Kwong Yih Kum, who was born in 1893 in Guangdong Province, graduated from St. John’s College and Tsinghua College, and then came to the U.S. with the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship in 1910. He enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Chicago respectively, before he transferred to the University of Minnesota in 1914 as one of the first three Chinese students at the University. Kwong graduated from in 1917 with a bachelor of science in mining engineering. While at the University, Kwong—also known to use the first name Harding—was a member of the YMCA, Cosmopolitan Club, and School of Mines Society. He was one of the founding members of the Chinese Student Club and played on the University’s soccer team as a halfback.
After graduation, he was employed as a chemist at the Iroquois Iron Company based in Chicago until 1919 when he returned to China and changed his name to Kuang Zhao’an. He firstly served as an engineer at Kailuan Coal Mining Company, and then he ran a private mine in Datong, Shanxi. In 1937, Kwong was hired by Heshan Coal Mining Company as a chief engineer in Guangxi. In 1939, he played a critical role in transforming Heshan Coal Mining Company to Heshan Coal Mining Cooperation Limited.