“My arrival in Orlando was the culmination of several years and steps in a long journey from China/Hong Kong to America,” says Dr. Puxiao Cen. Fortunately, her lineage itself had well-prepared her to absorb any culture shock: Though she’s Chinese by birth, she grew up with a Spanish Guatemalan grandmother, in a family that stressed the importance of diversity and honoring different life perspectives. “My father epitomized that ideal and set an example for me to follow,” she says.
The family carried that spirit with them when they came to America in 1992. Once on our shores, Cen passed the medical board, which enabled her to secure an internal medicine residency at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital in 1995. A cardiology fellowship followed at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.
“Each step along the way showed me a different aspect of America and deepened my appreciation for the diversity that this country has to offer,” she recalls.
After searching the country for medical groups to join, she ultimately settled on Orlando, which she says immediately felt like home because it had friendly people and “all of the benefits of a larger city, but with a small-town feel.” She has been an invasive cardiologist with the AdventHealth Medical Group since 2001 and is also an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine.
The City Beautiful affords Dr. Cen numerous reminders of home, including Chinese New Year celebrations, dragon-boat races, and authentic Chinese food on offer at restaurants and grocery stores along Colonial Drive. Those resources come in handy whenever her son comes home from his own medical residency training at the University of New Mexico and they can catch up over some dim sum.
“Even though I was born and raised in China/Hong Kong, this is where I found a place to build a life, raise a family, contribute to the community, and enjoy the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” she says. “Central Florida is the place where I feel peace in my heart and soul.”