Min Min Tun
Seisen Class of 1981
There are moments and decisions in life that are transforming and life changing. My parents’ decision to send my sister and me to Seisen, instead of a Japanese public school, counts as one of those moments. They didn’t know it then, but the choice they made many years ago set into motion events that made me who I am today.
As I sat among my friends from Seisen at a reunion in London three years ago, laughing and talking with abandon, feeling at ease among women some of whom I have known since kindergarten, I was grateful again, for Seisen. Seisen provided friendship, values, self-confidence, support, emotional and financial, and most definitely an education.
Except for two breaks at 6th and 7th, and 10th grade (when our family was back in Burma), I was a happy student at Seisen. The teachers and sisters of Seisen are some of the most caring, loving and supportive people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. The self-confidence, values and knowledge I gained at Seisen was just what I needed as I left Japan to start college in the US.
My path in life isn’t a path that is straight or without detours. After graduating from Coe College with a major in chemistry (thank you Ms Armentia!) and a minor in French (merci Madame Plagnol!), I continued my studies as a graduate student at Rice University. I had a notion of contributing to the cancer field as a scientist at Bristol-Myers Squibb after my research of natural anti-cancer agents for my Masters thesis at Rice. Though I was inspired and admired greatly the efforts of the many scientists I worked with at BMS, after a few years, I felt that I could contribute to the health field in other ways.
I set my sight on a MBA and enrolled at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. What a change from the world of science, expected and unexpected. Upon graduation, I chose to continue my learning and exploration of the business world as a strategic management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group at its Boston office. When the opportunity came up to go back into healthcare, I took it and moved to California to join Gilead Sciences, now a leading biopharmaceutical company, most known for its HIV drugs. Back when I started at Gilead Sciences in Corporate Development (M&A and licensing), it had just launched its first product and the company still had a start-up culture. It was fun and hard work to keep reinventing myself – child, college student, scientist, graduate student, business woman.
I am, once again, at a different phase of my life. After leaving Gilead Sciences, I did some independent consulting in healthcare. Now I am a stay-at-home mother raising my two daughters in the San Franciso Bay Area. I searched extensively to find a school like Seisen for my daughters; a school that is warm, nurturing with a tight-knit community and good values. I did find such a school and we are all happy there but I realized that it is impossible to replicate what I had at Seisen.
I will once again be reinventing myself and I will rely on what I have learned from my family and from Seisen. I will always remember the strong women leaders like Sister Asuncion at Seisen and the many loving and caring teachers and staff who in the time of need of our family were always there to support us, encourage us and believe in us. It is largely because of the generosity and the strong foundation of academics and values, and the self-confidence developed at Seisen that I am who I am today.
In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child, besides unconditional love, is the gift of education in a safe, supportive, challenging and happy place. For me, that place was Seisen International School.