Lisa Setow Hometown: Quincy, Massachusetts
School/Major: Tufts University/B.A. in Political Science and Spanish | Ethnicity: Chinese-American | Other Language(s): Cantonese, Spanish
From Quincy to the State House: Growing up in Quincy, the city with Massachusetts' largest Asian population, I never felt different or like an outsider because growing up, I saw a lot of faces that looked like mine. And being in this positive environment helped me to become comfortable and confident in my Asian-American skin. I had always been interested in American history and I saw working in government as the practical extension of that field. However, from my first experience working in the State House when I was 15 to my second experience four years later, I was acutely aware of how Asian-Americans and Asian-American women seemed to be non-existent. The bubble that growing up in a city that's a quarter Asian had burst on me; I realized that Quincy and my experience were anomalies.
On diversity in government: The lack of diversity in public office can dissuade a person of color from making full use of all that government offers for its citizens. The victory of Tacky Chan (from Quincy, no less, and the Representative I interned for through AAWPI) to become the state's first Asian-American elected to the House of Representatives shows the progressive nature of our times. Conversely, it also shows just how far Asian-American women have left to go before reaching proper representation.
Why I believe voter mobilization efforts are key: The Asian-American community is often ignored by government and this leads to severe disadvantages on any specific issues, especially those pertaining to an underserved Asian-American women population. Voting is the simplest way to ensure that government works for its citizens. We do not want to be a discounted voice and for this reason, efforts to strengthen our voting bloc must be increased. Multilingual mobilization efforts, not just during elections, are key.
What AAWPI means to me: AAWPI's fellowship program changed my life - it allowed me to see the possibilities and challenges that exist in our world and put me in contact with inspiring and status quo-defying women.
Placement: State Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy)