Professor profiles life of Chinese revolutionary and women’s rights activist


Lucy Vang

Doctor Mona Siegel discussed the story of Soumay Tcheng. Tcheng advocated for women’s rights throughout her life.

As an appreciation for Women’s History Month, a California State University Professor shared the story of China’s long-forgotten female peace delegate Soumay Tcheng on March 25 in the Winn Center.

Doctor Mona Siegel said Tcheng was considered the “Modern Mulan” because legend said the actual story of China’s great hero Mulan was Tcheng’s role model, and was the reasoning behind her brave actions.  

“It took a lot of researching about Asian women particularly in the 1920s and 1930s to began piecing her together, but I knew that I was on to discovering a part of history that needed to be told,” Siegel said.

Siegel began the lecture with a brief history of Tcheng’s family background and what kind of individual she was growing up.

“Tcheng was the rebel and troublemaker in her family growing up,” Siegel said. “She only got away with a lot because of her family’s wealth.”

Siegel said Tcheng was sent to American missionary school after refusing marriage, where she later volunteered to help in the Revolutionary War and found her passion for defending women’s rights.

Jocelyn Montoya, a 20-year-old psychology major, said hearing Tcheng’s story was inspiring.

“Her story really channeled my inner femininity,” Montoya said.

Though the story of Tcheng’s brave actions inspired female students, it also inspired male students as well.

“I would never have the guts to pull off the things that she did,” said Saahd Kumaar, a 23-year-old engineer major. “Smuggling guns and standing up to men who were in higher power than she was makes her that much more awesome.”

Smuggling guns and standing up to men who were in higher power than she was makes her that much more awesome.

— Saahd Kumaar

Siegel ended the lecture with two book giveaways that share similar stories to other empowering women in history.  

History Professor Diana Reed said she encourages students to attend more on-campus history events to educate themselves on topics that they may not have much knowledge on.

With the rediscovery of Tcheng’s inspiring story being fairly new, Siegel said she is hoping to bring it back to life and make it a part of history again.  

“Often times a lot of women are erased from history, so sometimes learning about an individual woman can help restore those voices,” Reed said.