Asian Americans in Public Service



Written by Emily Chen

Edited by Rachel Li

On May 19, in honor of Asian American Heritage month, CAPA-MC, Wootton High School PTSA, Calvin J. Lee Memorial Foundation, and City of Rockville hosted a panel discussion about Asian Americans in public service. The event was held at Wootton High School and included four Asian American panelists who led the discussion. The audience got to ask questions on topics relating to public service.


One of the public service panel members was Jae Hwang, a police officer. He also served as a commission officer in the U.S Army Reserve and a military prosecutor.


Hwang explained the ranking system in the police department. Everyone in the police department enters at the same level. “[You] start out as police officer, go by rank and seniority, [and] move up ranks by being there and doing work, [and] take promotional tests,” Hwang said. He believes that communication skills are the most important to become a police officer.


Out of a little fewer than 13,000 police officers, about 3% of them are Asians. Despite Asians making up only a small percentage of the workforce, Hwang does not believe there are any barriers for Asian Americans in law enforcement. “Being an Asian police officer is advantageous to the Asian community,” he said.

Out of a little fewer than 13,000 police officers, about 3% of them are Asians.

Another panel member was Candice Chen, a director of the division of medicine and dentistry at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She also has a physician background. “I do not think I looked at it as going to serve in a public service,” she said. “For me, I was in an academic position…an opportunity came up to direct a division that administered all the programs that I had been studying.”


“Working in the government gives amazing opportunities to meet new people,” Chen said. “People are mission driven, so I work with absolutely incredible people.”

Working in the government gives amazing opportunities to meet new people.

Eric Lin is a worker at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). At NIST, there are more than 3,000 researchers, who research topics including cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced electronics, 3D printing, and more. More information can be found on www.nist.gov.


There are many opportunities to contribute to public service in the STEM fields. “I think it is just taking an extra look at where there is lack of involvement,”Lin said. “Find something, and volunteer, it is really just simple as that.”


This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.

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