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December 2, 2013
Freshman Facts: Phil Ting, the Asian-American advocate


Back in Phil Ting's Berkeley days, when he forged a friendship with fellow student activist and future Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, running for public office seemed like a remote possibility.

"We were always the folks who did a lot of the work but didn't seek the limelight," Ting said, noting that neither he nor Pérez ran for student government. "If you were going to pick people from our cohort, I don't think he and I would have been chosen" as future elected officials.

But Ting did discover an affinity for political advocacy, from faculty diversity and affirmative action - areas Pérez also worked on - to access for Asian-American students. The latter cause resonated with Ting, prefiguring his eventual job heading the Asian Law Caucus.

"People would ask me what my dream was out of college and it was to be executive director for an Asian-American civil rights group," Ting said.

That path eventually led Ting to the Legislature, albeit a few years after Pérez. Now he marvels at how things have changed in the years since he visited Sacramento as a student pushing for change.

"We wouldn't meet with Asian-American senators and Assembly members," because there were none, Ting said. "We would meet with staff."

The 2013-2014 Legislature features the largest freshman class in decades. In this recurring series, Insider Edition helps get you acquainted with the influx of newcomers.