KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Congratulations and praise from Malaysians over Jocelyn Yow’s appointment as a mayor in a city in the United States has come as a surprise to the 25-year-old.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Yow said she did not expect that her achievement would make headlines in her father’s country of birth.
“Absolutely (surprised) I did not expect the news to travel all the way back to Malaysia,” she was quoted as saying.
Yow was elected as the mayor of the city of Eastvale in California, with a population of 55,000 located an hour east of Los Angeles.
Her appointment also makes Yow the youngest woman from a minority ethnic group to serve as mayor in the US state.
It is understood that Yow’s father went to the US in the 1980s to study, where he eventually met her mother, a child of Vietnamese refugees.
Shortly after her birth, Yow returned to Malaysia as her paternal grandfather developed cancer.
“I spent 15 years in Alor Setar, Kedah and I consider Alor Setar my hometown.
“I picked up Mandarin, English, and Malay. While my family and friends spoke Hokkien and Cantonese, I had a hard time learning those two dialects,” she was quoted as saying.
It has been two years since the alumnus of SMJK Keat Hwa was last in Malaysia, and Yow said she misses it.
“I miss the food, the culture, and the country’s natural beauty the most. I appreciate the diversity and unique culture in Malaysia.
“I have fond memories of travelling across the country with my family and going jungle trekking and camping with Girl Guides and Scouts while in Malaysia,” she said.
Yow’s political record speaks for itself. An alumnus of Norco College and the University of California, Berkeley, she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in government at Harvard Extension.
She was also a staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressman Gil Cisneros and an immigration specialist at the US House of Representatives to name a few.
In recognition of her community service, she has also received the Rising Star Award from the California Democratic Party, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus.