Elaine’s views on inequity were shaped early on as an elementary school student growing up in public housing. She and her neighbor entered school on the same level, but were put on different tracks simply because Elaine was Asian American and her friend was African American. Elaine was encouraged to make career choices where she could earn a high salary. But at Berkeley, she realized that TFA was an organization trying to change things in ways that could have changed her family’s situation. Teaching taught her that any obstacle can be overcome when you invest others in big goals and have high expectations, principles she applied in her work at startups in Kenya, and continues to live by as she combats inequity in the business world.
Q & A
I am a firm believer that social change is more effective when led from within. People from the community need to lead the change, and people coming from the outside can help and support.
I learned that if I invested students in the “why” behind our lessons and held them to the highest expectations, they could overcome any obstacle. This applies to my work today. My students changed the way I view the world and what I want to do with my life. Everything I do is shaped by them.