Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — Meet Krizia
To celebrate the close of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this year, we are sharing stories from AAPI J2 employees. Krizia sat down with us and let us learn more about her heritage, culture, and how this shapes who she is as a J2 employee.
Over the past several months, our nation has witnessed a rise in anti-Asian crimes and harassment. J2 Engineers is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and is in the process of launching a DE&I program to educate all staff on its meaning. We promise to provide equal opportunity for all and acknowledge the strengths varying backgrounds bring to our team.
The beginning of Krizia’s American story starts as an immigrant from the Philippines entering her freshman year of high school. This time of transition and finding yourself is difficult for most students. Now, imagine you just moved to the United States from another country. A Filipino American, Krizia immigrated to rural Virginia when she was 14 years old with her sister, following in her mother’s footsteps.
J2 – Did your family face challenges when they first arrived? Do you face challenges as an Asian Pacific American?
Krizia: “My mom moved here before us when I was very young, and we would come to visit. The biggest challenge for my sister and me was the culture shock and trying to assimilate in the culture and language.”
“At the time, getting used to the little things, culturally, didn’t seem that bad. Looking back now, I see how it was challenging, especially living in a rural community in Virginia where it wasn’t super diverse. It was difficult to find someone like me. Eventually, I began to find things in common with others. Sports became a big way for me to find connections. I found friends through playing on the high school volleyball team.”
J2 – What are you most proud of related to your culture? How does it help define you?
Krizia: “The Philippines is a melting pot of culture. The country’s location is optimal for trading. It was a colony of Spain for 300 years and an American commonwealth for some time. Its location near China and Malaysia provides a unique mix of culture and experiences. Many Filipinos are Catholic because of Spain’s history, and there are still many Chinese influences, like celebrating Chinese New Year. Filipinos take and adapt different cultures to make up their own. It helps define me because I am a product of that.”
J2 – Do you still have family back home? If so, do you keep in touch and/or visit?
Krizia: “My dad still lives in the Philippines. My last trip back to visit was in 2018, when I got married in the country so that my dad could walk me down the aisle. My husband was born in Los Angeles but raised in the Philippines — the opposite of my experience. He attended school in the Philippines and returned to the US in the summer months. I’ve known him since Kindergarten. We reconnected when we were in college.”
J2 – Our firm is culturally diverse; is that something that attracted you to J2?
Krizia: “I wasn’t looking for a new job. When I started the interview process, I spoke with Jeff, Jim, and Lorainne. They introduced me to the company culture, and I recognized that it was accepting, culturally diverse, and had women engineers. Knowing I’d be supervised by a woman influenced my decision to come work at J2.”
J2 – How did you get to where you are today? Were there individuals that influenced you or helped along the way?
Krizia: “Have you seen the movie Butterfly Effect? I have had many moments in my life that impact how I got to where I am today. In my journey to become an engineer, a college professor noticed my abilities in math. She asked if I had considered engineering as a major, but there were several courses that I needed to fulfill. My professor reached out to the Dean of Engineering to introduce me, and I found myself in the program. From there, I discovered that I wanted to pursue civil engineering. If my teacher hadn’t seen the potential in me, I wouldn’t be where I am today – the butterfly effect.”
“My journey to transportation engineering was another butterfly-effect moment. I was en route to get my master’s in structural engineering through an accelerated program. Based on an ask, I led a transportation engineering team in the last year of undergrad. It was the summer before my last year, and I thought it would look good on my resume. This program allowed me to design a project from concept to 60 percent completion and then print plans. Mid-way into the school year, I found that I enjoyed this area of engineering and decided to make the switch – another butterfly-effect moment.”
J2 – Any parting thoughts or tips you’d like to share?
Krizia: “I have discovered in life that there are moments when I have had plans, and then things come along and pull me in a different direction. It’s good to be flexible. Saying yes can result in greater things.”
AAPI Heritage Month Background
Congress passed a resolution back in 1978 to declare the first week of May as AAPI Heritage Week to mark two significant events, the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the US and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which thousands of Chinese immigrants worked to complete. In 1992 congress determined that the entire month of May would celebrate AAPI heritage and include education, programs, and cultural celebrations to honor Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more information on AAPI Heritage Month, visit asianpacificheritage.gov.
To learn more about J2 and our career opportunities, please visit j2engineers.com/careers.