Patent examiner (pharmaceutical and biotechnology) Alicia Hughes recently received Alexandria’s 2009 Rising Star Award. Hughes was honored by the Alexandria Commission for Women at the Annual Salute to Women Awards Program on March 30 in Old Town Alexandria for her work in the community to benefit women and children.
Ms. Hughes holds a B.S. in Biology from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Florida, where her academic interests were concentrated in the areas of health policy, intellectual property and international and comparative law.
A former Miss Black USA, public school teacher, and congressional staffer, Hughes is no stranger to community outreach for the betterment of women, children, and families. From her vantage point, service isn’t an option inasmuch as it is an obligation. Enjoying her ideal job as a patent examiner by day, she exercises her passion for people in her private time through volunteerism and social policy advocacy.
Hughes currently serves as a member of the Alexandria Early Childhood Commission, Alexandria Social Services Advisory Board and Alexandria City Schools Budget Advisory Committee. To give her greater insight to benefit those she seeks to serve in making policy, Hughes has made a weekly commitment to working with preschoolers for part of her Tuesday afternoons, and working with elementary and middle school children for part of Wednesday afternoons. Hughes looks at policy issues much like she looks at law and science, her two great academic loves. “In order to understand what drives behavior, and how to create policies that enable me to optimally encourage the best outcomes, I have to actively engage issues,” explains Hughes. “That’s why I love my job and that’s why I love working with kids.”
Hughes chairs a literacy program at the Charles Houston Recreation Center and serves as a mentor to inner-city girls through Step Out, a joint collaboration between the Alexandria Office on Women and her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. She also reads to children at the Hopkins House Early Childhood Center. When asked what drives her active participation, Hughes simply stated, “It gives my life balance and greater meaning.” In addition to working with children, Hughes also does much in the way of leadership development and training.
Last year, Hughes was selected for and has participated in the Leadership Alexandria Class of 2009, working collaboratively with leaders in Alexandria’s public and private sectors to better understand ways to improve local governance. She was also selected as a University of Virginia Sorensen Institute Political Leaders Fellow, the Commonwealth’s competitive flagship program for emerging community leaders. She takes the leadership skills she has derived over time and continues to hone through these programs to aid in her active participation on the Development and Training Committee of the Junior League of Washington, an organization of more than 2,200 women dedicated to improving the community through volunteerism.
When asked to explain her greatest reward, Hughes said, “My greatest reward is the affection I receive from the children I serve. It is a great feeling to know that based on my success and my nearness to them, the kids believe that they can become whatever they choose to be that’s good.” Hughes shared her greatest concern stating, “Reconciling the divide in behavior I witness from two and five year olds that I see on Tuesday afternoons with the behavior that runs rampant amidst the seven to fourteen year olds that I work with on Wednesday afternoons. Something happens between the ages of five and seven that totally augments behavior patterns in a way that is harmful. The latter is a critical time and we have to reverse a number of these negative behavioral trends to ensure the success of our future.”
In looking long-term, Hughes’ objective, both at the USPTO and in the community at-large, is simply to succeed, as defined by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
As she continues to explore ways in which she can make a difference, Hughes’ present is occupied with a run for the Alexandria City Council, an interest made possible by an exception in the Hatch Act for federal employees in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. She is running as an Independent.
Source: multiple sources