Charity of Choice: The Library Foundation
Occupation: President, Rose Diamonds Custom Design & Repair
Spouse: Ossi Choi
Children: Joseph Choi, 13; Jackson Choi, 6
What’s your favorite feature about yourself? Why?
My short memory. I was once told it was my best feature. I tend to forgive and forget easily. Life is too short to hold grudges about the past.
When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?
I remember being fascinated by Connie Chung. Growing up, there were not many Asian role models to look up to. I liked that she was very professional and commanded equal respect from her co-anchors.
What’s your favorite source of inspiration? How does it inspire you?
Books. I read. A lot. Fiction, non-fiction, short and long—I love it all. I love going to a bookstore or a library and being able to visualize a different place, time, lifestyle or point of view. It gives me a feeling of limitless possibilities, and it opens doors to new ideas. Once you have a new idea, the sky is the limit on what you can achieve with it.
Fill in the blank: Friends would describe you as “The ______ One.”
My friends said The Classy One. I would say The Focused One.
What is your charity of choice, and why is it important to you?
My charity of choice would be the Library Foundation. Going to the library was one of my favorite outings growing up, as I obsessively read all of The Boxcar Children books, in order. At this moment, I have 22 items checked out from the library, and they range from books on photography and business to historical novels and books and DVDs for my boys. Growing up in Springfield, I have seen our library system expand its collections and develop new programs for children and adults that have made a positive impact on people from all backgrounds. I am proud of the variety of programs our library system has for children and adults. The Library Foundation was founded to enhance the Greene County Public Library’s mission of providing the people of Greene County with the broadest possible access to knowledge, ideas and information, and to support them in their pursuit of learning. The Foundation has provided funding to build the library’s collections, to expand technology and to support library programs, including the Summer Reading Program, cultural initiatives and early literacy and school readiness programs.
“With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one—but no one at all—can tell you what to read and when and how.” âDoris Lessing
What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
An easy smile. Life is short. I think there is a magnetism to people who are able to appreciate the humor and joys of life.
Why do you think you’re a 10 Most Beautiful Women finalist?
My friend is an excellent writer. She is able to see the best in everyone and eloquently express herself.
Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations?
I love to help others. I support a variety of charities and organizations through the jewelry store. Our business has created custom designs that have been auctioned and raffled off for local organizations including the American Cancer Society, the Springfield Ballet, Temple Israel and Cox Health Foundation. As the founder of the "Right on Republic" business association, I work with other businesses in the community to promote local small businesses through cross marketing and combined events. This year, I am working with the Girl Scouts and other organizations in the area to educate girls interested in owning their own businesses someday. I also volunteer as the treasurer of my homeowners association. I enjoy getting to know my neighbors and working together to solve issues in our neighborhood.
How are those experiences meaningful to you?
My family has experienced hard times in the past, and I feel very blessed that we have been able to overcome a lot of obstacles. In my position as a custom jeweler, I have the opportunity to meet people during some of their happiest moments. Conversely, as a pawnbroker, I have the heartbreaking position of helping people during their darkest hours. When people are going through hard times, whether family or financial, it makes me appreciate how lucky we are in the United States to enjoy all of the opportunities available to us.
I have two sons, and it is my goal to teach them, through my example, that change in a community comes from people pitching in and getting involved. For example, my most recent donation to a local school’s spaghetti dinner fundraiser won’t be featured on the front page of the newspaper, but I find that our donations to small organizations are equally as important to the community as our contributions to large charities.
Tell us what you do for a living:
I am a custom jeweler/GIA graduate gemologist at Rose Diamonds. I help people create the jewelry they have always dreamed of, engrave special names, logos and sentiments on cherished jewelry and repair their treasured rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my family. Through all the ups and downs of life, my family has always been a comfort to me. I would not be who I am today without them. When they succeed, I succeed. When they feel joy, I feel joy. They are my top priority.
What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome?
Having the perseverance to keep working toward our dreams. Being a business owner is not always the glamorous life people envision. We did not inherit a legacy store. Our first jewelry business started with one bag of silver that we lovingly tucked into the safe each evening. A lot of people told us that our location was bad, our inventory was limited and we were not going to make it. To continue moving forward despite the naysayers was our defining moment. My husband and I learned to trust each other and to trust God’s plan for us.
What are three words that describe you?
Parent, curious, nerd.
What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?
Throw away society’s ideas of beautiful and embrace what God gave you. Learn to accept your body. Come to terms with the fact that women will always be judged by our physical appearance to some extent. This is life. Remember that physical beauty can be fleeting, and our true beauty comes from within.
What are your favorite ways to spend a day off work?
I usually do glamorous things like laundry, but since moving back to the Ozarks, our family has developed a love of camping and fishing. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than spending time with the family enjoying the beauty of the Ozarks.
What is your most prized possession?
My iPhone. Portable reading, tracking kids’ locations, keeping an eye on the security cams at work, OCD weather checking, translator and Angry Birds! All-in-one fun.
What is your Facebook status right now?
I posted some pictures of a trip I took with my oldest son. We were on a business trip to Singapore and South Korea. It was my son’s first international trip, and it was a pleasure to introduce him to the unique customs and food of Asia.
If you could have one talent that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
To slow down time. I imagine there would be a million other projects I could complete with more time on my hands. Gardening projects, decorating projects, field trips, etc. Also, I feel like my sons are growing up too quickly, so there are times I would like to savor my time with them. I would also have more time to read.
What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?
My first kiss was from Wayne Newton. While he was performing in Branson, I played violin at his theater, and he kissed me in front of the whole audience.
If someone made a movie of your life, what would it be called?
I imagine it as a comedy about marrying someone from a different background. Perhaps a new version of Lost in Translation.