Two photos of Heejae Lim climbing up to the Observatory in LA.

Featured, Roddenberry Fellowship

10 Questions with Heejae Lim

Heejae Lim
Founder, TalkingPoints


Where is home currently? San Francisco

What is your Hometown? Seoul/London


Tell us more about your project, TalkingPoints! 

TalkingPoints’ mission is to drive student success in low-income communities by using accessible technology to unlock the potential of family engagement in children’s education. Our multilingual engagement platform connects family members and teachers using human and artificial intelligence powered, two-way translated messages and personalized supports —eliminating language, time limitations, and know-how as barriers to school/family connection.


How did you get into this work?

I founded TalkingPoints based on my personal experience growing up as a Korean immigrant student and seeing my mother making a difference in my education because she had the ‘voice’ to do so. I saw my mother become a parent leader in the community I lived in, in the suburbs of London with a heavy Korean immigrant student community. She was the one who communicated with the school and had all the information about what is going on because she was educated and spoke English at the time. Through my mother, I saw the power of what parents had in influencing the outcomes and learning of their children, and later on, studying education, I was able to find so much research that confirmed my lived experience!


What advice would you give your younger self?

Nothing is impossible – don’t let others tell you what you can or cannot do. You need to find out for yourself what you are and you are not capable of, and the only way to do that is by trying and failing! You’re the best judge of your own character and strength so trust your gut and just do it because the sky is the limit : )


Who inspires you?

My parents and my grandmother, who taught me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it


What is the legacy you want to leave?

Having created a change for the communities I belong to and the world that is meaningful, transformational in a way that lifts up those who are weak. I want to die thinking that at least I have tried my best in making the kind of impact that I wanted to create for the future generations that are to come after me.


How can people get involved in the work that you are doing? How can they help you and your project?

Tell the teachers and parents in your network about us – you can find TalkingPoints at talkingpts.org, if you’re bilingual you can volunteer with us by contributing to translations in your own time and at your own leisure through the mobile applications we have developed.


Most recent book you have read

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – I loved the way he paved his own path, relying on his sheer power of passion for something, in this case, which was shoes. He hired his best friends and the best people who had raw intellect and resilience and created a shoe empire from nothing. I admire his candor, his risk-taking and the willingness to follow his raw passion at a time that no one believed his idea.


What is the most important thing, for people outside of your community to know about your work?

That parents and families and their communities can make a transformational impact in a child’s academic, socio-emotional outcomes and general well-being, much more so than a school could on their own — after all 70% of a child’s time is spent outside school, so it’s time for us to focus the resources proportionally to that, recognizing that a parent is a child’s first teacher and always will be!




About the Author

Meet Heejae Lim, a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow. Heejae is the founder of TalkingPoints, a non-profit with a mission to drive student success—especially in underserved, diverse immigrant communities—by using accessible technology to unlock the potential of family engagement in children’s education. Learn more about her work here.