A Conversation with Michael Hwa

Michael Hwa
Assistant Clinical Professor

Michael Hwa

Belated Happy Father’s Day! How did you celebrate, having recently become a first-time parent?

Thank you! Having a baby girl has completely changed my life. It really has been an incredible experience to share with my wife. We took a nice three-day road trip down Highway 1, stopped at Morro Bay, and enjoyed the ocean and seafood. Then our baby got to meet her great-grandmother down in Orange County for the first time. Although it was Father’s Day, I got to play chauffeur while my wife cared for the baby in the back seat!

Is it too early to tell how your parenting style differs from your own parents? What would you gladly do “just like dear ol’ dad”?

It’s probably still too early. Our baby is just about to turn three months and I still can’t believe that we created something so utterly cute. My wife sends photos to my cell phone when I’m at work just to let me know what I’m missing at home. My dad was probably the disciplinarian between my parents. Both of my parents really pushed me to excel in school but it was my dad who’d stay up with me and go over my homework every night, like it or not. I definitely appreciate it more now. One thing that I’m definitely doing differently than my dad is that I can actually change a diaper! My dad never learned that skill, according to my mom. I like to tell my wife how lucky she is, but then she just gives me the stink eye…

You were born and raised in the Santa Clara Valley, were you not? Can you describe the neighborhood where you grew up?

Actually I was born in New York in Queens, and then we moved to Connecticut and lived there for a few years. But I grew up in Fremont, in the East Bay. I’d have to say it was the picture of suburban life. It was where I met my best friends, and we still hang out to this day. Funny thing is that my wife, baby, and I may try to settle down in my old hometown. I’m trying to mold my baby into my own image, so that’d be a good start…

If you were a rocker, in which band would you like to play for just one night?

I’ve been learning to play guitar for the past 15 years or so. I wanted to be able to play the guitar since I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan play on Austin City Limits. I also love classical and flamenco guitar, but when I first started playing I fell in love with the blues and classic rock. The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton are some of my favorites.

I see plants in your office. Do you like gardening? What kind of garden might best express your personality?

I actually do enjoy gardening. We have mint, thyme, oregano, sage, orange, and lemon trees. The crowning achievement of my garden, though, is my compost tumbler. I like to credit it with decreasing the amount of garbage that we throw away. It’s really made a huge difference in how well our herbs grow. My wife likes to credit it, though, with making the backyard smell and filling it with flies.

Of the seven virtues, which best describes your way of being?

I guess it would have to be temperance. People who’ve met me definitely know that I’m not one to show a lot of emotions. Even in high school I was known as being pretty even keeled, to the point of being called stoic. It actually works well for me, as my wife and I are exploring Buddhism, and the Middle Path, as a philosophy and way of life.

Can you share the appeal of gaming to a novice like me? Are you someone who is a whiz at games and, if so, what kinds?

I grew up in the 80s, which was the golden age of video gaming. I grew up with Super Mario Bros. and the Legend of Zelda. These days, video game technology and art direction have matured to the point that they really can be a form of art, almost like an interactive movie. I’d say I’m a pretty quick learner with video games. I definitely don’t have the reflexes that I had when I was younger. It’s embarrassing to get owned by a 12-year-old online.

If I were to ask your wife what she thinks is the cutest thing about you, what might she say?

I think she’d say it’s when I try to dance, “try” being the operative word. I love to listen and to play music, but having two left feet is a real disability. She loves it when I try to dance the cabbage patch or the running man. It mostly looks like I’m having a seizure. It’s pretty much determined that my wife will teach our daughter how to dance.

Thank you, Mike!

- by Oralia Schatzman

View Michael Hwa's professional bio | See previous faculty interviews