May 4, 2020 - As a youth in China, William Y. Sim's vision of the “American Dream” came via Hollywood and the pages of the Sears catalog.
His pursuit of that dream began in 1952 when at the age of 17 he emigrated from Hong Kong where he was attending an English boarding school to learn the language. “At that time, all the young people wanted to come to America for education and opportunities,” he said.
His journey eventually took him to the then-Bates College of Law where he earned his J.D. in 1969 and with it the distinction of being the first Asian American to graduate from the school. Current enrollment is about 10%.
The pathway to his current successful law career, however, was far from direct. In the years since arriving in the states, he attended college in Kansas, waited on tables at a Chinese restaurant, sold Fuller Brushes door-to-door, served two years in the U.S. Army as a surgical nurse to earn his citizenship, and in 1958 moved to Houston.
He earned a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962 and went to work for the nation’s largest pharmaceutical company where he rose to become director of sales and marketing for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Corporate executives urged him to go to law school to prepare for the day when China would open to foreign trade. But, tired of constant travel, Sim opted to practice law in Houston instead of traveling the globe.
Today, he practices immigration law at the Sim Law Office with his son and partner, Troy, a 1999 graduate of the Law Center. His daughter, May, a 1994 UHLC graduate, also practiced with the firm for several years. Another daughter, Stephanie, is a physician. Sim has served on the advisory board of the school’s Immigration Clinic.
He credits the law school with providing the knowledge and skills that helped him attain the “American Dream” he envisioned as a youth. Has life in the United States lived up to his expectations? “Yes, and 100% more!”
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