Grad profile

Linda Liu

Linda Liu. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

You’re not going to reach your dream by just thinking about it."

Linda Liu has always loved storytelling. She grew up in a small town near Beijing but when her family moved to the city, she discovered her accent made it harder to express herself—so she turned to writing: “In that way, I felt like I could finally get my voice out.”

Today, the self-described introvert says she has found her voice in a new way: as an employment advisor with the Neil Squire Society, a non-profit that helps individuals with disabilities find work and lead independent lives.

Linda didn’t find her rewarding new career until a few years after completing her BA in psychology at SFU. Feeling “a bit lost,” she met with a career advisor—and discovered she wanted to do what he was doing. She wanted to help people change their lives and give them the tools to do so.

To achieve her dream, she signed up for the Career Development Practitioner Certificate program at SFU Continuing Studies. In a close-knit cohort of classmates, Linda found the confidence to use her voice, to ask questions and contribute to class discussions. She also found inspiration in one of her favourite instructors: “She’s the first female role model to show me you can be kind and powerful at the same time.”

Linda now uses what she’s learned in her work every day. “The program was really strategic,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been given lots of tools. It’s a bridge between my knowledge and how to apply that to the real world.”

Her proudest achievement? “I connect with each individual that comes to my office. I can’t solve the problem for them, but that’s not my goal. I want to empower them. I think that’s something really special about the work I do.”

But Linda hasn’t lost her passion for storytelling, which she now does through photography. Earlier this year she started a project titled Stories Under the City Lights, in which she photographs and interviews people from diverse walks of life about their dreams. “Photos allow people to see their own emotions, and it gives them a sense of appreciation of who they are.”

One day, Linda hopes to launch her own practice. And with her enthusiasm, that day could be soon. “You’re not going to reach your dream by just thinking about it,” she says. “You have to take action!” 

You’re not going to reach your dream by just thinking about it."

More about Linda

What is one food you could never give up?

Rice. I know it’s boring, but if I could choose only one, it’s rice.

What are you reading right now?

Chris Guillebeau’s Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do. He talks about nonconformity, and it inspired me to think outside the box.

Do you have any hidden talents?

This year, I told myself I want to challenge one fear, which for me was public speaking. So I joined Toastmasters. And when I went up on stage, I actually felt a sense of peace. I felt like I really killed it… and now I love public speaking!

Who would be your dream dinner date?

My grandpa. He’s still alive, but he no longer recognizes who I am. I would have dinner with him, and ask him to tell me one of his stories, one more time.