Susan Siaw

I was raised in Gardena, a small city within Los Angeles County. During my growing up years, Gardena had a sizeable Japanese-American population. I attended school with many Japanese-Americans in my classes, and my family was very involved at a Baptist church that had mostly Japanese-American members. My parents were loving and strict. Those of you in my developmental psychology classes who are reading this will say, “Hey Siaw, your parents had an authoritative, not authoritarian parenting style,” and I would say, A+! Going to college at the University of Southern California was a dream come true, but it was also culture shock after growing up in the bubble of Gardena’s Japanese culture. I was shy and nervous around my professors. I am sure most were very kind, but due to my lack of confidence I found it difficult to approach them after class or to visit them during office hours. I really missed out! I love music and was in the band all through middle school and high school. USC invited me to join its band, and one of my regrets is that I was too insecure to try it out. Whenever I watch a USC football game today and see the band on the field during half-time or hear the band play “Fight On!” after every touchdown, I kick myself. I really missed out! My French professor invited our class to her home for a party. I remember thinking that it was cool to be invited to a professor’s home. I also remember that my dad drove me to the party and sat in the car and waited until the party ended. Why? Because I did not get my driver's license (I failed it on my first try) until two weeks before my first semester at USC. My entire freshman year, I did not feel confident about driving, and I felt less confident about driving to my professor’s home at night (remember, this was way before GPS and cell phones!). What to do to build my confidence??? Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Sam Chetti were the two Baptist chaplains at USC during my undergraduate years, and they invited me to many Bible studies, social activities, dinners at their homes, and weekend conferences. I was not their most faithful participant, but the events I did attend provided needed community and reminders of how my life could be spent for purposes beyond selfish ones (I think my lack of confidence stemmed from my focus on myself) and beyond what I could dream of or imagine. In retrospect, Dr. Miller’s and Dr. Chetti’s one-on-one counsel plus events they offered played a role in getting me out of my Gardena bubble and in building my confidence. Today’s college students seem much more mature and sophisticated than I was at their age, but paradoxically, the developmental psychology research suggests that today’s typical college student experiences more of a sense of instability and feelings of being “in-between” and has less religious faith than previous generations. Do you agree? I would love to connect with you and hear your thoughts on these provocative research findings.

My Life

Favorite Quote

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Friends describe me

Dependable, detail-oriented, and nerdy

My hobbies

Playing the piano

Fantasy dinner guests

Everybody! I would like to more hospitable like Rosaria Butterfield

Best advice I ever received

Do your best!

My undergrad alma mater

University of Southern California

My worst subject in school


In college I drove

1972 Datsun 210 and a 1977 Mustang

If I weren't a professor, I would

be a piano teacher

Favorite books

Gospel of John, Francine Rivers books, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Favorite movies

Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice

Favorite city

Any where on Kauai or Singapore

Favorite coffee

French Vanilla Iced Coffee at McDonald's

Nobody knows I

met my future husband in an elevator in Lexington, KY

My latest accomplishment

Learned how to teach online during COVID 19 sheltering in