In Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping claimed that she became a graduate student at University of New Mexico after a year of studying English. On Pages 61-62, she wrote:
After completing the English as a foreign language course in a year, I was able to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and enroll as a full-time graduate student at UNM. I knew by then that I didn't want to study literature, but what should I pursue? ...
Computer programming was a new field of study in the early eighties, and there were almost no women interested in it. I was accepted as a computer science master's student even though I had no prior course work in the subject. Nearly everyone was starting from scratch, just like me, which helped me to keep up.Then, on Page 66:
Less than one year away from completing my master's degree in computer science, I dropped out of the University of New Mexico.The Earlier Story:
In Drifting Bottle, she was (perhaps intentionally) vague about the level of computer science program she entered (Page 67):
There is a lot of freedom studying in America, students can make their own choices on changing majors or schools. I originally entered the master's program in the College of Arts of University of New Mexico. But I felt that it is ridiculous to study Chinese literature in America and I wasn't interested in English literature. So I decided to change majors. I went to College of Engineering and found that computer programming is closest to literature. Writing programs is a kind of art, it's logic is close to writing articles.
I applied for Computer Science and was accepted without much trouble. My adviser gave me a long list of courses I had to make up, most of them in math and physics...
University of New Mexico has now confirmed that Fu Ping enrolled in that school as an undergraduate student. She was never a graduate student there, not to mention close to completing a master's degree.
Her own description above is also consistent with this fact. "Nearly everyone was starting from scratch" obviously applies to an undergraduate major. By the time students enter a graduate school, however new the major is, they should have already had a solid foundation for it.
Fu Ping had little to none math background by her own admission. It would be quite incredible for UNM to accept her as a graduate student in computer science right away.
It's not clear why Fu Ping needed to claim herself as a graduate student at UNM and then dropping out of there to enter UCSD as an undergraduate student of the same major later. It's truly puzzling.