not sure I could share with you - not in writing anyway. I was a bit of a derelict back then.

4. Where did you live while you were a student?

I lived in Swig and then in Dunne, then the Stucco house (and I was an honorary member of the Brown house).

5. What was your favorite Benson food?

The chicken patty sandwiches! Deep fried goodness.

6. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A fashion designer. In my yearbook, I wrote "The next Anne Klein" and then someone told me afterwards that Anne Klein was dead.

7. What inspired you to write your first book?

A few things inspired me to write Sophia of Silicon Valley. First, I wanted a format that might help young people learn from the lessons I'd learned after working for some of the most fascinating people in the world. These were stories and experiences I especially wanted to share with my young nieces and nephews. Second, Steve Jobs had passed away and a profile of him was being developed that was very different from the person I'd known. With my book, I'd hoped to give people a more personal peek into the man that changed the world.

8. What challenges did you encounter when you wrote Sophia of Silicon Valley?

Sophia of Silicon Valley is a fictionalized compilation of the trials and tribulations of the life of Anna Yen and I initially wrote it as though I was simply telling someone the story of my life. But then trusted (and unquestionably, smarter) friends who read the transcript kept asking, "What's the arc?" I didn't even know what an arc was! I am in finance for goodness sakes! It took me a while but I finally think I got it down.

9. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is the same as it is to all people - persistence pays off. And I don't mean you should be persistent by doing things the way they've always been done. What I mean is that being persistent in a bold and different way will usually get you where you want to go.

10. What are you reading or writing about now?

I just finished "Secrets of Happiness" by Joan Silber.

11. How has your time at SCU shaped your life today?

I've lived through some of the most unbelievable health challenges - I mean, I'm a complete medical miracle. I would have never been able to get through any of that without the warmth and love and support of the community of SCU friends that I have.

12. Is there anything you would like to share with the Bronco community?

Broncos rage! Like I said, I was a bit of a derelict.


Aug 20, 2021