In honor of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month this May, the Ninth Circuit highlighted three of our judges of Asian heritage: Judges Denise Kim Beamer, Vincent S. Chiu, and Jeanette Dejuras Bigney. This month gave us the opportunity to recognize their individual stories, achievements, and contributions to both this court and our country.
Judge Denise Kim Beamer grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida after her parents left South Korea for the United States. Even though they left the country, her parents continued to celebrate the spirit of South Korea in her household. She remembers going to school every day like any other American kid, but when she came home she experienced Korean language, food, smells, and culture. It was the best of both worlds. And now, she passes down the knowledge of her heritage and experiences of her culture to her young children. She wants them to see the best of both worlds just as her parents did for her.
Judge Vincent S. Chiu grew up in New Jersey surrounded by his close, caring family including a mother born in China and a father from Burma. What the two of his parents had in common was a desire to experience the American dream—not only for themselves but also for their children. He witnessed his parents chase the American dream firsthand, facing all the challenges that come with it, and still succeed despite them. This drive and determination stuck with him on his path to the bench and helped him develop a sense of empathy only his background could provide.
Judge Jeanette Dejuras Bigney’s parents left the Philippines in the 1970s to seek greater opportunities in the United States. They settled in Chicago where she was born a few years later. It was through watching television as a child that Judge Bigney noticed how different her family was from those she saw on the TV screen. This, and the meeting of others from varying backgrounds instilled a sense of mindfulness within Judge Bigney toward those different from herself. As her parents taught her: friends are more than just friends, no matter where they came from.
Visit our Facebook page at @NinthCircuitFL to read more about their stories and listen to them speak about how their heritage has shaped who they are today.