My DEI Story: Annie Xiao
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
By Annie Xiao, Manager, Global Thought Leadership at FiscalNote
My DEI Story is that I’m a first-generation immigrant from southern China who was bullied as a young child, moved to America without speaking English, and ultimately became the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university in the United States.
If you ask anyone to describe me as the person I am today, you’ll likely get these responses: outgoing, hardworking, and jack of all trades. While I completely embrace the person I am today, there was a different side of me that many people don’t know about.
Growing up in China, I dealt with bullying throughout elementary school. Regularly, I would hear remarks and mockeries from my classmates about my unusual Chinese name and my physical appearance. My teachers also contributed to this painful experience by continuously reprimanding me in front of the class for circumstances outside of my control. Eventually, even my close friends at school started alienating me.
To a perceived outsider, I’ve always kept my head up and never let any of the negative comments bother me. In reality, those experiences have had tremendous impacts on my self-esteem, and it took a long time to heal those wounds.
When I moved to the United States at the age of twelve without speaking English, I once again found myself in the same situation where I struggled to fit in and excel at school. However, I did not let my insecurities get the best of me this time. I knew that I had an opportunity to start over and be the best person that I could be, so I did everything I could to reach that dream.
I found out about an opportunity to attend the San Francisco School of the Arts High School, the number two public school in the district, but admission was contingent upon my ability to pass an art performance evaluation. Growing up in a low-income household, I knew my parents would not be able to afford my violin lessons, so I started working two part-time jobs to pay for my lessons and save up for college.
While it was not easy to juggle the responsibilities of being a full-time student, having two jobs, and keeping up with orchestra practices, my hard work eventually paid off. Having exposure to a professional work setting at a young age helped me secure a competitive internship during college and laid the foundation for all the future opportunities that led me to my current job at FiscalNote. In 2015, I became the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university in the United States.
As I’ve learned over time, I gravitate toward overcoming challenges. Whether it be through my personal or professional life, I like to prove that I am able to tackle any obstacles thrown at me and excel at that responsibility. If there is anything that inspires you from my story, I hope it is that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. As long as you work hard and believe in yourself, the sky is truly the limit.
WGR’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee will be featuring a series of blogs from Committee Members and DEI Allies focused on “My DEI Story”. These blogs are intended not only to highlight the multitude of diversity that exists within our world, but to also recognize that EVERYONE has a DEI story!