Growing up in an immigrant household on Long Island, Louis Lin experienced many of the issues generally facing our nation’s underserved marginalized communities, whether it be the inability to access proper health care or lack of available funding for higher education. Because of this, Louis has dedicated his life to advancing and enacting positive social change, starting here at Penn. By intertwining health care, education access, social justice issues, and public policy, Louis has built himself a multifaceted foundation at the University, all based around one common goal: serving the underserved.
Louis knew long before arriving at Penn that he wanted to be involved in health policy, hoping that, as a pediatrician, he could advocate for children’s healthcare rights. This interest led him to position with Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Hospital as a Research Assistant. Louis’s team studied a rare group of disorders called Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDGs), which result in the mutation of genes essential to the production of proteins in the body. Through their research, Louis and his team found the novel role that certain genes played in protein synthesis, and published their findings in the July 2016 edition of The Journal of Experimental Secondary Science. However, Louis realized his aspirations for change lay outside of medicine. “Although I’m not on the medical research track anymore,” Louis tells us, “I believe my research experiences fostered my desire to explore and learn, making me look at life through an evidence based lens.”
During a summer experience prior to his first semester, Louis became an Organizing Fellow for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, working to increase voter registration and turnout throughout Philadelphia and Delaware counties. “That experience,” Louis explains, “was the catalyst that made me realize I wanted to go into public policy and service.” Additionally, Louis attributes the public health and political science classes he took during his freshman year to furthering his passion for policy, culminating in his decision to take on a double major in Health and Societies, and Political Science.
Now a sophomore, Louis has used his skills in and passion for research and public policy in a variety of ways. In May 2017, Louis became a Fox Research Fellow with Penn’s Program of Opinion Research and Election Studies (PORES). Through PORES, Louis conducted research on the trends of public opinion surrounding the Affordable Care Act, as well as minority partisanship in elections. Louis also joined the ranks of the Public Policy Initiative Student Group, where he continues to research topics involving both health care and education. Louis is also the Conference Chair of MEDLIFE Penn, an annual conference that tackles global health issues. “My previous research experiences,” Louis says, “have helped me decide what kind of work I want to do.” He continues, “I find it is very interesting how different fields conduct research differently, yet how transferable some skills are from one field to another.”
As a first generation college student, Louis is working to make sure that others facing the same challenges have greater support. He is a dedicated member of Penn First, a student run organization for first-generation and low-income background students. Louis’s main focus within the group is education access. “Being a first-generation, low-income student comes with many challenges and ultimately I hope to fight to make sure all who want to pursue a higher education get that opportunity, and an affordable one at that.” While he asserts that Penn does a great job addressing issues facing first-gen students, “there are definitely other things that need to be addressed: financial aid, dining during breaks, career services, and affordability of both academic and social needs.” Louis is also the Director of Administrative Programming for 1vyG, an annual intercollegiate first generation college student conference, which Penn will host in 2018. “I am able to work with administrators from schools across America to help solve problems first generation students face not just at Penn, but at schools across the country.”
However, Louis is not focused solely on the Penn community. He was elected in March 2017 as the Judge of Election in Philadelphia Ward 27-20. The role of the judge is to ensure that election laws are followed and that voters do not face any problems while voting. While there were a number of reasons that Louis entered the race, he boils it down to two main points: voting rights and youth representation. “At a time when voting rights are being targeted, I want to promote voter education and ensure that voters in my division do not face voter suppression.” He also hopes to inspire young voters to make it out to the polls, adding their underrepresented voices to politics.
The future, for Louis, sees a melding of various interests, spanning politics, health care, education, advocacy, and policy. While it may seems chaotic from afar, Louis sees it clearly. “My interests may seem to lay in differing realms, but what ties them all together is my interest in ensuring access for underserved communities.” He continues, “In the future, I hope to weave these things together through public policy and legislation; to advocate for those who are often treated like statistics.”