CSUSM alum writes memoir detailing life after stroke


Photo courtesy of Alfred Chu

CSUSM alum Alfred Chu (‘07) suffered a stroke at age 28, but used the experience to write a memoir.

Jose Valdovinos, Staff Writer

After graduation, students are sent out into the world to either apply what they learned in their job or to improve their skills through a master’s program.

However, at a moment’s notice, a student’s plans can be sidelined, putting a stop to their ambitions and forcing them to attend to whatever thing life has thrown at them. 

CSUSM alum Alfred Chu’s plans to pursue a career in journalism were halted when he suffered a stroke in 2010. Now residing in Taiwan, Chu is currently undergoing physical therapy and medical treatment.

“I started as a communication major, and I always enjoyed writing. I wrote for the Miramar Community College newspaper, so it seemed logical to write for the San Marcos newspaper,” Chu said. 

Chu wrote for The Pride (the previous name for CSUSM’s student newspaper) from 2004-2006, where he focused on writing for the arts & entertainment section, covering movies, television and documentaries. 

After his graduation in 2007, Chu moved to Hong Kong to improve his Mandarin Chinese. He had learned the language since childhood, but hoped to improve his mastery of the language in order to land a job in China.

However, it was during this time that Chu began to suffer from constant headaches. “Weeks before [the stroke], I had headaches that caused me to barely wake up in the morning,” Chu said. “Little did I know, constant headaches were a sign for a stroke.”

These headaches persisted, and before long, Chu suffered a blood clot on the right side of his head that led to a stroke, causing him to be wheelchair-bound at the age of 28.

“The stroke postponed all my plans indefinitely,” Chu said. “At that point, I didn’t know what kind of job I was going to get; I didn’t even think writing was one of them.”

However, after his second surgery, Chu began writing a memoir that detailed his medical experience. The memoir, Stroke: Recovering from Human Errors, covers his life before and after his stroke, detailing his struggles and efforts to regain control of his life.

“[Writing a memoir] was something that just occurred to me,” said Chu. “How many people do you know that had a stroke at 28 years old? No one in my family had ever had a stroke before. I was the only one.”

Chu hopes to inspire readers with his experience. When asked about the central message of his memoir, Chu said, “The main message of my memoir is ‘don’t give up, keep trying.’” 

“There are always going to be people that will help you, and there are places out there that can help,” he added.

Chu also hopes to use his memoir to become a motivational speaker so that he can inspire a wider audience to never give up.

By partaking in physical therapy, it may be possible for Chu to walk again with the assistance of a cane or walker. Chu also applied for freelance writing assignments, though he is still waiting for a response.

Though he had a negative experience, Chu turned his medical struggles into a positive experience through his memoir, so that he can inspire others to continue to move forward like he has done.

To learn more about Chu’s story, read Stroke: Recovering from Human Errors, which is available on Amazon and Google Books. 


Jose Valdovinos is one of two video editors at The Cougar Chronicle. He is in his third year as a literature and writing major and is also minoring in video production. After graduation, Jose plans on entering the film or television industry as an editor or cinematographer. Jose enjoys working with computers, writing and video games.