May 14, 2018
My Tien Doan, a student at Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, discovered her purpose through anger and frustration-with discrimination, inequality, stereotypes and her inability as a young child to help her immigrant parents.
"I am living the American immigrant dream, and McGeorge made that possible," she said recently of her purpose as an advocate.
That American dream did not come easily. Doan and her parents came to the United States in the mid-1990s as political refugees. They arrived ill, poor, exhausted and unable to speak English, but grateful for the opportunity for a better life.
"All I could do as a little girl was stand back in helpless silence," she said. "I couldn't stick up for my parents; I couldn't fight the system; I couldn't be that voice. This angered me. It was also the fire that drove me to find my purpose."
Later, as she considered law school as a way of gaining a voice for advocacy, some questioned whether as an Asian-American woman she should go into medicine or another field.
"I told myself that my purpose cannot be dictated, derailed or diminished by the opinions, not the facts, of other people," she said. "I knew the abilities that I was given; I knew the vision that I had for my life, and I knew that I was more than capable of being an amazing attorney who just so happens to be an Asian woman."
A financial aid package allowed Doan to attend McGeorge and take advantage of several opportunities she might not otherwise have.
"These past three years at McGeorge have been the most transformative period of my life, both professionally and personally," Doan said. "It has forced me well outside of my comfort zone, which was where I discovered who I am and what I (am) made of. I never thought that a poor immigrant like me would end up as a finalist in the (Global Lawyering Skills II Final Four) oral arguments, that I would be competing in two distinguished moot court competitions, that I would be an executive board member for (Public Legal Services Society), which has raised over $50,000 in summer grants for students working in public interest, or that I would now have the opportunity to brief Gov. Jerry Brown."
Next, Doan is taking the California bar exam in July and will continue advocacy with the goal to eventually work for the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.