BEIJING, Sept. 9 -- An obituary article published by The New York Times' "Overlooked" section tells the story of Margaret Chung, the first Chinese-American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States.
Born in Santa Barbara, California, in 1889, Zhang Mazhu wanted to be a medical missionary to China from the age of 10, a long-cherished wish from a missionary home told by her mother.
Religion is an important part of Zhang Mazhu's life in California. She grew up in a Presbyterian family in Santa Barbara, and her father insisted that the family pray before each meal and sing hymns with the children before going to bed.
When Zhang Mazhu graduated from USC Medical School in 1916 and applied three times to become a medical missionary to China, but was rejected, it was undoubtedly a severe blow to her. Although she was born in the United States, she is considered a Chinese that does not fund Chinese missionaries.
However, the pursuit of this dream has led Zhang Mazhu to another honor: becoming the first Chinese woman to receive a medical degree.
She then opened a private practice in San Francisco's Chinatown. It was one of the few places at the time that could provide Western medical services to Chinese and Chinese patients. In the context of the times, the Chinese were often seen as the source of epidemics and were therefore turned away from hospitals. The death of Zhang Mazhu's father was linked to this, and he was not treated after being injured in a car accident and eventually died as a result.
During the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World War II, Zhang Mazhu was praised for her patriotic performance as a doctor. She set up a social network in California for pilots, officers, celebrities, and politicians, which she used to recruit U.S. pilots for the Flying Tigers and indirectly influenced the formation of a naval organization called WAVES to support women in the Navy.
These efforts attracted media attention, which portrayed her as a representative of unity between the two World War II allies of the United States and China.
Zhang's school life was not all smooth sailing, as she did not finish grade 10 until she was 17 years old to help care for all 8 siblings. However, she was eventually admitted to the USC College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1911. Her biography shows that she worked throughout the university and sometimes had to wash dishes while studying textbooks on shelves.
Zhang Mazhu never married and died of ovarian cancer on January 1959, 1 at the age of 5. (End)