|“I find happiness by building relationships, not playing golf or driving a fancy car,” says Ta Siu. “Investing in friendship, that’s what I enjoy doing.”|
Ta Siu Knows how to get a great return on his investments.
As a young man in Hong Kong, he applied to just one university in the United States: Northeastern, in the heart of Boston. He earned not only his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but a master’s and Ph.D. as well — and he parlayed his knowledge into a teaching position there.
During his time on the faculty, Siu connected with a nearby medical device maker and learned the business. “I found it very exciting,” he recalls. “The company was on the cutting edge.” He and a few colleagues then ventured out on their own and created a thriving company that designed easy-to-use glucose monitors for diabetes patients. A licensing agreement with an industry giant followed.
But if you ask Siu about his most significant investment, you won’t hear about his company’s financial success or its latest research. You won’t hear about his avocation — East 180, a popular Chinese restaurant he owns in Diamond Bar.
You will hear him talk about people: his family, his friends and his community.
“I find happiness by building relationships, not playing golf or driving a fancy car,” he says. “Investing in friendship, that’s what I enjoy doing.”
It’s what inspired him to join the Rotary Club of Walnut Valley and reach out to veterans through the American Legion. It’s also what motivates him to support Cal Poly Pomona’s Partners in Education, or PIE, which assists future teachers in the credential program at the College of Education & Integrative Studies. The $5,000 scholarships that Siu provides allow student teachers to focus on the classroom during their clinical practice, rather than struggle to balance the demands of a job to support themselves.
“We all know that teachers touch so many lives throughout their careers,” Siu says. “No other profession has such a direct impact. Once I learned about PIE, I wanted to support it.”
Meeting the PIE scholarship recipients at the annual awards banquet made a lasting impression.
“It was very touching. For them to tell us how the scholarship has helped them was a special moment. Often, when you donate money, you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to meet the recipient.”
Siu, who lives in Diamond Bar near the university, became acquainted with Cal Poly Pomona and the PIE program while attending the annual Southern California Tasting & Auction, where he met President Michael Ortiz, CEIS Dean Peggy Kelly and others. The more he learned about the university, the more he liked it.
“Cal Poly Pomona has a learn-by-doing philosophy, which I can relate to. I didn’t go to business school, but being a small-business owner, I’ve had to do everything, and that’s the best way to learn things,” Siu says. “How can you play basketball just by reading a book? You can watch all the NBA games you want, but you will never be able to shoot a basketball if you don’t pick one up. There’s no question that Cal Poly Pomona’s philosophy is a very good approach.”
If you want to see Siu smile, ask him about his youngest of five children, Joanna, a fifth-grader who has attended Rotary meetings with him. “She brings such happiness to my life.”
Siu is teaching his children the value of service. Three of them joined him last year in Mexico at a Rotary-sponsored home-building project.
“We met the family. It was a very good experience,” he says. “It’s that kind of involvement — like helping PIE or a family in need — that I enjoy. It’s only a small step, but we can all help people around us.”
The College of Education & Integrative Studies prepares California’s future public school teachers through basic and advanced credentials, a graduate program in education and an independent doctoral program. It also offers programs in gender, ethnicity and multicultural studies; liberal studies; and interdisciplinary general education.
Funding of the college’s campaign goals will support early childhood education, scholarships and myriad programs that advance future educational leaders.
M.G. "Peggy" Kelly, Dean
Nicole Forrest Boggs, Director of Development