Half of Winnie Cheung's 16 cousins went into medicine. The other half went into art, says the designer of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee's interior.
"I knew I wanted to be in art when I was young, but I didn't know where," said the Hong Kong native, who immigrated to the United States with her family at age 7.
She had no interest in automobiles until her second year of college in California, when she was assigned to draw, of all things, a spaceship.
"I couldn't imagine myself drawing cars," Cheung said of her first experience with transportation design. But, she said, "from that moment on, I loved it."
Cheung interned with DaimlerChrysler in the summer of 2006, getting her first hands-on experience with the company's small-team development process. She joined the company in the fall of 2007 after graduation. Her first assignment was a midcycle refreshing of the interior of what would become the 2011 Dodge Journey.
"It was intimidating for me to be a new designer, fresh out of school doing this work," Cheung said.
But her design landed her a top spot on the interior team for the 2012 Dodge Dart, the first product developed by Chrysler with its new partner, Fiat.
"That was fun because it was designed from the ground up," she said. "You work with the team and come up with innovative solutions to problems."
Among the unique designs created by Cheung's team was the Dart's innovative "floating island" -- a light strip that surrounds the instrument bezel and sets it apart visually from the rest of the instrument panel.
Later she led the interior team for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the first Jeep to be based on a Fiat platform. When the SUV was introduced at the 2013 New York auto show, Cheung said she was in the back of the crowd, shaking with nervousness.
"You put so much hard work and sleepless nights just to see it come out," she said. "It's a very overwhelming moment."