William Tong ’91: First Chinese-American Attorney General in US History

At Andover, William Tong ’91 was a School President and an Upper Representative.

William Tong ’91 became the first Chinese-American Attorney General in the history of the United States on November 6, when he was elected in the state of Connecticut. 

According to Tong, his civil duties as the Attorney General in Connecticut are manifold.

“Everything the Attorney General does in Connecticut is all civil, and what I do as [Attorney General] is protect and defend Connecticut families from abuse as consumers, to environmental changes, or other actions that prejudice their rights, safety, or health,” said Tong in an interview with The Phillipian.

In addition to being Attorney General, Tong is also the first Asian-American Constitutional Officer in the history of Connecticut. As a Democrat with a decade of experience in public service, he serves as the 25th Chief Civil Law Enforcement officer and also acts as the legal advisor and lawyer for his state. Currently, he also serves on the Connecticut House of Representatives.

“I was very proud to be the first Asian-American Constitutional Officer in the history of our state. Constitutional Offices are offices that are created by the state constitution, and that includes the governor and the senate governor, there are a variety of others, but there are six of us total. So I’m the first Asian-American to hold any of those roles,” said Tong.

Tong has helped pass historic laws defending the LGBTQIA+ community, protected victims of domestic abuse, reformed a system of mass incarceration, and supported families through financial crises, according to Tong’s main goals are to fight for fairness and justice.

Tong credits his success to the opportunities and education that Andover provided.

“Andover was probably the single most important academic experience of my life. There are so many ways in which it has impacted me, but chief among them, I had a general sense that I wanted to dedicate and commit my life to service, and that I wanted to do that through public service and potentially through elective office,” said Tong.

Tong says he believes that Andover gave him the chance to explore his desire to lead and serve. He particularly enjoyed his time both on the Student Council and as School President, as they allowed him to shape important skills he would end up using throughout his life.

Tong said, “At that time, we had three Uppers who were known as Upper [Representatives] and they were the three Upper Representatives in the Student Council. I was one of the three Upper Reps and then I became the School President when the school had one. It helped to validate that this was something that I found meaningful, that I had a lot to contribute to my classmates and to the school, and that I started to develop those leadership skills while in high school.”

According to Tong, his favorite memory at Andover was being welcomed to campus for the first time and welcoming new students himself as School President three years later. Tong says he believes that these two moments mark his entire Andover experience and the transition out of it.

Tong said, “It’s my first day when you drive up and there are Blue Key [Heads] out on the street in front of Cochran Chapel and they’re cheering and screaming and welcoming you to the school and then bringing you into the Chapel. For that very first event experienced as a student, I still remember feeling really excited and really hopeful that day about the experience to come.”

“And then, three years later, it was my job as the School President to welcome all the new Juniors and Lowers and new students by speaking at that assembly on the very first day. I felt like I had come full circle and that really wrapped up for me and encapsulated my whole experience at the school,” continued Tong.

Tong’s advice to students is to push themselves to explore everything that Andover has to offer. He believes that high school —  especially a boarding school like Andover — is the kind of place that provides numerous opportunities to try new things.

Tong said, “I think Andover gives you a lot of freedom and independence and it challenges you to challenge yourself, and I think sometimes you don’t know what you’re capable of and it’s important to take risks and to push yourself harder.”

Many of the friendships Tong built still last to today, and, according to Tong, he treasures them greatly.

“I’m very close to a lot of my high school friends, not all necessarily in my year, but I have a lot of friends across class years. I think our class, 1991, is particularly close and good at staying in touch, so the relationships are very strong and they’ve endured,” said Tong.

Tong continued, “Let me just say that I’m incredibly proud to be a graduate of this school. I think so much of what I learned about service I learned at Andover, and there are so many great memories. There really are.”