Of Yi nationality, Yan was born in Yun County, Yunnan Province. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from the Xian Foreign Languages Institute, one of the most well-known schools in China, in 2008. Following graduation, she returned to Yunnan and joined SIT’s staff. She has been student affairs coordinator since 2008 and homestay coordinator since 2013. Yan is a certified ACTFL OPI tester.