Celebrating Filipino American History Month: Melissa Lintag Tigbao

Celebrating Filipino American History Month: Melissa Lintag Tigbao

In honor of Filipino American History Month this October, we are proud to highlight Melissa Tigbao, assistant Public Works Director and City Engineer for the City of Vallejo.

Can you tell me about your background?

I am the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines that started off in New York, NY and migrated to Vallejo, California, where I lived most of my life. I attended college at University of California, Davis where I received a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Before coming to work in Vallejo, I worked for a number of Bay Area cities including El Cerrito, Richmond, Pinole, Concord, Pittsburg, Fremont, and San Francisco.

How does your work as Assistant Public Works Director and City Engineer impact the community?

Everything that we do in Public Works is an effort to make our community more safe, accessible, and livable. We maintain and build everything that people use, from roadways and sidewalks to streetlights and traffic signals. One of my duties is running the City’s Capital Improvement Program, which is a Council-adopted list of projects and funding dedicated to public improvement projects. One of our current projects is to rehabilitate the roadways and ensure that there are safe and accessible sidewalks, particularly in areas near schools. I also work on trails, bike lanes, and intersections to try to improve safety for drivers and pedestrians.

What inspired you to pursue a career in civil engineering?

I took a career test in high school and one of the suggested professions was an engineer. When I read about engineering jobs, I came across civil engineering and learned that civil engineers help build the things we use every day — like buildings, sidewalks, roadways, and bridges — all essential to everyday life. Now that I am raising my family here, there’s an even bigger purpose for me as an engineer. My children are in the public school system, driving/riding on the roads, and living in this community. It just made sense to me to pursue this opportunity which would allow me to give back to my community and improve the infrastructure that people depend on every day.

How has your background influenced the way you approach your work?

I do bring a bit of my culture when I approach my work. Filipino culture is to always work together and be positive despite any challenges we may face. Filipino people are hardworking and always have a smile on their face. No matter what I’m doing I try to bring that attitude to my office, and show that I support my staff and that we are all working together to lift each other up.

What does it mean to you to be a Filipino American woman in a STEM field?

It’s important to me to be a positive example for women and people of color. As a Filipino-American woman, I am a minority both in the STEM field and in the government. From my college engineering classes to the meetings I currently attend in the government, there is still a   fraction of the people in the room that are women and minority, so it’s important to make sure that my presence is seen and my voice is heard. I believe a big purpose of mine in the position I hold is being able to represent Asian women. I want to show young people that there are leaders out there that look just like them or someone they know. I am proud to be that face representing the Fil-Am community.

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