Priscilla Chan Is More Than Just Zuckerberg's Wife

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is back in the news. He and his wife have welcomed their first child, a daughter named Max. They've also vowed to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to good causes via the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. It's clear Priscilla Chan has made an important impact on her husband, and helped bring about even more altruism from the tech magnate. But what's important to know is that Chan is way more than just the wife of Facebook's head honcho.

Chan is a highly educated doctor who puts education and healthcare high on her list of priorities. The couple has already donated millions of dollars to causes which help provide equal opportunities to students, as well as provide health services to the underserved. It's through this vision that she launched The Primary School. The not-for-profit program is set to open in 2016 in East Palo Alto.

It was through education that Chan originally met Zuckerberg. The two attended Harvard at the same time, and though Zuckerberg eventually dropped out to focus on Facebook's phenomenal success, he still made quite an impression on her. They reportedly dated for almost a decade before marrying in 2012, in a surprise ceremony that was billed to guests as a celebration of Chan graduating from UCSF with her doctorate. As with the ceremony, Chan is full of awesome surprises.

1. She's A Pediatrician

Though Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, the school where he and Chan had first met, she continued her studiesm and eventually earned her doctorate in San Francisco. She completed her residency at UCSF, and is now a pediatrician. According to her Facebook profile, she has previously worked at UCSF's Benioff Children's Hospital.

2. She Was Her High School Valedictorian

Chan was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Quincy High School in Quincy, Massachusetts, having excelled academically, as well as athletically as a tennis player. Her 2003 graduation speech was based off of the quintessential Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You'll Go!.

3. She Used To Teach Science To Fourth- And Fifth-Graders


After graduating from Harvard in 2007 with a degree in biology, Chan began teaching teaching at the Harker School, a private elementary school in San Jose, California. It was after her stint teaching fourth- and fifth-graders science that she decided to return to school. Chan studied nearby at UCSF, completing her residency there and graduating in May 2012 — mere days before Facebook would go public with an IPO.

4. She Inspired Zuckerberg To Make Organ Donation A Facebook Cause

While Chan was completing her residency at UCSF, she and Zuckerberg would discuss the importance of organ donation and the significant difference it made in patients' lives. Chan repeatedly saw the efficacy of donating in action, as well as the need for more donors to be registered. This inspired Zuckerberg to use Facebook to better help users register to be organ donors. In doing so, Facebook even creates a timeline event celebrating people's commitment to saving lives.

5. She Developed The Primary School

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative established a school and healthcare program in East Palo Alto, California that is set to open next year. The program, which provides education as well as health services to underserved children, was spearheaded by Chan. She serves as The Primary School's founder and CEO.

6. She's Trilingual


Chan grew up speaking both English and Cantonese. She learned Spanish later in life as a means to better communicate with her patients. In a 2014 interview with The Today Show, Chan had this to say about learning a third language:

You can be a better provider and really connect better with individuals if you can speak their language, and so I started studying Spanish in college, and get lots of practice in my work.

7. She Came From Humble Beginnings

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Chan is a first-generation Chinese-Vietnamese American, and the first person in her immediate family to attend college. Her parents came to the United States as refugees in the late '70s. They would go on to open a successful Chinese restaurant in Boston, working 18-hour days to help provide for their children. Chan was primarily raised by her grandmother, due to her parents' grueling schedule.

8. She Has A History Of Being Altruistic

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While attending Harvard for her undergraduate degree, Chan volunteered at two different housing projects in the underserved Boston metro community of Dorchester. For five days out of each week, Chan acted as a mentor and helped at-risk youth with their studies.

9. She Enjoys "The Simple Things"

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Chan has been previously quoted as saying she enjoys the "simple things" in life, including board games, rock music like Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, TV shows like Glee and Project Runway, rowing, and bocce ball.

Images: J, MT Silverstar/Flickr