Humans of Westridge: Assistant to Lower and Middle School Emma Ho’o


Masami Hansen

Ms. Emma Ho’o, Westridge’s Lower and Middle School Assistant, poses in front of Madeline Court in a vibrant green jumper.

Emma Ho’o is an interracial adoptee, a lover of Anthony Bourdain, and Westridge’s Lower and Middle School Assistant. Born in Peru, she was adopted as an infant by a white British woman and a Chinese-American. She grew up in Southern California. “That is very much a part of my identity, and my identity struggles, because I lived most of my formative years with my mother. Having that European upbringing has its ups and its downs,” said Ms. Ho’o.

Ms. Ho’o admitted that former President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric was an eye-opening experience for her. “I didn’t really understand a lot about race relations, or how I kind of fit into this kind of American idea. Until, Donald Trump started, you know, doing his thing. I kind of had my first like, explicit instances when people started saying things to me,” she continued. 

With much of her upbringing spent with her mother, she traveled to various countries in Europe, including England, Wales, Ireland, and eventually Denmark. Because her mother was in the process of publishing a children’s book, and found a publisher in Denmark, Ms. Ho’o and her then spent a month living there. While living in Denmark, Ho’o earned herself an internship at an award-winning zero-waste restaurant called Amass. With a strong interest in sustainability, Ho’o originally planned on working three weeks in their garden, but in her second week, the kitchen had little staff and she was summoned into the world of food preparation.

Ms. Ho’o described her experience at the restaurant: “It was exhausting. But it was a really great experience. And while I was there, with a few hours that I wasn’t sleeping, I would go and make friends.” While she only stayed in Denmark for a month, she fell in love with the people and culture, and continues to visit when she can. 

Westridge has also been an integral part of her life for many years. Her stepdad, Thompson Chen, who is a Network Administrator, and her mother, who served as a school nurse, both worked at Westridge. When she was a child, she would participate in Physical Education classes with students including current Physical Education coach Allison Clark ’07. When a position opened up in the Commons, she took on the opportunity. Dr. Zanita Kelly, Head of Lower and Middle School, eventually took notice of her and offered her the role of Lower and Middle School Assistant.

Ms. Ho’o is now in her second year of her assistant role, and while she loves working at Westridge, she has other goals for her future. She shared a list of things she wanted in her future, and it included a six-figure income; a healthy, long-term relationship; the security of owning her own home; a career in organization, change, strategy, and design; and more.

While Ms. Ho’o is truly an open book, not many people know much about her. Here are a series of rapid fire questions to help you get to know her better:

What would you like to tell your younger self? “What do you want? Just focusing on what you want and focus on getting it? Because you are the only one who can control yourself. So focus on that.”

What is your favorite part about working at Westridge?

“My team.”

 What are some interests and hobbies that you have?

“Cooking, eating. I do like writing. I should get back to that more. And the gym. I like to lift heavy things.”

What’s something people wouldn’t know about you?

“I feel like I’m such an open book with the people that come across me. I don’t hide a lot. I guess maybe something that people don’t know about me is that I feel like I’ve got it together. And there’s that perception that I got it together. But I wasn’t always like that. And I had to do a lot of stuff to figure that out to get here.”

What are some of your go to TV shows and movies that you like to watch?

“I’ve loved the Jeffrey Dahmer series. I like a lot of scary stuff. I listened to, you know, the true crime things on YouTube. My current favorite is the Serpent Queens.” 

What if you could do five things in your bucket list right now? “I’d like to go to Cornwall to explore a little bit more on the British Isles. I’d like to buy land and have essentially a small working farm and have some property. And one of those tiny homes that’s already kind of built and plop it on land. I’d love one of those. Then I would like to maybe go after a PhD if I had the time and money.”

How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?

“Oh, I would outlive everyone. I’m small. I can fit into small places and tall people are very easy to trip. And I have a killer smile. So I can be very tricksy. It’s about survival. I’m not going to be the most ethical to say oh, hey, look over there. There’s something special about zombies.”