Alumni Spotlight: Quanhong Cho Qiu, 2018 Cottrell Distinguished Alumni Award Winner



Miami University Master of Gerontological Studies (MGS) '01

Quanhong “Cho” Qiu, executive director of Compassionate Community Care in San Francisco, received the W. Fred Cottrell Distinguished Alumni Award in April 2018.

Qiu discussed her career in gerontology with us and shared advice to current students who are studying gerontology.

How did your gerontology education at Miami contribute to your career?

I give full credit for my successful career to my gerontology education. I wouldn’t have today’s success without the wonderful education and support I’ve received from Scripps. It has enabled me to successfully launch Compassionate Community Care (CCC) and keep it growing to serve many people in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m forever grateful for all the tremendous support from Suzanne Kunkel, Bob Applebaum, other faculty, my fellow classmates, and Scripps.

How did you turn your passion into your career?

My passion is to help and serve others. I wanted to help elderly people maintain or improve their quality-of-life after my personal experiences with my father. My current position enables me to fulfill part of my passion by striving to do the best for our clients, employees, and the community. Knowing that we’re helping people and helping to better the quality-of-life of our clients are the most rewarding aspects of my career.

Do you have any suggestions for current students?

  • Focus on what is best for the elderly, family, and the community. Respect and honor their preferences. Help to do what they need and or want, not just do what you think is the best for them.
  • Have empathy for the elderly and others and try to put your feet in their shoes. When you put yourself in their situation, it enables you to generate great compassion for them other than just showing sympathy and or feeling sorry for them.
  • Be open-minded. Open your ears and eyes to different ideas, cultures, and ways of work.
  • Listen carefully and be patient. This helps you to better understand your audience, communicate more effectively, to find solutions, and minimize obstacles and or conflicts.
  • Do not make assumptions. Most of the time your assumptions are incorrect. It enables you to better understand others and work better.
  • Let go of your ego. Having a strong sense of self can lead to conflicts, communication problems, and other issues that are easily avoidable. When you find obstacles everywhere, these are often caused by our own thoughts, ego, and or our own assumptions. When we let go of our own ego and be humble and compassionate, you’ll be much happier and have better relationships with others. You can help others better.
  • Be positive and stay calm when you experience challenges and or difficulties. Tell yourself you’ll work it out. Take a break, walk, or simply relax. Sit quietly a bit. You’ll be able to think more clearly and find a good solution.
  • See the positive side of everyone and everything, and you’ll be much happier.
  • Respect and compliment others. You’ll earn their respect and compliment, too. Help improve relationships with people around you because it makes your work easier. You’ll be happier.
  • Be persistent, perseverant, and tenacious. Don’t give up too easily, especially when you’re having difficulty.

What has been your career path in gerontology?

I interned as an administer-in-training at Asian Community Nursing Home in 2001. Then I helped to start a home care agency from scratch after I finished my MGS. I’ve been active in educating the community regarding the issues related to aging. As a panelist, I gave presentations regarding cultural diversity in health care and end-of-life care. I gave presentations and classes on practical tips on self-care. I was also interviewed on radio programs and in local newspapers regarding home care, long-term care planning, other aging-related issues, and healthy living. I came up with the idea of having a Community Health Fair over 10 years ago. It has been a successful event and became a popular annual Community Health Festival that helps to educate the community regarding resources available in the community, promote healthy living, and build an aging-friendly network and community. As our company has grown, we’ve noticed the huge need for geriatric care management. We’ve been providing all kinds of services and products to help elderly people and their families and to address their needs effectively. It enables us to help people from a much broader perspective which is very rewarding.

How did you first become interested in your current professional position?

The death of my father was kind of a wake-up call for me. I realized life is short. While I couldn’t do anything for my dad, I wanted to do something that could help other elderly people and make some positive impact in this field. Being an Executive Director, I have the authority to do mostly what I think are the right things to do. We support and honor people’s rights, choices and wishes, and help people age in place.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your career?

Knowing that we’re helping people and helping to better the quality-of-life of our clients are the most rewarding aspects of my career.

What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

The most challenging aspects of my career are: difficulty recruiting and retaining enough good quality caregivers; properly caring for clients with complicated conditions; balancing the cost increases for doing business; price increases for the clients; labor law, rule and regulation changes in the field; continuously growing business with the fierce competition; and clients who are not willing or able to pay for services.

What is a typical workday in your current professional position?

A typical workday includes: communicating with staff, colleagues, and clients; problem-solving; providing guidance, coaching, mentoring, and counseling to staff and clients; making plans for the day, week, and month; outreach and public relations; budgeting and financial oversight; helping with inquiries; facilitating assessments and intake; ensuring staff training and proper staffing as needed; and communicating with corporate officers regarding operation, human resource issues, and legal issues as needed.

How do you balance career and other aspects of your life?

I make every effort to take time to relax my body and mind, meditate, and to spend time with my husband when I’m off duty. I try to integrate meditation and spirituality into all aspects of my daily life. It’s very important to be busy in body but not too busy in mind. It’s easier to say than do. It helps to improve myself, keep myself calm, do the right things, and make the right decisions.

What advice do you have for someone considering a career or further education in gerontology or in a professional position similar to your current one?

Ask yourself twice if working with older adults is really a career that you want. It’s a career that needs someone who has a passion for this field. If you work for a start-up company or agency, be prepared to put lots of time and effort into it. There could be ups and downs. There could be more time, money, and effort needed than you thought to provide high-quality services. Persistence, perseverance, having a positive attitude, staying calm, being flexible, and focusing on what’s important will be helpful in the position.