SJ alumnus Dr. YanYan Li continues to amaze, inspire in China by authoring books about his life, chiropractic
As the first blind Chinese national to earn an advanced academic degree, YanYan Li, D.C. (San Jose, ’05), completed an incredible journey and accomplished an amazing achievement when he learned English, moved to the United States, became the first student to pass the National Boards by completing a Braille version of the exam, and fulfilled his dream of graduating from Palmer College’s San Jose campus.
Since returning to China (a country of 1.3-billion people, and a very small number of practicing D.C.’s who’ve graduated from an accredited chiropractic college), Dr. Li continues to inspire and amaze in a variety of ways.
He maintains a chiropractic office in the prefectural level city of Chizhou (population of 1.5-million), located in the Anhui province, and recently shared his life story in an autobiography (written in Chinese) whose title translates to, “Overcoming Adversity,” which has sold more than 20,000 copies since published in 2013.
In addition to his autobiography, which is dedicated to his mother, Dr. Li has also written a book about the chiropractic profession, “American Chiropractic,” which has sold more than 2,000 copies since it was published in 2012.
Through charts, text and photos of Dr. Li demonstrating various adjusting procedures, the book is intended to educate the general population, as well as health care professionals in China, about the origin and development of the chiropractic profession, and the general health benefits of chiropractic care.
Dr. Li lost his sight to glaucoma at 19, which ended of his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. Faced with the prospect of limited income-earning opportunities as a visually disabled individual in China, Dr. Li pursued other career options.
He learned how to speak Japanese, in order to attend an acupuncture program that offered him a special scholarship. During his third year of the program, one of the guest speakers was a chiropractor, which piqued Dr. Li’s interest, and put the wheels in motion for his incredible journey from a small, remote village in China to the Silicon Valley region of the U.S., in 1999.
“It’s okay to change one’s goals in life, because there are times that we cannot achieve everything we dream,” said Dr. Li, whose father died when YanYan was seven years old.
First, he had to learn English (to converse, and to read Braille textbooks). Then, using the balance of his scholarship funds, and what he earned as an acupuncturist and Tuina/shiatsu masseur, Dr. Li settled in the South Bay area, where he completed his chiropractic prerequisites at Mission and West Valley community colleges, becoming the first blind student to use their Braille resources.
“I wanted to attend Palmer College, because Palmer is very famous; they are known as the best,” said Dr. Li.
While completing his studies at Palmer’s San Jose campus, Dr. Li was featured in a television documentary, “Touching Life,” produced for Chinese-American broadcasting by Global Communications, which showed the perseverance, determination and courage that has enabled YanYan to overcome personal adversities, and rise above his daily challenges.
In 2004, Dr. Li was honored for distinguished achievement with other Chinese national students attending U.S. colleges in a special ceremony at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco.
In addition to the patients he treats in his chiropractic office, Dr. Li has touched the lives of many individuals who are visually impaired in China. He’s particularly proud of his work with young children, with whom he has shared his life story, and led special workshops to help them learn how to read books using the Braille method.
Dr. Li’s desire to help others is fueled by the positive words of encouragement that enabled him to achieve his goals.
“My inspiration to study and work hard comes from not wanting to disappoint all the people – my family, my friends, my teachers, my classmates – who have helped, and supported me,” said Dr. Li.
That is not to say that Dr. Li hasn’t encountered a few doubters along the way. And each time, the pessimism ignited his desire to prove his doubters wrong, and to inspire visually-impaired individuals who may feel limited by their disabilities.
“I hope my autobiography will help lift them up, to achieve their goals, because the blind can do much more than is thought,” said Dr. Li, now married (Jianhui), and the father of a young son (Li Xianshan).
“Chinese people should know about chiropractic, because it’s a great health care system. I hope my book helps them know more about chiropractic.”
To contact Dr. YanYan Li: firstname.lastname@example.org.