Charlyn's parents immigrated from China and Taiwan and met while earning their MBAs in New York City, where Charlyn grew up. She attended the Dalton School and Stuyvesant High School before being admitted to Penn. The Huntsman Program was the perfect choice for Charlyn, since she knew that she wanted to be involved in government policymaking and eventually work in the international arena. She was a member of Navy ROTC during all four years of college, and after graduation, she was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.
Charlyn attended Navy Supply Corps School to study naval logistics and finance in Athens, GA for six months. While at school, she was selected to report at Naval Reactors, the headquarters for naval nuclear propulsion, to manage shipbuilding contracts. Charlyn has been with Naval Reactors for over two years, negotiating, awarding and administering contracts for the overhaul and maintenance of aircraft carriers. She also attends Georgetown Law School in the evenings and finds that both her Law classes and the skills she learned in the Huntsman Program are very applicable to her current work: dealing with the House and Senate Armed Forces Committee and getting appropriations from Congress for defense contracts.