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30 Under 30: Sallie Lin

Sallie Lin's experience immigrating to the United States when she was young has made her committed to public service.

We recently asked you to nominate young leaders in North San Mateo County for Patch's "30 under 30" series recognizing young leaders.

We've been impressed by the talented and influential young people in our area, and now we bring you the first of our "30 under 30" profiles. We'll continue publishing them regularly until we hit 30, and we invite you to continue sending nominations of people who you feel should be honored. To nominate someone, send an email to drew@patch.com with the person's name, contact information and a short description of why they are a young leader.

Name: Sallie Lin

Age: 24

Residence: Millbrae

Education: UCLA, Mills High School, Taylor Middle School, Spring Valley Elementary School.

Occupation: Elections Specialist for San Mateo County

Why did you choose your industry or field?

My family and I immigrated to the U.S. when I was young. We didn’t speak English or understand American culture. There was a long period of struggle for us to navigate a seemingly completely different world and become self-sufficient. Through the hardships of being an outsider, I came to believe that having access to political entities and a firm understanding of our rights and the legal system are crucial for women and minorities. Also, we need to make use of the limited power that generations before us have fought for. This realization led me to advocate on behalf of underrepresented populations in our community. At the same time, I have always been interested in how the politics work on a federal, state and local level, because after all, in order to change the system, one needs to be in the system. So intentionally or unintentionally, all my work experiences so far have been in non-profits and governments.  

How did you get into that area?

One step at a time. 

I began interning and later worked at the State Controller, John Chiang's office during college. It was my first exposure to public service. I deeply enjoyed providing assistance to low-income families during the free services and seminars. By my senior year, I knew I wanted to intern at an Asian American non-profit organization, so I applied and was selected through the UCLA Center for American Politics and Public Policy as a participant in the Quarter in Washington program. Thanks to my mentors at the Asian American Justice Center, I was able to contribute to their work in legislations, community advocacy and prepare materials and data for Senate presentations. Through their recommendations, I became the Impact Litigation Unit Legal Assistant at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. I loved my work at there because I got to help immigrants who were just like my parents and me when we first came to the U.S. My background in public service and law later played a beneficial factor in my current role as one of the Elections Specialists for the County.

I learned that building networks and having mentors to help guide you along the way are extremely important. 

What kind of challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?

There have been many subtle gestures that I experienced in a professional setting where I was made to feel “too young” or “too inexperienced”. It is tough for any fresh-faced, newly graduated idealist to be at the bottom of a professional hierarchy. At the same time though, others may feel like they are being judged for being “too old”, “not educated enough”, or “too” anything else. I learn to overcome my insecurities and others’ misconception of me by proving myself in the work that I produce. This is why it’s so wonderful for the Patch to feature and celebrate up-and-coming leaders in their "30 under 30" editorial. 

Who inspires you?

When I was at the Legal Center, I had the opportunity to work for Julie Su, who is now the State Labor Commissioner. I was always amazed by her eloquence, intelligence, and work ethics. She is a dedicated mother, civil rights leader and many things in one.

My other inspiration is my mentor and close friend, criminal defense attorney Mia Yamamoto. In general, I look up to candid, rebellious and hard-working women who care less about their make-up than the people they are fight for.  

What is your advice for aspiring leaders?

To live honestly and fearlessly. It is a very hard motto to live by (and at times I fall short as well). There are cultural and social expectations set for everyone. Sooner or later, these expectations become limitations and barriers that may tie you down. It is up to you to keep true to yourself.

Jamie White April 26, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Congratulations, Sallie! Love your advice for aspiring leaders.

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