I was born on February 8, 1997 in Barrington, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In Barrington, I lived with my parents and three older siblings, Michelle, Elliott, and Sherelle. Growing up, I was very sheltered from the challenges facing the world, instead enjoying the privilege of living in an affluent neighborhood with few social or financial issues. However, this all changed in 2005 when my mother became sick with a mental illness. My father, a chemical engineer, had a job offer with Swatch and decided to move my mother, my sister Sherelle, and me to Switzerland so that he could take care of us.
Living in another country was an amazing experience. While Sherelle and I went to an international school that spoke English, we still were immersed in the Swiss culture and met students from around the world. Still our time in Bern was difficult as we began to see that our mother would not get better anytime soon. At the end of the year, we moved back to Illinois in hopes that the familiar setting would make my mother feel better. My father continued to work abroad, so it was only my mother, Sherelle and myself at home. My sister Michelle was working in Boston after graduating from Harvard, and my brother was at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Michelle soon moved back to Illinois to help out the family. She started a small restaurant in Chicago, The Loose Leaf Tea Loft, where I would help as a cashier on the weekends. While Sherelle finished off her senior year and prepared to head off to college, Michelle prepared to go to Harvard Law School. Since no one could stay with me and my mother in Illinois, Michelle decided to become my legal guardian and move me with her to Cambridge.
I spent the 2009-2010 school year at the Graham and Parks Alternative School in Cambridge, which had a great humanities course, similar to that of Facing History and Ourselves. Then the next year Michelle and I moved to the South End of Boston. I attended the Eliot K-8 School in the North End and took the ISEE. That year I began to participate in the Boston Children’s Chorus in the Central Intermediate Choir. Additionally, that year I began to attend the Ward 4 Democratic Committee meetings, where Michelle, my brother-in-law Conor, and Sherelle became members.
At Boston Latin School I soon began to thrive, due to the wide range of extracurriculars, the consistency of being at the same school for more than one year and the joy of finally being academically challenged. I prioritized the Junior Classical League, a national organization devoted to Latin and Ancient Greek which I had joined in 2008 while in Illinois. Although my schools did not offer Latin in 7th and 8th grade, my passion for the subject drove me to independently study it and to become a Member-At-Large with the Boston Latin Academy chapter of the JCL. At BLS, I was able to become more involved with the club, eventually rising to the position of Co-President. I also joined BLS ImpACT, a social justice club, and YouthCAN, an environmental club, which I still participate in today.
Outside of school, I continued the Boston Children’s Chorus, where I am now a member of the Premier Chorus, and joined the ASPIRE Youth Leadership Program. ASPIRE focuses on the issues that affect Asian American female youths. During my time in the program, I grew with the support of my mentor, Heang, and the similar experiences of the other members. The combination of BLS ImpACT and ASPIRE helped fuel my passion for public service, as I quickly began to see issues that people which are outside of their control.
My interest in public service was further sparked in the summer of 2012, where I worked at The Food Project. Besides the time spent working on the farm, the program featured several seminars on social issues and weekly community service. My group volunteered at Rosie’s Place in the South End, where we cooked and served the vegetables that I personally harvested. I found that I was helping my community in a very tangible way, which catalyzed my goal of working in public service.
In the end of 2012, Michelle launched her campaign for City Councilor-At-Large, based on her struggles as a daughter of two immigrants, an entrepreneur, a legal guardian, and so much more. In my time helping out in the campaign and talking with her as a sister, I learned a lot about Boston politics. This closed the distance between me and my goal of working in public service. Soon, I discovered the Ward Fellowship at BLS, and I jumped at the opportunity. I am so fortunate to have access to such great opportunities like a close look at the Boston City Council and Massachusetts State Senate. I hope to use these experiences to palpably help others who are not as fortunate.