Ruby Hunter, MBA ’19, always knew she was adopted from China. “My mom was very open and honest about it. As I grew up, she answered any questions I had and always encouraged me to learn more about my Chinese background,” says Hunter, who was raised as an only child in Connecticut, primarily in Branford.
Hunter has a tattoo that playfully nods to her heritage with the text: “Made in China.” But she was never certain of her lineage. “I have always wondered if I was mixed … because being adopted from China doesn’t necessarily mean my parents were Chinese,” she says. Looking for answers, in November 2019, she completed genetic testing through 23 and Me. A month later, the results came in: Hunter is 100 percent Chinese — and she also has a sister, Leah Boedigheimer, who lives in Minnesota, some 1,350 miles away.
“It was surreal. You always hear about these kinds of stories, but I never thought it would happen to me,” says Hunter of the discovery. Initially skeptical, the two women communicated by text and online, and uncovered uncanny similarities. “Once I had connected with her and talked for a bit, I knew she was my sister. We are so alike,” says Hunter.
Like many siblings, the two share mannerism and physical traits. They also sound alike, despite being raised in different parts of the country. Hunter says both are night owls; love shopping, food, and dogs; and are “very straight forward and blunt.” Another tattoo also figures prominently in the sisters’ story. Each has a tattoo of the quote, “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, which translates as, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Clearly, the two women are motivated. “I work as a data analyst, and she is getting her master’s in health care analytics. I have my MBA from Southern. We are both driven and hard working,” says Hunter, who works in the Windsor Locks, Conn., office of Collins Aerospace, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp.
The sisters later learned they were adopted from the same orphanage. Hunter’s adoption story began in Hangzhou, China, where she was born in September 1994. Found at a bus stop, she was wrapped in a blanket, a note listing her birthdate attached. At the age of nine months, she was adopted by Mary Hunter of Seattle, a single mother who moved with her child to Connecticut.
Across the country in Minnesota, Leah Boedigheimer’s adoption story had similar twists. Born in 1995, she was discovered in a government building in China, her birthdate also pinned to her blanket.
On July 1, the sisters met in person for the first time at the airport in Detroit en route to a July 4 holiday visit to Hunter’s relatives. (Her mother had moved to Michigan in 2018.)
“We hugged and then went to grab a drink and catch up,” says Hunter of the sisters’ first meeting. She recalls feeling nervous but also a sense of comfort, a sort of homecoming, “like seeing someone you just haven’t seen in a while if that makes sense.”
RUBY HUNTER, MBA ’19, ON WHY SHE CHOSE SOUTHERN
WORKING WHILE LEARNING: “I liked that Southern was local and offered an MBA program that was accelerated that I could do while working.”
ON THE JOB: “My MBA definitely opened the door for me to work at Collins Aerospace. . . . Going to Southern while working helped me build my skills and learn while applying the school lessons to on- the-job training,” she says.
STUDYING WITH A COHORT: “It allowed us to really get to know each other and become friends. The class discussions were particularly helpful.”
BOTH WORLDS: “I liked how the classes were in person and online. I wouldn’t have been able to go back to school if it was all in person. I also didn’t want to do it all online, because I felt the social interaction was key. This was the perfect option.”