Resourceful immigrant sets sights on home ownership
At 25, Xinyu Wang truly knows the value of hard work. He completed his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Washington in four years while working two part-time jobs. This allowed him to keep his student loans in the bank, and graduate in the black—something very few college students manage to do. And he taught himself the English language quickly on his own through exposure to native-English speakers while working toward his degree.
At age 18, his father told him he’d need to find a place to live, so Wang worked with Seattle Housing Authority and Neighborhood House to apply for low income housing, and spent about 2 1/2 years living in Yesler Terrace while going to school. He said he lived frugally and kept his job as bus boy at a restaurant in Seattle’s Chinatown for six years, sometimes only eating one meal each day. He did this, he said, so that he could return his loans with no burden of debt on his shoulders when he graduated.
A native of Qiqihar, China, Wang is today working for the Department of Social and Health Services with plans to eventually give back to Seattle’s Yesler Terrace community, which he credits with instilling in him a sense of community and volunteerism. He dreams of paying this forward by working in the public sector as either an ambassador or politician, where he could serve the public in some way, he said.
“I believe if you work hard you can achieve anything,” Wang said. “If you work hard, it’s sometimes not always possible to achieve everything, but if you don’t work hard, nothing is possible.”
In May, Wang lent his presentation skills to his old neighborhood (he has since moved to High Point because of construction that has displaced him and others) by addressing a large crowd of community leaders and guests at a ceremony to re-dedicate the historic Yesler Plant, now known as the Epstein Opportunity Center.
Larry Hill, a job placement specialist with Seattle Housing Authority, calls Wang a remarkable young man.
“I first met Xinyu when he was living in Yesler Terrace,” Hill says. “I was amazed at his professional demeanor and also by the fact that he had $10,000 in unspent student loans in the bank, gathering interest, which he paid off before the due date. I would not be surprised to see Xinyu become a Seattle City Council Member within the next five or six years,” he added.
Wang said he’s proud of becoming self-sufficient and will continue helping others to escape the poverty he experienced when he first moved to this country. He said that he’s looking forward to home ownership, ideally in the High Point area, and for which he admits he will need to borrow money.