Ryan Liu is an attorney and nationally recognized advocate for accessible higher education. He has dedicated his life’s work to guaranteeing that others can access the same opportunities that he had to be the first in his family to go to college.
Ryan’s parents immigrated to America to pursue a brighter future. His mother escaped the Cambodian genocide as a refugee and his father left everything he knew in Argentina to come to the United States. Even though they were low-income, Ryan’s parents instilled in him a deep appreciation for the value of education. They rented a small backhouse in Arcadia, CA, to allow Ryan and his younger brother to access the community’s quality public schools.
To afford college, Ryan enrolled at Pasadena City College (PCC). While at PCC, Ryan worked multiple jobs to support his family, got involved as a community organizer, and represented his classmates as an elected member of the student government. He graduated from PCC as valedictorian and transferred to Yale College as only one of three community college transfer students to Yale in the nation in 2015.
Ryan delivering PCC's commencement address as valedictorian.
Ryan graduated from Yale College with honors and distinction. Ryan then earned a Master of Science in Higher Education at the University of Oxford with honors and his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, where he chaired the student government and represented veterans through Yale’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic.
Ryan never forgot the opportunities that PCC provided him. He’s become a tireless advocate for accessible higher education. Nationally, Ryan’s worked as a policy fellow on the College Promise Campaign, a bipartisan effort that pushed for affordable and accessible community college. He also served on the Education Policy Committee of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, where he advised on higher education policy priorities. Ryan’s writings have been featured in national publications and he’s given talks focused on higher education alongside leaders like former First Lady Michelle Obama. Ryan’s work also expands internationally. At the University of Oxford, Ryan researched higher education programs for adult learners in the United Kingdom and examined higher education systems from around the world.
Ryan speaking alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama on a panel about higher education.
But Ryan’s heart has always remained in the local community and with PCC. He’s been actively involved with PCC over the last decade. He’s spoken at local K-12 schools about higher education, mentored community college students through PCC's Transfer Center, and served on the board of PCC’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Advisory Committee. He also served as Deputy Campaign Manager on PCC’s successful bond initiative that provided $565 million in funding for PCC to make necessary repairs and upgrades. Ryan gives back to PCC because of how much PCC has given him and his family. Ryan’s younger brother also attended PCC and Ryan’s partner taught as an adjunct professor at PCC.
Ryan is now running for PCC’s Board of Trustees to continue this work. Ryan understands the challenges facing students at PCC because he lived their experiences. Ryan’s extensive work and expertise in higher education – coupled with his real-world experience mentoring generations of PCC students – has prepared him to serve as an effective board member. As a Trustee, Ryan will work to ensure that all students can access the opportunities that he had to build a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones
Ryan swearing in as an attorney alongside his parents.