My interest in public interest began at a very young age. My parents immigrated from China young, educated, and very poor. I am a female minority, born and raised in Arkansas. As a result, I have personally experienced the many struggles that are included with language barriers, culture gaps, and lack of assimilation. Still, my parents insisted I earn a higher education-from which I would be able to truly gain perspective of social responsibility.
In college, while earning a degree in International Relations and Global Studies, I was fortunate to study abroad in Hong Kong, China. There, I realized how even the most minute differences in culture can result in a person's complete frustration and confusion. My abilities in Mandarin were futile in the Cantonese speaking society. My awareness of my own personal scope of reality was also extremely broadened as I witnessed an entire different country of people perceive the attacks of September 11 2001 on the U.S. It was then that I realized the importance of understanding government, my civil rights, and my duty to share that knowledge with others.
After college, I briefly worked in an entry level position at a large corporation. In such a basic level of work, I was taken for granted as a person, and ignored as an employee. Subsequently, I was solicited to partake in a class-action lawsuit based on sexual harassment committed by the corporation. I decided to forego the suit and apply for law school. This is where I began my legal career.
During my first year of law school, I worked for the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. At this Public Interest coalition, our mission was to identify underserved populations, such as children and elderly. Once identified, we were dedicated to remove legal barriers that prevent their access to opportunities and services by providing the resources and expertise to develop long-term solutions. Working under the Executive Director/Attorney, I had the privilege of drafting legislation to protect homeless children's access to public education; thus, we challenged the State's obligation to provide equal access for all children, including facilities, transportation, and even subsidized meals.
Realizing my passion for public interest, I inquired with New England School of Law faculty in hopes of finding other public interest jobs. The New England School of Law Clinical Program more than sufficiently offered me a beneficial transition into client-based social change. I worked for two solid years at Greater Boston Legal Services, staying on full time during the summers. I was fortunate enough to directly represent victims of domestic violence in various Courts, pursuant to restraining orders, custody orders, and other immediate orders. I became immersed in the lives of the indigent in Boston who simply needed adequate information amidst the same language and cultural barriers I experienced growing up.
Later, at GBLS, I moved on to the Family Unit. There I was able to provide representation to indigent families and victims of domestic violence, in their pursuit of a legal means to separate from violence and unrest. My time in the Courtroom, along with the extensive exposure to the various indigent communities in the area, proved immensely beneficial for my legal perspective, career, and my goals in social change.
During my last year of law school, I wanted to broaden my education of public interest – past indigent representation; past in-court litigation. My employment with the Division of Professional Licensure is in Agency law. Working under the Massachusetts governor, we are responsible for licensing and regulating the activities of over 330,000 individuals, corporations and partnerships. Our mission is to protect public health, safety and welfare by fair and consistent enforcement of statutes and regulations of the Boards of Registration. Improvements in the laws that govern professionals is an on-going, highly involved, and team-oriented endeavor. I work in the prosecutions unit alongside Boards of Registration, Board Counsels, Administrative Hearings Counsel, and entire Investigative Units.
My endeavors in public interest law have only begun. I recently accepted a position as Prosecutor with the Division of Professional Licensure. My hopes are to employ my newfound knowledge of all facets of Consumer Affairs, and help the state promote even better protection of all classes of consumers, and even better education of the laws and services available. My future goals are to utilize this experience in an international public interest setting.