Y. Ping Sun was born in Shanghai, China in 1957. She was raised by her grandparents in Tianjin, China because her parents worked in the military and frequently moved around the country. For secondary school, Ping was selected to attend a special school for foreign languages, where she studied English. She went on to become a member of the first group of Chinese students after the Cultural Revolution to take the college entrance exam in 1977 and be accepted into a Chinese university. Before she graduated from the Beijing Languages Institute, however, Ping was accepted into Princeton University, where she attended the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 1981 to 1985. After an internship at a law firm during her junior year of college, she decided to become a lawyer and attended Columbia Law School from 1985 to 1988. Ping's first job after law school was at an international corporate law firm in New York called White & Case, LLP. After four years there, she moved to France for a year during her husband's sabbatical leave. When she returned to New York, Ping worked at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, LLP, another international corporate firm. After working there for eleven years, she moved to Houston when her husband became the President of Rice University. Ping now serves as a University Representative for Rice and is of counsel at Yetter Coleman, LLP. She is on the board of several nonprofit organizations where she represents Rice to the greater Houston community.