Leadership Academy LA Blog Week 5

For most people, Wednesday “hump days” are difficult to trek through. They’re in the middle of the work week, exactly two days away from the weekend that is long gone and two days away from the weekend that is fast (but not quite fast enough!) approaching.

For me, this past Wednesday was filled with activity. I went to visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena with my office, worked on some exciting preparations for the Congresswoman Chu’s upcoming Congressional Leadership Awards, and attended a fundraising dinner for the re-election of Thomas Wong, President of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District—all in one day!

At JPL, we went on a tour of four segments and were allowed to enter one of them, Mission Control. Having no background in astrophysics or mechanical engineering, I certainly appreciated the sheer amount of emotion and work that happens at JPL, but I wasn’t sure if I would understand it all.

Luckily, our guide made it easy to understand that the work they partake in essentially put robots in space to search and send back data from millions of kilometers away. I also learned that 30% of the funding they get is spent on research about Earth and its earthquakes, water, and rising-sea levels. That’s something probably not a lot of people know, but is incredibly important research for the quality of life, safety, and health here on Earth.

In preparation for the Congressional Leadership Awards, I was tasked with organizing nomination information and preparing a PowerPoint to present at the ceremony. Being an irrational fan of event prepping, setting up, running around, and cleaning up, I always enjoy helping out the Congresswoman’s office when she is in town to connect with her constituents.

As I worked on organizing the honorees’ pictures and information, I started to wonder who did the nominating and who did the selection. The honorees are extremely accomplished in the 27th District and the honor is well deserved. If I had a choice in honoring community members, I would select those who are “missing from the table”.

Since meeting Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil for the Office of Governor Brown at the State Capitol, I’ve been conscious of those who are regularly excluded from these sort of civic events, by choice or not. People who share similarities with my parents and family members may not have the opportunities to be honored in the same fashion. Though they may do important community work within their ethnic “bubble”, they may not be recognized due to a lack of capital or broader connections to the English-speaking world.

If I had the chance to nominate someone, I would ask the questions that Governor Brown asks, and demand to know who is missing from the table. It’s important that a large bulk of constituents isn’t only “on the menu”.

Photo Credit: Michael Touhey via Facebook

Photo Credit: Michael Touhey via Facebook

I ended my day by attending the fundraising dinner for the re-election of Thomas Wong, President of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Not only did I get to enjoy dishes and dishes of Chinese cuisine (I haven’t eaten at a bustling restaurant since moving back home), I took a moment to reflect as Thomas spoke to the crowd of 26 full tables.

I first met Thomas as a 16 year-old youth member of the Monterey Park Environmental Commission, when he served as the Commission Chair. When I graduated high school in 2012, he was running for election to his current position on the Water District Board.

He recalled his first campaign and stated, “I was 23 years old and running against someone who had my life’s worth of experience of being President. Even if I put me and him side to side, I would’ve voted for him. I couldn’t have done without your support.” Being a young person, I hear from people a lot about my growth, but this time I see it in Thomas. It’s inspiring to see someone who is still on an unpredictable and exciting trajectory.