What was the moment in your life when you realized you wanted to explore public service?
I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment of awakening which inspired me to explore public service. Rather, it was an aggregation of experiences that led my interest in pursuing public service: growing up with a strong Chinese American identity, asserting my Asian American identity and researching AAPI activism through school projects in high school, becoming socially conscious at Pomona College, and most recently, my experiences at Health Bridges. For the past year, I have served as the Marketing & Communications Director and founding board member of Health Bridges, a student-run nonprofit startup that helps Limited English Proficient (LEP), low-income, and/or immigrant patients navigate the healthcare system. Through Health Bridges, I have personally witnessed the role that language and cultural barriers play in deterring patients in underserved communities from receiving quality medical care. Through my personal, community, and work experiences, I began to realize the necessity of creating immediate social and policy changes to address the critical issues in the AAPI community and other marginalized or underserved communities. But how were these policies created and implemented? I wondered. Public service was the natural answer! And thus sparked my initial interest in pursuing a career in the public sector.
What motivates you?
I am constantly motivated and inspired by the passions, values, and activism that my fellow peers in the AAPI and students of color communities strive to pursue day by day. Throughout my college experience so far, I’ve been fortunate to have a community of friends, mentors, and peers to learn from and engage in conversations about race, class, gender, and other issues. This same community has also supported and listened to me through my roller coaster of personal existential crises and angry rants about social injustices. The realization of my own privileges has also played an instrumental role in motivating me. From taking Asian American Studies courses to attending on-campus events about social justice, I have been able to not only explore the complexities and intersectionalities of social issues and identities, but also self-reflect upon my own experiences. As a second-generation, bilingual, and college-educated Asian American woman, I have had the opportunity to step into a lot of spaces—spaces like higher education that many members of my community do not have access to. Keeping these privileges in mind has made me far more conscious of the existence of social inequities and how I should navigate through different spaces and communities. In the future, I hope to use the knowledge and skills that I possess to work towards creating more affordable and quality access to healthcare, education, and other social institutions.
What is something that most people would not know about you?
I have an unhealthy obsession with avocadoes, Candy Crush, and Chinese dating shows. Believe it or not, I’m also #tumblrfamous! I’ve been running a high fashion blog with 40,000+ followers since high school. Shameless plug: chiffonandribbons.tumblr.com
When you get off work, what do you do? What are your weekend activities?
My life after work generally falls into three activities: (1) Doing summer research on behavioral finance with a Pomona professor, (2) Interviewing AAPI professionals around DC for my intern group’s capstone project, and (3) Cooking as much Chinese food as I can—given the limited ingredients that I can obtain from “Asian Food” section at Safeway—and eating it while watching Criminal Minds/Law & Order: SVU/NCIS/insert crime show.
On the other hand, my goal during the weekends is to live as *deceivingly* Insta-worthy of a life as possible, which entails furiously Snapchatting my meals at cheap eats around DC, feeling hipster and chic in modern art museums, exploring street art alleyways in highly gentrified neighborhoods, and night-monumenting around the Tidal Basin. Regardless of what city I go to, I tend to enjoy discovering the hidden treasures of the city more than going to the mainstream attractions. I still have a plethora of things on my DC bucket list that I have yet to do, but I really hope to complete a few more in the limited time that I have left this summer!
Sophia Fang is a rising junior at Pomona College, where she is pursuing a double major in Economics and Media Studies. At Pomona, she has served as a mentor for the Asian American Mentor Program, the Director of Public Relations at ASPC Senate, an intern at the Asian American Resource Center, and a representative on the 7C Asian American Advisory Board. She is also the Marketing & Communications coordinator of Health Bridges, a student-run health advocacy program that helps LEP, low-income, and/or immigrant patients navigate the healthcare system. Sophia is passionate about health equity, access to education, AAPI representation in the media, and intersectionality & identity politics. In her free time, Sophia runs a high fashion blog and plays Candy Crush excessively.
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Posted by Felicia Wong
Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non-country specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.