What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you? Why do you think it is important?
AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and take stock of the challenges facing the community. While AAPIs are achieving greater prominence in many fields, such as politics and entertainment, there are still too many areas where AAPI representation is lacking. While AAPI votes often provide the margin of victory in elections, not enough attention is paid to the policies that matter to the AAPI community. The recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes also highlights that despite our accomplishments, AAPIs are still viewed by some as outsiders in this country.
Who or what inspired you to work in public service?
My father emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s and quickly developed a love of the American political system. He took me on my first visit to Capitol Hill when I was 8 years old; when I was 10, we watched the 1976 presidential debates together. My dad also believed in the value of public service. As an electrical engineer at the Defense Department, he thought there was no better way to give back to his adopted country than by working for the federal government.
What advice can you give to folks beginning careers in public service?
Be nice to everyone, especially to junior staff. The recent college graduate who answers phones in a congressional office might be the chief of staff in a few years.
Find good people to work for and stick with them. I’ve been blessed with mentors who’ve helped me navigate my career. While I’ll never be able to repay my mentors, I try to pay it forward by helping young people who are beginning their careers.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
When you start a new job, think about what you want to have accomplished when you eventually leave the job. Write that down on a piece of paper, and periodically check to make sure you’re making progress on your goals.