May 18, 2016//
Meet Elva Pai Adams '95. By day, Adams is the vice president of business banking at Wells Fargo. By night, she's a martial artist with more than three decades of Taekwondo experience.
I am grateful for the opportunities UTSA gave me – as an international student and as an immigrant.”
– Elva Adams '95UTSA alumna, Olympic Taekwondo champ
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Adams began training under Taekwondo master Raymond Hsu at age 13 and immediately fell in love with the sport.
"Taekwondo is the type of sport you can begin at any age and still excel at with training," Adams said. "It's a matter of dedication and having the right mentor."
Just two years into her training, Adams earned her black belt. Six months later, she was representing Chinese Taipei, under the name Pai Yun-Yao, on the international tournament circuit. By 1987, the then 16-year-old captured the gold at the World Taekwondo Championships. A year later, she took home the bronze at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
"The Olympics is the eventual dream for many serious martial artists," Adams said. "It was a great experience. But, truthfully, the World Championship matches are the ones that I remember the most. I fought my heart out to obtain that gold medal."
A few years after the Olympics, Adams began to think about life beyond competitions.
In the early 1990s, she took the award money she earned from competing and moved to the U.S. to pursue her American dream.
"I wanted to concentrate on my education, but I wanted the right educational opportunities for me as an international student," Adams said. "That's how I ended up in San Antonio and at UTSA. That's where I found a new arena where I could shine."
Adams chose to attend UTSA because of its strong reputation for supporting international students. While a student, she did everything she could to immerse herself in the college experience.
"I wanted to become a model student and experience life as an American college student," Adams said. "At UTSA, I met so many new people who in their own way helped me learn about myself and realize my goals. It was an adjustment that really helped me come into my own as a person and adult."
As a Roadrunner, Adams realized she had a knack for mathematics. She says her UTSA professors were instrumental in nurturing her talent. They also introduced her to professionals in the industry, allowing her to grow a sizable professional network by the time she graduated with her bachelor's degree in accounting in 1995.
Those connections helped Adams begin her career with Wells Fargo. And she's grown with the company. She currently serves as a vice president and business development officer.
Despite a busy schedule, though, Adams remains an active member of the UTSA community, often attending alumni events to stay connected to the university. She considers herself a proud lifetime UTSA alumna.
"My time at UTSA prepared me for the next level of my life and career," Adams said. "The people I met were great. They helped me figure out what I wanted to do beyond graduation. I am grateful for the opportunities UTSA gave me – as an international student and as an immigrant. Soon I hope to give back to UTSA by helping establish a UTSA Taekwondo Club to help cultivate a love of the sport in future students."
Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.