Tepring Piquado, ’97, who attended SCDS in grades 7-12 and taught math and science courses from 2001-04, is running for an empty seat in California’s 54th Assembly District. The special election will be held on Tuesday, April 3.
Q: Where did you get your unusual name?
A: I was named after a Vulcan woman named T’Pring who was betrothed to Spock on the original “Star Trek.” I like to think that because of my name I am influenced by logic and reason.
Q: What is it like being a woman running for office right now?
A: As a computer science major and then (going) on to get my doctorate in neuroscience, I’ve been in (a) position where I’ve been one of a few, or the only, woman or minority in a classroom or in a business meeting, and I’ve been marginalized.
(But) I’ve grown up, and I’ve been able to assert myself, use my voice and not let myself be bullied.
So while I think there are real problems (for) female leaders, female colleagues and female students, I believe I have the background experience, expertise and confidence to stand up to anyone that is misbehaving.
Q: Did you participate in student government at Country Day?
A: I was our student representative in ninth, 10th and 11th grades. I ran for student-body president, but I didn’t get it.
Q: Have you always known you wanted to run for political office?
A: I don’t think I really thought that I was going to be politically active, although I did go to Georgetown (University), which has a long history of amazing political figures.
I really started being interested in that kind of public service when I was a science fellow. I earned my doctorate in neuroscience, and I had the opportunity to apply for a position called a Science and Technology Fellow at the state Capitol.
It was there that I started to understand the way that a public policy researcher or (having) a research background could really influence the legislative process.
So I finished that year, and then I went to RAND Corporation, (which) focuses on research and analysis for public policy decision makers. That really started my career aspiration to become an official and serve in that capacity.
Q: What makes you a good person for the job?
A: I’m a neuroscientist, and I work on a variety of topics. My research has been figuring out ways to help first responders and veterans, as well as to help students obtain degrees in higher education.
I’ve focused on improving (the) lives of individuals. I push for fact-based policies (rather than) wasting taxpayers’ money on outdated systems.
Also, before my work as a scientist and policy researcher, I was a teacher at Country Day, and I also taught (in the Los Angeles area) at Renaissance Academy Charter School.
I know that what will make me good at the Capitol is having first-hand experience of what families, students and parents are dealing with.
That (also) translates to the opportunity I have to give back to communities and families in the Los Angeles area that are dealing with underperforming schools and to think about solutions to offer families better choices to access quality schools and to help underrepresented minorities and women (get) higher degrees, especially in the STEM field.
And I have a focus on service. My grandparents were in the Air Force, my dad was a teacher, my grandma was a preschool teacher and my husband is a Long Beach police sergeant, so I know from first-hand experience that we need to do more to keep our neighborhoods safe and to reduce break-ins and crimes.
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: “Liars, Lovers and Heroes: What the New Brain Science Reveals About How We Become Who We Are.” It is a great book that tells about the brain and (the) world that makes us who we are. After reading (it), I started my path toward becoming a neuroscientist.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I am a distance runner with 10 half-marathons in 2016. I have finished four full marathons.
Q: Were any of your Country Day classes particularly memorable?
A: My Latin class with (teacher Jane) Batarseh. My favorite part was walking-and-learning days. Ms. B let us walk around the outside field as she gave us a lesson. It was a nice change of pace. I still think that impressed upon me the importance of having a healthy mind and body.
—By Anna Frankel