1. Where did you grow up?
For the first five years of my life, I bounced around various cities due to the medical residencies of my Asian immigrant parents, ranging from Queens in New York City to the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville and Cherokee in North Carolina. However, I spent most of my childhood in the Philadelphia suburbs, in particular, a town called Ambler. I attended undergraduate at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, and law school at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia, PA.
2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?
During my Juris Doctor program, I was solidly set on a career in public interest law, such as public defense or working in legal aid for the indigent. My internship and pro bono experiences during law school, such as my clinic at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, reflected this desire. I ended up taking several advanced legal research courses taught by dual-degreed law librarians, which I found to be my absolute favorites due to their practicality, as well as a fun course in Anglo-American Legal History, which included a field trip to a rare book collection! I found that I had a knack for legal research. This sounds nerdy, but finding an obscure legal source brings me so much personal satisfaction. Lifestyle concerns influenced my decision too, as well as a strong desire to teach and publish. I have yet to publish, however, from 2018 to 2019, I developed and taught a multi-session Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course called “Spanish for Lawyers” for a county bar association in response to the growing need for Spanish-speaking attorneys and support staff. The course covered commonly used Spanish words and phrases in courtrooms and law offices, and students actively participated in exercises pertaining to vocabulary and grammar. In addition, my course discussed how to bridge cultural gaps with Latin American clients, who come from a civil law system. This course helped students communicate with Hispanic clients regarding legal matters including domestic relations, immigration, criminal law, etc. Students received comprehensive glossaries of technical terms, and each session included an improvisational element, allowing students to interview mock clients in Spanish. I am passionate about increasing access to justice. My course assisted attorneys in providing linguistically and culturally competent services to Latino clients. In addition, it bolstered my pedagogical skills, which are very pertinent for my goal of academic law librarianship.
3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?
My pre-law internships and volunteer work in human rights non-profit organizations abroad sowed the seeds of my passion for foreign, comparative, and international law. For instance, in summer 2008 through the NGO, Cross-Cultural Solutions, I interned in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India at an anganwadi (“courtyard shelter” in Hindi), a governmental child welfare and public health program for youth of low socioeconomic status and/or caste. In India, I also tutored Tibetan exile monks, nuns, and laypersons through small group English conversation classes at a then up-and-coming NGO called Tibet Hope Center, which piqued my interest in refugee work. My coursework during law school, such as Refugee & Asylum Law taught by an Immigration Judge, also fed this interest. In addition, I performed especially well in a course called Immigration Legal Research, which included units on foreign, international, and comparative law and hands-on experience searching foreign law databases, such as Légifrance. The law librarian who taught that class has been a true inspiration and still provides me mentorship and guidance as I switch gears to law librarianship. Lastly, during law school, I served as a keynote speaker for a student organization event called “Buddhism & the Law”, and I really enjoyed researching for my talk.
4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?
I am presently clerking for the Superior Court of New Jersey in Elizabeth, NJ. During my time there, I have dealt with fascinating family law cases implicating the Hague Convention against international child abduction. I am pleased to announce that in October 2020, I will begin a Reference Librarian position at Western State College of Law in sunny Orange County, California.
5. Do you speak any foreign languages?
Yes! I am trilingual at the moment. My native language is Hindi, which I learned simultaneously along with English. My experience growing up bilingual led to a facility with picking up languages. I began learning Spanish in elementary school, and continued studying it through middle school and high school, and minoring in the subject in college. I started learning French in 2019, but I am very much a beginner at this point. I’ve heard French referred to as the “language of diplomacy”, so I figured learning it would be useful in foreign, comparative and international law librarianship.
6. What is your most significant professional achievement?
Winning AALL’s George A. Strait Minority Scholarship to fund my library science graduate program at Rutgers University.
7. What is your biggest food weakness?
Ma Po Tofu. I like it on the spicy side!
8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure fills me with jubilation.
9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?
Astral projection, or in other words, the ability of a person’s spirit to travel to distant places. It’s gotten stronger during the pandemic, for sure!
10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?
Journaling-I find it so therapeutic!
11. Anything else you would like to share with us?
During summer 2019, I lived as a nun at the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian Province, China through the Woodenfish Foundation’s Humanistic Buddhist Monastic Life Program. I spent my days meditating, practicing martial arts, chanting, completing coursework on Buddhist and Daoist philosophy, and painting calligraphy. The program culminated in a pilgrimage tour at Mount Putuo, a holy site on an island dedicated to Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of compassion.