Christen Ng (front right) was selected student of the week at Idyllwild School in March of 1995 with fellow classmates Meghan Jones (now Carey) and Kelly Schlenz. Town Crier file photo

“… I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started… This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country… You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.” – President Barack Obama in his farewell speech on Jan. 10, 2017

In this new regular feature, we highlight the accomplishments of our own young people, the kids who grew up in these mountains. We’re reconnecting to hear about the incredible things they’re doing locally and out in the world. 

This week we catch up with Christen Ng, who now lives in Chicago with her husband and son …

Christen moved to Idyllwild in 1991 with mother Joanna Lam. Joanna worked at Granny’s Pies and did odd jobs around the Hill (from pet and house sitting to cleaning to outdoor work.) Her father, Michael Ng, worked in medical malpractice insurance but did not live in Idyllwild.

Christen went to Hemet High School for her freshman and sophomore years, but graduated from Choice 2000 online charter school (in Perris) in 1999. By then, she had moved to Chicago and was taking classes online.

After high school, she earned a Bachelors of Science in Information Systems from DePaul University, then went to work for Chicago-based nonprofit The Cara Program, which serves those affected by poverty with workforce development training, placement and retention services.

She left The Cara Program to pursue graduate school abroad, earning an international MBA from Webster University, an accelerated international program where she lived and studied in The Netherlands, China, Thailand, Austria and Switzerland.

Upon return, she worked as the director of Data and Impact at Ingenuity, an education reform nonprofit focusing on arts education in Chicago Public Schools.  At Ingenuity, she worked on data analytics  and public policy surrounding arts education in Chicago Public Schools.


What is your current occupation?

I currently work as a project management consultant for Rush University Medical Center, managing a tech team to implement an open-source learning management platform for Rush’s Medical College.  I also serve as vice president of the United Nations Association of Chicago, charged with strategic capacity building for the organization’s outreach, education and advocacy programs that connect UN priorities and Sustainable Development Goals to a local, community level.


What was special for you about growing up in Idyllwild? Please share one of your favorite childhood Idyllwild memories.

What was most special for me was being surrounded by uninterrupted nature, a close-knit community and a sense of freedom.  There was always an adventure to be found with minimal restrictions or oversight.

Some of my favorite memories are walking to town after school, following the creek to the back of the market, visiting the grotto on a hot summer day, a quick trek up to Dome Rock, sneaking out of the house and going on midnight walks with friends, and of course, the Candy Cupboard and Squirrel’s Nest.


A recent photo of Christen (left) with friends Jennifer Cailles and Nam Vo at Ravinia (an outdoor music festival in Chicago). Photo courtesy christen ng

Who were your Idyllwild mentors?

My favorite teacher was Ms. Carratello. She had a strong sense of commitment to all her students, valuing us as individuals by recognizing and championing our unique talents and contributions. Overall, she always exuded a deep kindness.


Do you have any advice for the younger generation of Idyllwilders?

I have been very fortunate to travel to nearly 80 countries across seven continents and meet people from many cultures and walks of life.  While it may seem that we’re inundated with news about how bad the world is, with many horrible things going on, my experiences have given me reason to believe otherwise.

On the whole, I find that the world and its people are inherently kind. My advice, given this premise, is to act accordingly.

Do you know an Idyllwild kid with an interesting story? Please email your suggestions to Halie: [email protected] or PM us on Facebook.