In 2003, the South China Morning Post referred to then-18-year-old Eva Yoe ’08 (Art) as Hong Kong’s top woman golfer. The next year, she was competing in the prestigious U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship, alongside future golf superstars Michelle Wie and Yani Tseng.
As a teenager, Yoe said, it was her goal to become the first women’s golfer from Hong Kong to play on the LPGA Tour. She came close. Beginning in 2008, after graduating from California State University, Northridge, she played professionally in developmental leagues — the LPGA Duramed Futures Tour, the Canadian Tour and the Suncoast Professional Golf Tour.
So why is the CSUN alumna back in Hong Kong, golfing periodically, painting more and working full time for an animal rights organization?
With such diverse interests and multiple talents, doors opened, and Yoe has been quick to see what’s behind them.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to make a living doing what I love,” Yoe said. “Being an artist or athlete or working in animal welfare is a very unusual career path for most in Asia. It was a struggle when I jumped into the pro ranks right out of college, but it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world — and it was what helped me grow into the person I am today. If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have never thought I would be doing what I’m doing right now.”
Yoe golfed for CSUN as a senior in 2007-08 after transferring from Eastern Washington (2005-07). She led the Matadors in scoring average (76.88) and was named first team All-Big West. She had two top-10 finishes including a third-place finish at the Matador Spring Invitational and a fifth-place finish at Hawaii’s Kent Youel Invitational. She helped the Matadors to a third place finish at the 2008 Big West Championship. Her season scoring average of 76.88 ranks sixth for a single season in CSUN history.
She returned to Hong Kong in December 2011 intending to get her visa renewed, so she could come back to the United States and continue her pursuit of a spot on the LPGA Tour. In January 2012, she began working at a sports club. She stayed there until recently, when a friend suggested she apply for a job with the organization Animals Asia, a charity that works to rescue bears and end the bear bile trade in Asia.
Bears are captured and caged in parts of Asia with the intent of extracting their bile for use as human medicine. Animals Asia and other animal activism organizations, including World Animal Protection and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have reported that the bile is taken from captive bears in a cruel and painful manner. Animals Asia also works to end the trade of dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam, and it lobbies for improved welfare for companion animals.
Yoe was drawn to the organization because of her love of animals and her history of support for them. As a student, she worked for Pasadena-based nonprofit United Hope for Animals, an organization that supports animal shelters by increasing the visibility of animals through promotion and networking.
Yoe began working for Animals Asia in October as a development executive. She’s doing a little bit of everything — from planning educational exhibitions and fundraising events to major donor, corporate and foundation relations. She might be working on a school fundraising event one week, and planning a huge gala dinner event, grant writing or meeting with volunteers the next.
“I’ve always have a soft spot for animals,” she said. “It’s our obligation to help the animals, because we destroy their homes and they don’t have a voice to speak for themselves. And they shouldn’t suffer because of human, selfish reasons.”
The friend who suggested Yoe apply for the job was Amanda Wray, a former co-worker at United Hope for Animals.
“If we needed something, she would jump in and be ready to help. She was a really great spirit,” Wray said of Yoe. “She has a big heart, just a giving nature. She didn’t require a lot of handholding. She genuinely seemed to enjoy the work, the charitable aspect and dealing with animals.”
During their work together, Wray also discovered one of Yoe’s other passions: “She’s also a very, very good artist,” Wray said.
To make extra money, Yoe began selling her paintings. Some of her most frequently featured subjects were rescue pets.
“I’ve seen only a few pieces,” Wray said. “She was super modest about it. I think she could easily pursue a career as an animal artist.”
Yoe is devoting less time to golf these days, but still loves the sport and hasn’t given up on it as a career pursuit. However, she said she wants to make an impact for animals, and it appears that the connection between animals and art is leading her down a different path. Yoe said she is preparing a solo art show, with bears as the main focus. As to what the future holds, Yoe was uncertain.
“We’ll see where life takes me,” she said. “I really don’t know. I would like to keep playing golf. I would like to start playing again part-time and keep working in the animal welfare sector.”
Luckily, her wide interests give her some unique options.