Tyler Quillin Knows About the Power of Connection.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a 2011 Honors College graduate from the University of Arizona. I majored in Philosophy and English Literature. I went on to join Teach For America and taught 6th and 7th-grade special education on the Big Island of Hawai’i, earning my Master’s in Special Education from the Chaminade University of Honolulu. I met my wife while teaching the same students. We now have four kids of our own and live in the Seattle area. I earned my law degree from the University of Washington and after working at a big national law firm in Seattle, I joined Microsoft.
In what ways has your Honors experience had an impact on your career path and who you are today? Who or what inspired you most?
I’m a big proponent of challenging yourself as much as possible so that when you are presented with a new challenge, you are battle tested and prepared. The Honors College did that for me. I loved tackling challenging coursework with my exceptional peers. I also think that there is something to be said about whom you surround yourself with and my fellow Honors College students pushed me to be better and set my sights higher. I have sought out similar influences in every setting I’ve found myself in since, whether it be professionally or in graduate school.
As Principal Corporate Counsel at Microsoft, what are you most passionate about in your work? What are some of your biggest challenges?
I love Microsoft’s mission – “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” That vision empowers the culture and our work. I support Xbox now and I have been a gamer since I can remember. Getting to be the lawyer negotiating the deals and agreements that help craft the future of gaming both from a cloud gaming and hardware/devices standpoint is just a dream come true. It doesn’t hurt on the “cool dad” front at home, either. I have a bunch of big challenges, but that is par for the course at a company founded on innovation. I am often playing amateur engineer, trying to understand what new frontier my clients are trying to trek toward. I must understand what is happening technically so that I can analyze where and how the law applies to our proposed projects.
Tell us about your recent role as the president-elect of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington:
As a Latinx man from a family of immigrants, my lived experience has instilled in me a cultural value of service and community. It is from that cornerstone that I find my motivation for civic service, coupled with my role as a father, setting an example for my kids. Add onto that my privilege as an attorney, I see my service as also an obligation to give back. That said, I am excited to take the helm as president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington (LBAW), our statewide organization of Latinx attorneys. We provide several services to the community, among them being a free monthly legal clinic, judicial evaluations for those seeking judgeships, community-building, and mentorship, as well as scholarship opportunities for law students and undergraduates pursuing law school. We are over 400 members strong, spanning all corners of Washington. I am proud to lead the organization and eager for the opportunity ahead as we emerge from this pandemic with a renewed commitment to each other and our mission.
What advice do you have for students (specifically Hispanic and underrepresented students) who wish to attend college and how to best navigate that journey?
Imposter syndrome is real and if I could impress one thing in every student wishing to pursue college or other higher education, it would be that YOU ABSOLUTELY BELONG AND ARE NEEDED! You have so many people rooting for you that you have never met, me included. We are here to support you and help you in any way we can. You can. You will. And you must, for all those who came before you and all those that will come behind you. Believe in yourself and reach out to folks like myself that are ready and willing to push you forward. Lastly, don’t forget to reach back and help those following your path. Together, we can do anything.
The Quillin Family in front of Old Main
There are many ways for alumni to give back. What forms of engagement do you look for or find most valuable?
I am a relationship guy. I love meeting people. I love hearing about their story and journey. And I love learning from other peoples’ experiences. In that vein, I love connecting with students and alumni. I currently serve as an alumni mentor as part of Honors LINK, a mentoring program through the Wildcat Mentor Society at UAZ. I may not work in every student’s desired industry, or come from their same hometown, etc., but I am always down to connect and always happy to help however I can. Maybe they can learn from one of my failures or maybe I know someone who could help them elsewhere. You never know. Meeting people with an open mind and a desire to serve has been far and away the most valuable means of giving back but also growing my own self.
As a proud University of Arizona Honors Alumni, what were some of your favorite college memories? Is there anything you miss about Tucson?
Oh, man. Too many to share! I loved standing up for the ASUA student mentorship program and leveraging student experiences to help our fellow students. I loved performing with the Charles Darwin Experience, even though I was just the musician and was terrible at the improv side of things. I loved sitting at the 50-yard line in the ZonaZoo cheering on the Cats and watching Nick Foles throw bombs to Juron Criner! I loved the late nights at the library with my friends, delirious, tired, and goofy from all the caffeine and sleep deprivation. I loved going to the on-campus observatories to see the most incredible images of the stars.
Any final words of wisdom for young alumni who are just starting out in their careers?
I tell most young alumni I get the chance to meet to reach out and leverage the alumni network. When you reach out to alumni, make sure to do your research. Know who they are, what they do, etc. Have some questions about their career or experiences. These connections can be so valuable and helpful as you continue to expand your network. The first person might not have a lead on a job, but the more you meet, the more chances there are that they know someone.
Each one of us has so many people that we have never met who are rooting for us to succeed, for us to achieve our goals. These folks, like myself, are just waiting for folks to reach out, so we can help in any way we can. You sit at the precipice of infinite opportunity. Use all the resources at your disposal to achieve your dreams.
Oh, and never forget to Bear Down… always.