Maxine Hong Kingston

Honorary Degrees


San Francisco State University​

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Maxine Hong Kingston is an author, memoirist, educator and fiction writer whose critically-acclaimed works have strengthened our understanding of Asian American identity, helping to shape our national conversation about culture, gender and race.

Drawn to writing from a young age, Ms. Hong Kingston won her first literary prize from “American Girl” for her essay entitled “I am an American.” Since then, she has spent her long and distinguished career writing about the cultural experiences of Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans living in the United States.

With her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Ms. Hong Kingston began her career as a high school teacher. A scholar and a teacher like her father, she eventually returned to UC Berkeley, where she is currently professor emerita.

Ms. Hong Kingston’s first book, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, was a global sensation, winning a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976. Four years later, she received the National Book Award for her second book China Men.

Honored with numerous awards, Ms. Hong Kingston is the recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award, the PEN West Award for Fiction, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the title of "Living Treasure of Hawai’i."

Two U.S. presidents have honored Ms. Hong Kingston’s work. For deepening the nation’s understanding of the human experience, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton in 1997. Sixteen years later, President Barack Obama honored her with the National Medal of Arts.

An activist fighting for social justice and inclusion through her teaching and writing, Ms. Hong Kingston embodies the spirit of San Francisco State University. She brought the Chinese American immigrant experience to life for millions of readers and inspired a new generation of writers to make their own unique voices and experiences heard.

In recognition of her distinguished writing career, her advocacy and her contributions to literature and culture, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Francisco State University are proud to confer upon Ms. Maxine Hong Kingston the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.