University of Houston professors and students are accustomed to Christine Ha’s creativity in the classroom. For the past few months, they had the opportunity to witness her imagination and resourcefulness in the kitchen.
Her professors in the Creative Writing Program weren’t alone in watching her work magic with food. The world tuned in to watch Ha cook her way to win FOX Television’s “MasterChef” competition.
Ha, a master of fine arts student in UH’s noted Creative Writing Program, had been participating in the popular cooking reality show since June. She was the show’s first legally blind contestant. On Sept. 10, she entered the finals opposite Josh Marks and emerged victorious following her preparation of a Thai papaya salad, braised pork and rice dish, and coconut-lime sorbet. Her grand prize included $250,000 and an opportunity to publish her very own cookbook.
“I can’t believe that I’m the MasterChef,” she tearfully said during the broadcast. “After all the obstacles I’ve been through, going up against such awesome, amazing cooks. This has been the most amazing experience , seriously.”
Ha earned fans around the world for her weekly cooking feats, but some of her biggest supporters were the professors who groomed her as a fiction writer at UH. Here is what they had to say about Christine and her victory:
- Antonya Nelson, Cullen Foundation Professor of English: “Christine in class was much like Christine on ‘MasterChef’ – gracious, poised, humble, generous, and with a great sense of dignity and humor. I have always been supremely impressed with her unwillingness to make her disability a factor in her pursuits. She simply moves forward gracefully, beautifully and tremendously successfully. I could not be happier for her latest (though not last) fantastic victory.”
- Robert Boswell, Cullen Foundation Professor of English: “Christine is a talented writer, an intelligent and tactful critic, and a great colleague in any workshop or class. Everyone thinks the world of her, and we all have been rooting for her to win the competition.”
- Chitra Divakaruni, Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Creative Writing: "What I remember most about Christine is how determined she was. She wouldn't let anything stop her from achieving her goal, and she worked extremely hard to make it happen for her. I am delighted at her success."
- Alexander Parsons, associate professor of English: “Christine, in her optimism, work ethic, and talent, is a model of the writers that define the Creative Writing Program at UH.”