Gladys Liu was a 20-something international student when she told friends she planned to walk into The Flower Drum, Melbourne's famed up-market Chinese restaurant, and ask for a job.
"They all looked at me and said, 'yeah, right'," Liu recalls. "I had no qualifications.
"And half an hour later, I came back and said, 'I got the job'."
It wasn't the last time the Hong Kong-born speech pathologist would be underestimated.
Persistence, she would discover, pays off in politics. Her long journey to Canberra is testament to that.
Liu had fought half a dozen bruising Liberal Party preselection battles over 16 years before finally contesting the seat of Chisholm, in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, when all hopes of retaining it seemed lost at the May 18 election.
Her victory, after the seat was abandoned by former Liberal MP Julia Banks in a blaze of controversy, was in retrospect even more miraculous than the Morrison government's itself.
She fought accusations of homophobia, of political trickery and of disparaging remarks towards other minority groups.
Even those from within her party, who warn of her "ruthless ambition" and propensity for controversy, concede she never gave in, despite the relentless political attacks from inside and out.
The 55-year-old will make her first speech to Parliament on Tuesday, outlining her story of being a foreign student, waiting tables to get by, to being the first elected Chinese-born Australian woman.
As a child she helped raise her younger siblings while her parents ran a convenience store more than 30 km away.
As a teenager her school friends thought she was "snobbish" and "rude" because of the cultural shame attached to telling people she was completely deaf in her left ear.
She says many people, particularly in Asian communities, "suffer in silence" when it comes to disabilities. She wants to tell them they should not feel ashamed.
Despite these hurdles she studied music at school and became a member of the Hong Kong Youth Symphony Orchestra. She sings and plays trombone.
She moved to Melbourne in 1985, to study speech pathology at La Trobe University, arriving with two suitcases and "a determination to succeed".
"I knew nobody and nobody knew me," she says.
She became an Australian citizen in 1992, one week before the birth of her first child and raised both of her children as a working single mother.
She joined the Liberal Party despite, she says, "offers from both sides".
"The Chinese culture of being hard working, supporting businesses... family values, reward for effort. The Liberal Party policies and values resonates so much with me," she says.
Active within the party at both a grassroots level and later as a multicultural adviser to former premier Ted Baillieu, she long ago became a cult figure within the notoriously factionally divided Victorian Liberals.
She does not want her ethnic background to define her career as a parliamentarian.
"I look a bit different. I also have an accent, but at the same time, I don't want people to see me as just a Chinese Member of Parliament," she says.
"The historical part is significant, but I'm prepared to advocate for all people in Chisholm."
She mentions with a sense of pride that both her son, Derek, 27, and daughter Sally, 24, will be too busy to join her in the House of Representatives for the occasion.
The first is studying a masters of business at Harvard in the United States, the other is representing her country at Ultimate Frisbee, in Shanghai.
But her 87-year-old father, Siu Ping Liu, will be among her supporters in the chamber, with her mother "looking down from heaven".
She wants to continue to speak up for the benefits of multiculturalism, publicly and within the Coalition, noting she believes the values of many migrants align with those of the government.
"I really want to make sure all people, especially migrants coming to the country, feel part of this country," she says.
"And not only enjoy what the country has to offer, but also make an active effort to contribute."
- SMH/The Age