What’s your official job title and function at LIDS?
I’m an administrative assistant. There are five different faculty members that I support. I process lots of requests—travel, supporting student visitors. I also help with coordinating events at LIDS, like the LIDS Student Conference, or the Friday socials. And I’m always here if headquarters needs support.
Sounds like a lot of responsibilities. Do you ever get worn out?
I do a lot of things, but I love it. I have a lot of energy, it’s just who I am. It makes me happy when I make something happen and everyone gets what they need.
How long have you been at LIDS?
Since October 2000, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. There’s always something exciting here, which is great. I’m a people person, I like working with the community, making people happy.
What were you doing before you came here?
I was working at the Framingham Public Library, doing bookkeeping. I had heard a lot of good things about MIT, and a friend told me about a job opening, and I came in. I was lucky; I got the job. It was a new thing for me to work in academia. MIT has a lot of opportunities for employees, so much training and so many courses, so many skills to learn here.
Where did you grow up?
I’m originally from Cambodia. I moved to the US in 1975 after the communist takeover. I left with my four-year-old daughter and four-month-old son, and my mom and dad. We left by boat for Thailand. We were lucky enough to know an American officer who brought us over to America. When we first got here we lived in an army camp in Pennsylvania, sleeping in bunk beds, for three months.
How do you like living in Boston?
I love Massachusetts. I love Boston. People here are very nice. Here, if you make friends, they’re your friends for good; they’re like family. That’s what I love about living here. And I have the best job in the world. I’ve been at LIDS almost nine years, and I still love what I’m doing. It’s a great environment, working with all the students from different countries and with all of the different faculty with their different personalities.
Do you have any interesting stories from your time at LIDS?
I caught a burglar in the building once, completely by accident. I saw this big guy walk past me, and I asked if I could help him. He told me he was looking for someone, and walked away. I got suspicious, because usually people have a room number or a floor, so I followed him all the way to the elevator. I asked him if he had found who he was looking for, and he said “No,” and took the elevator down. I called headquarters, and the police came, and it turns out it was a thief they had been looking for who had been loitering around campus. They said, “Lynne, you had nerve.” I said, “Well I didn’t know he was a thief!”
What do you do when you’re not working?
I’ve been writing my memoir for almost three years now. I have a lot of stories to tell. I’m working on it with a friend. Right now it’s about 170 pages long, and we’re looking for a publisher. I’m also active in the Cambodian Community of Massachusetts—I was the President of their Board of Directors for five years and even did a newscast for Cambodian cable television. I also took a screenwriting class at Harvard Extension, which was great, and let me meet a lot of interesting people. Maybe one day I can make my memoir into a movie.