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  • Writer's pictureAjumma EXP

Ajumma Sue Ann: Baby Whisperer

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

AJUMMA EXP is proud to spotlight Sue Ann, a mother of 3, medical doctor, and musical theater enthusiast! When Sue Ann is not inspiring people to dream big, you can find this shameless book worm tending to her impressive book collection.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Michigan and have lived in Florida, Okinawa, Japan, Korea and now California.  I married my college sweetheart and we have been together for over 25 years.  My husband and I have one son together and two adopted children another boy and a girl.  Adoption has always tugged at my heart and our family has been blessed with two adopted children who complete our family.  I like to say (jokingly) that I have 3 baby husband, and the birth father of my two adopted children.

I was raised in a Korean-American home where we were spoken to in Korean but answered in

English.  I was a typical Korean child in that I was provided with piano, flute, and ballet

lessons, Tae Kwon Do lessons, attended Korean language school and Korean culture camp, and was expected to be a straight A student. I was a typical American child in that I played tennis and ice skated, attended sleepovers, crushed on Shaun Cassidy and Rick Springfield! I remember watching the original Star War and wanting to fashion the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle. Once I used a magazine cut-out to see how the hairstyle would look on me and was sad that I didn't have blond hair and blue eyes. While shopping with my girlfriends, I did a double take at a reflection in the window, wondering who that Asian girl is...not realizing it was me!  

What does being an ajumma mean to you?

Being an ajumma means being happy with who I am; being happy in my own skin. I love my "Asian-ness" and am happy that I am NOT that blond hair, blue-eyed girl I thought I’d see in the

window reflection.  Today, I embrace my wrinkles and gray hair.  In 2017, I participated in a “Faces of Silver” a photographic message that women get better with age and celebrating with pride the natural progression of age.  I don't want to be stereotyped.  My husband likes to say, "I am NOT a hyphenated American".  I AM an American who also happens to have Asian features.  I embrace my Korean-ness and my American-ness.

Ajummas are known to have super-human strength and abilities.  What is your secret Ajumma power?

My secret Ajumma power is that I am pretty good at quieting a crying baby.  My kids also claim I have eyes in the back of my head and that I have psychic abilities since I have dreams that sometimes come true!  My REAL ajumma strength is my optimism.  The glass is pretty half full for me.  I like to see the best in people and encourage their dreams.  I have dealt with patients with real poverty, horrible home lives but I feel that I can encourage them to be healthy, to rise above their circumstances, and to dream BIG.

What is one of the biggest challenges you've overcome?

The 90’s.  I decided later in life to become a pediatrician.  I graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and went to work in a Fortune 500 company.  I was miserable and realized that I wanted to make a difference in people's lives.  I decided to go to medical school and become a doctor.  I attended night classes to complete prerequisites to enter medical

school, quit my job at the Fortune 500 company and instead worked as a unit secretary in a hospital and then did drug research before I finally got accepted to medical school. 

Next, I got married during medical school and had my son after my second year.  My husband was deployed out of the country when our son was born and he didn't meet him until he was 4 months old.  I took a year off of medical school to raise him and then returned to finish school.  Residency was very challenging as my son was a toddler and my husband was often gone.  Working 100 hour weeks with call (night duty) every 3rd night was tiring to say the least.  I like to say that the 90's was my lost decade due to medical school, residency, new motherhood, and running solo as a new mom.  This resulted in unfamiliarity with a lot of the music and TV shows during the 90’s.  I came out of it stronger and I think, a better physician.  As for the 90’s, there’s always TV Land and Spotify to catch up!

Sage Ajumma advice? Words you live by?

I have a few words of advice.  a) Girls needs to know that they own their body and to love themselves; that they are not objects to satisfy the desires of others.  I definitely try to instill a sense of power in my female patients and my daughter.  b) I believe you can have a truly balanced partnership with your spouse.  My husband and I share domestic and career duties equally.  This enables both of us to focus on our careers.  c) A person can be both strong and tender.  I believe you can be a strong woman and tender mother.  I believe that being kind is not being weak.  I also am trying to raise my sons to be respectful, kind, empathetic and loving men.


Finally, what is your guilty pleasure?

I have many guilty pleasures but the ones I

enjoy the most are MUSICAL THEATER and reading books uninterrupted in my pajamas! I am a season ticket holder at Broadway San Diego and just recently watched Dirty Dancing and Hamilton.  I love to read and the best birthday was when my family and friends gave me over 50 books for my 50th birthday.  My favorites are anything from Jane Austin, Lianne Moriarty, and any juicy historical fiction.

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