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VIBE Scholarship winners: Mark Pham, Tamara Tran, Katrina Ho, Jennifer Do and Tung Tran.

Students Awarded $1,500 Each for Education

VIBE Scholarship Winners ‘Golden Examples’ of Next Generation

December 10, 2007

By Debra Cano Ramos

Five Cal State Fullerton Vietnamese American students have been recognized as “golden examples” of what can be achieved by their generation

Undergraduates Jennifer Do, Katrina Ho, Mark Pham and Tung T. Tran, and graduate student Tamara Tran were awarded $1,500 “Next Golden Idea” Scholarships during the Vietnamese International Bridging Expo held in celebration of the university’s 50th anniversary.

“The high number of applications that VIBE received indicates that there is a great need for these types of scholarships,” said Tu-Uyen Nguyen, assistant professor of Asian American studies, who served on the scholarship review committee. “The students honored with these scholarships and the generations after them are golden examples of the exciting legacies we can all nurture for the future.”

The scholarship winners are varied in their majors and academic and community activities, but they all exhibit a passion and dedication for their respective fields of study and outstanding drive and commitment to contribute to the local CSUF community, the Vietnamese American community and the larger global community, Nguyen said. “These five students are inspirational examples of the diversity and exceptional caliber of students on this campus.”

Cal State Fullerton alumnus Tam Nguyen, VIBE president, said that the scholarship recipients are among the best and brightest student leaders on campus.
“VIBE has planted the seeds for the next generation of young leaders. These scholars are in the position to not only give back to the university, but also to the community,” he said.

Here’s a look at the scholarship winners and their hopes and dreams for the future.

Kinesiology major Jennifer Do hopes to complete her bachelor's degree in spring 2008 and then enter the university's teacher credential program to eventually become a physical education instructor.

Do, who is president of the Vietnamese Student Association and a member of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations, said that the scholarship “will help me greatly in alleviating the financial burden associated with the pursuit of higher education. It will give me the financial security necessary to complete my educational goal and pursue my career as a teacher.

“The Vietnamese community has been essential to my success,” said the scholar, who hopes to give back to the community by support charitable efforts like Viet Act and getting involved in “human trafficking issues, educating Vietnamese youth about their community and culture, and bringing VIBE back to Cal State Fullerton in another 50 years.”

Katrina Ho, an English major, is planning on continuing her education at Cal State Fullerton after graduation next spring. “After earning my master’s, I will work to get my Ph.D. My career goal is to become an English professor at the university level.

“I will use the money to help take classes this summer. I decided not to work this semester because I wanted to focus on my schoolwork,” said Ho, who is a member of the Vietnamese and Vietnamese Catholic Student associations , as well as the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society.

“One of my ultimate goals is to teach non-native speakers to be fluent in English,” Ho said. “As an immigrant who struggled with learning English, and who was teased by my own peers, I am determined to teach those who are in the same situation as I was. My target students are those who struggle with English, the elderly who never had the chance to learn English, and those who just do not want to be looked down upon by other people because they don’t speak English well enough.”

Following his graduation with a degree in human services, Mark Pham would like to earn a master's degree in social work and “work simultaneously toward a doctorate in the same field. Upon graduation, I hope to work in the public sector to improve the way services are delivered and evaluated by combining appropriate theoretical framework to practical needs and efficacies of a community. Eventually, I wish to work for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and help it become a priority within our federal government.”

Pham serves on the Associated Student Inc. board of directors, representing the College of Health and Human Development. “I was a director of Project Read, a program of Cal State Fullerton’s Volunteer & Service Center and I am a certified sexual assault counselor where I respond to calls on a rape crisis hot line.”

Like his fellow scholarship recipients, Pham will use the scholarship funds to pay for his education. “I am blessed to have two parents who support me. However, in all but my first semester at the university, I have worked at least two jobs at a time to ensure flexibility in my hours, as well as pay for my education, transportation and medical bills.”

One goal Pham has in giving back to the Vietnamese American community would be to help bring about a “comprehensive community center that would house a museum, theater and have an endowment program that would send qualified volunteers to Vietnam as ambassadors. The museum cannot afford to safely avoid political issues, but must fully present the true devastation of war and poverty.”

Alumna Tamara Tran (B.A. child and adolescent studies '06), who is currently working on a teacher credential, came to the United States from Vietnam in 1990. She overcame the language and cultural barriers, minored in sociology in her undergraduate studies, and now would like to not only teach but help families and children with their problems. “I’m also thinking about getting a master’s degree in reading to help students read because literacy is important.

“This scholarship will help me academically and financially, and also allow me to be more involved with campus and community life,” said Tran who is a member of the Vietnamese Catholic Student Association and Post Caritas, “a youth group where members share their faith and serve those in need.

“I believe in helping those who are less fortunate, such as homeless and oppressed people,” she noted.“ I go to monthly feedings of the homeless at the Santa Ana Civic Center; I visit nursing homes in Garden Grove; and I raise money for underprivileged children in Vietnam.

“When I partake in these kinds of events I get a sense of humbleness and gratefulness for what I have, as well as compassion for those who are suffering on a daily basis because their basic needs aren’t met. I would definitely encourage everyone to be involved in the extracurricular activities that spark their interests to better enrich their college experience and the betterment of mankind by making differences in our communities.”

Tung T. Tran hopes to complete his bachelor's degree in biological science in 2008 and then enroll in a joint medical/doctoral degree program. “This joint degree would allow me to perform clinical research for some of the nationally recognized and world-renowned laboratories. I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that some day my hard work and dedication will be a primary contributing factor to saving thousands of lives.

“I also hope to become a professor and impart my passion and skills in research onto the next generation of students,” said Tran, who is involved in the Minority Biomedical Research Support program and president of the Golden Key International Honor Society on campus, as well as being a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the San Diego Microbiology Group. “The professors at Cal State Fullerton have immensely impacted my life and I believe that my career choice would ultimately extend their positive influence on society.

Born into a family of nine children, Tran said that the scholarship will supplement the financial needs that his family can not provide. “My family has experienced the realities of financial hardships. My mother and father continue to work tireless 14-hour days to provide their children with the educational opportunities that seemed like a distant dream during their generation. The journey that lies ahead is long and arduous, but with this scholarship I know I will prove myself a worthy recipient.

When asked how he hopes to give back to his community, Tran said, “On Aug. 10, 1952, in Hanoi, my newborn father lay in the arms of his mother. The very same day, his father was laying on his deathbed. My grandfather’s death was later attributed to a simple case of pneumonia. My intent of obtaining a joint M.D./Ph.D. would allow me to become a researcher to better understand the best approaches to eradicating these common types of illnesses from our poverty stricken Vietnamese communities. Historically, Vietnamese families all around the world have been torn apart from the lack of basic amenities. I hope to put a stop to these problems by attacking their biomedical basis.”

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