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20 Under 30: Priscilla Tjio Hervey

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LAist continues its series of interviews with cool Angelenos under 30. Last April, the Pasadena Jaycees nominated Priscilla Angelita Tjio-Hervey as one of the year's Outstanding Young Californians. It's easy to see why Priscilla received the nomination. She teaches science to middle schoolers in Arcadia, runs a comic book publishing company with her husband, John Hervey, and served as Miss Los Angeles Chinatown in 2003.

Age and Occupation:


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Full time Middle School Science teacher

Co-owner of Beyond Time, LLC, producer and publisher of comic book series “Black Tiger: Legacy of Fury”

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?:
I was born in Rochester, Minnesota, but moved to Southern California when I was one month old. My first residence in L.A. was in the San Fernando Valley when I was about 7, then my family moved to the San Gabriel Valley. I lived in Westwood while attending UCLA, and now that I am married, my husband and I live east of Pasadena, near Duarte.

Why do you live in Los Angeles?
Aside from growing up here, I love the diversity of L.A. There is so much to do here, and it is all within driving distance (despite the traffic). It’s great to know that I can have access to any type of cuisine, cultural festivals, and the option to go the beach or mountains all at the same time.

Why did you start the Black Tiger comic?
My husband came up with the concept of “Black Tiger” while we were first dating. One thing led to another, and we decided to make a comic book in order to introduce the property to the public. He has had a great deal of experience in the comic book industry, and I have enjoyed learning about it, so it has been a great opportunity for both of us. The comic itself tells an intriguing story about self discovery in relation to family history, and it’s filled with action as well. Beyond Time, LLC is an endeavor that my husband and I enjoy working on together while still maintaining our own full time jobs.

How does your experience as an educator influence your comics business?
My hope is that in the future, we will be able to produce and publish educational comic books. I think that comic books are a great way to introduce students to various new ideas, and it is done in a way that includes guided imagination. The illustrations in comic books allows readers to have a sense of what is happening while still requiring a level of imagination to fill in the actions in between the panels. It is also important that the stories we develop have a positive message behind it. "Black Tiger: Legacy of Fury," in some ways is a super hero story, but there is always consequences to people's choices. I want to make sure that we provide positive consequences for the good choices and allow for negative consequences for the bad choices, with room for redemption, just as it is in real life.

What are public schools in Los Angeles County doing right?
I currently work for Arcadia Unified, which places student learning first. As a science teacher, I feel that I am supported in the resources I need to ensure effective teaching and learning in my classroom. They also place a strong emphasis in technology, which is especially important during this age of computers and developing technology all around us. I am also seeing that successful districts find ways to involve the community and families, which are very important in the development of our students. From my own experience, I have seen a great deal of success in students who have support from their family with regard to their learning. Sometimes, the community feels that the schools are supposed to transform students into well disciplined, highly intellectual members of society, but in reality, we are only one part of a student's life. It is a partnership that everyone in the community needs to be a part of, and the districts that believe in this partnership seem to have the most success.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is interacting with the students. I enjoy hearing their questions about everything related to the subject of science or about life, in general. I take great responsibility knowing that my daily interactions with them will influence them in their development. Of course, when I see a student have an "a-ha" moment because of how I presented a lesson, that gives me the confidence that my role as an educator has value.

Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
My favorite teacher was Mrs. Matson. I had her in 4th and 6th grade. Looking back, I remember sitting in her class and thinking that I wanted to be a teacher so that I could be like her. She was clear in her explanations, and she emanated this sense of warmth and comfort whenever I was near her. My peers would call me "teacher's pet" in her class, and secretly I liked it because I wanted her to like me. Most of all, I felt like she respected me, and she valued me as a student. I hope that I do the same for my students.

What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?
Well, the truth is that I hardly have any time to watch movies or TV, and to be honest, I Netflix the majority of everything I watch. However, my favorite show, which is based in LA is "Alias." First of all, it's exciting to see familiar buildings and streets used for the various scenes, but the show itself is filled with excitement. I am kind of sad that it will be finishing soon, but life goes on.

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Best LA-themed book(s)?

Gee, again, I hardly ever get a chance to read for pleasure. The majority of books I pick up are curriculum related or comic books. I'll have to think about that one. If there is one that someone can suggest, please send it my way.

What's the best place to walk in LA?
I used to enjoy walking around the outdoor shopping areas such as Santa Monica Promenade or Old Town Pasadena, but I'm not much of a shopper, so I don't go there as much anymore. There is a walking trail in Duarte that is always nice to walk because it's fairly tranquil, and you get to see people walk their dogs and take their babies for a stroll. It's the feeling that you are in a nice neighborhood that makes it enjoyable.

What is the "center" of LA to you?
Actually, the "center" of LA to me is Chinatown. When I served as Miss Los Angeles Chinatown in 2003, I learned so much about this culture filled area, that it became a part of me. I enjoy attending the Golden Dragon Parade every Chinese New Year, and seeing the brightly colored dragons fill the street with the sound of firecrackers and drums beating. I get excited just thinking about it. One of my favorite restaurants, Chow Fun, is there because it offers a relaxing atmosphere with good food. Though I am not Miss LA Chinatown anymore, I still feel connected to the people and the area of Chinatown.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?

I am where I want to be. My husband and I live in the house he grew up in, and it is far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet close enough to drive wherever we need to go. I grew up most of my life in Monterey Park, and my parents are still there. I still enjoy driving out there, especially when there are city events or I'm in the mood for Wonton Noodle Soup at midnight. However, I am very blessed to be where I'm at, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else at this time.

People stereotype Los Angeles as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?
I definitely don't agree with that. Though it is a big city, the benefit of living in a diverse area such as Los Angeles is that you get a chance to meet a variety of people. With any place you live in, it is a matter of being comfortable enough to reach out, and if you are willing to do that and meet new people, it is surprisingly easy to make new friends. I've met the majority of my friends through various community related events, and knowing that I met them at places I enjoyed being involved in reflects that they share some similar interests as you.

What is the city's greatest secret?
The city's greatest secret? I don't know if I am privy to know any of the city's secrets. I guess one great secret is that there is opportunity everywhere! I think when people come to L.A., there are certain industries that they want to go into, or have a certain experience, but they quickly find out that there is so much for this city to offer. You see such an expanse of neighborhoods that vary in their characters, and it is easy to forget that all of it is part of L.A. Also, Los Angeles isn't as dangerous as many people like to portray it to be. I remember meeting some Australians, and they would ask me if I am scared with all the shootings that happen. I had to laugh because I was surprised that that was the perception they had of L.A. Although this area has its share of crime and violence, there are many that live in safe neighborhoods.

Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?
With my family at home.

If you could make one thing be different in LA for your 30th birthday, what would you change?
If I could change one thing about LA for my 30th birthday, it would be to improve the air quality. It would make living in this area so much more beautiful without having the smog looming around.

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