Rising to the Top

May 23, 2017 Elizabeth M. San Nicolas

 

ALICIA LIMITIACO DIDN'T KNOW exactly what she wanted to do straight out of high school, but during her time at the University of Southern California she realized she had a passion for helping victims of crime.

“I was exposed during my undergraduate years to people who were law students and eventually became attorneys—my interest developed because I saw the law as a means of being able to really help people,” she said.

After finishing her Bachelor’s in Business Administration at USC in 1985, she went on to graduate from the UCLA School of Law with a juris doctor in 1990.

At UCLA Law, she was very involved in the Asian/Pacific Islander Law Students Association, co-chairing the admission committee. “I was actually very honored to receive an alumnus award by APILSA, and they were recognizing me for the work and the contributions (to) the community. It was just a wonderful opportunity to see again my former classmates, and to meet students now who are pursuing the same interests,” Alicia declared.

She grew up in Tamuning, and was lucky enough to have family support in California, which enabled her to go to an off-island college of her choice. “I picked California because there are, of course, very good programs there, very good academic institutions,” she said.

“In California, the weather is a lot more comforting,” she added. “I enjoy the sunshine. I really enjoy the outdoors and being able to access places, programs. Being able to go out and exercise and enjoy nature.”

Alicia continued, “It was just comforting to know that family was not too far away. And frankly, my parents were concerned, but I’m sure they also felt reassured knowing I was in a place where, if anything were to happen, there would be people around who cared.”

After earning her juris doctor, she wasn’t exactly sure what area of Law she wanted to practice, but she knew where her passion was. “What I wanted to do was to take on a position that would allow me to assist victims of crime. And so, after graduation, I did join the attorney general’s office of Guam as a local prosecutor because I saw that as an opportunity to contribute in a positive way. By becoming a prosecutor, then I emphasized really a lot in the areas of child abuse, family violence, and sexual assault.”

Alicia’s passion to help victims is rooted in the strong ethics that she said hasn’t changed since her days as a Law student. “In terms of core values and principles, I don't feel I've changed in that way. Family, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, justice—I still feel strongly about all of those issues,” she said.

Going off-island exposed her to social issues she had largely been sheltered from during her childhood on a close-knit island. “The extent of homelessness in California, to children that may have been abandoned or involved in gang activity, the level of violence in parts of a much larger city…those are some of the examples of the exposure that I had that really opened my eyes to these struggles—just in terms of suffering that people were going through and thinking how do we address those problems. How do we help people in need?” Alicia said.

She added that being a Pacific Islander and a woman, she has also “experienced some discrimination in a variety of ways. And that exposure certainly can have an impact,” she said. “You can learn from it, you can find positive ways to address it, and it does toughen you up.”

The winding path to attorney general in 2006 and U.S. attorney in 2010 was more of a natural evolution than a long-term plan, she admitted. What’s next for her is to continue being an advocate for justice for women, children, and families.

“I consider public service to truly be a privilege and an honor. It is a great responsibility.”

“I consider public service to truly be a privilege and an honor,” Alicia revealed. “It is a great responsibility. So I would give very serious consideration to any future opportunity to just serve the people in any capacity where I can contribute. I will continue to work with any organization/individuals who advocate and promote issues that I believe are very critical and important to our communities.”

Her admiration for higher education is also reflected in her time as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Guam and Guam Community College. She only has high praise for anyone who takes on the challenge of college.

“Whether a student attends school here at UOG or GCC, or decides to go off-island, I consider it to be just a great opportunity to further one's education—yes, formally, academically,” Alicia said. “Also to me, just as importantly is being exposed to other people who are from different walks of life, different social and economic backgrounds, beliefs, values…and whether or not you agree, just being exposed, that to me is really a great education. I always encourage people to pursue it. Just pursue it; just not give up.”


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