Nhan Hoang left Vietnam for the United States when he was 16. He came to the US in search of a better life. “I have been working since I was six,” he said. “My family lived in poverty and there weren’t many opportunities for us.”
Hoang settled in Olympia. Those early months were difficult. “I didn’t know the language,” he said. “It’s hard when you go to the store and you’re hungry but you don’t know how to communicate so you don’t check out, you just walk back home.”
Hoang enrolled in the English-intensive program at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). Over time, and with the help of peers, Hoang made the decision to get involved on campus. “I realized that I wanted to challenge myself, to think outside the box and be a better person,” he said.
Hoang already had a major in mind when he transferred. “Community service and people are what I value and business is my strength,” he said. Hoang graduates in June with a degree in business administration with a marketing emphasis and a minor in global engagement. He’s also part of the University’s Global Honors program.
Hoang’s long-term goal is to attend law school. He is interested in the legal issues surrounding global business law, specifically fair trade and the use of cheap labor. “I want to bring more fairness and equity to the field of business,” he said.
It should not come as a surprise that Hoang has been named to this year’s Husky 100. The tri-campus award honors students who have made the most of their time on campus. Hoang has done a little bit of everything while at UW Tacoma. Among other things, he has served as student senator for the Milgard School of Business and was a member of the Council for Student Engagement. He also served as the University’s mascot coordinator.
Hoang is perhaps most proud of his work as a Support Program Coordinator for the Office of Student & Enrollment Services. “I help mentor and coordinate different services for those students who need support,” he said. Hoang’s commitment to others extends beyond the campus footprint. He recently completed an internship with United Way of Pierce County and helped with the organization’s mission of removing barriers that prevent families from breaking the cycle of poverty.
The recognition that comes with being in the Husky 100 is great, but Hoang sees a different value in the recognition. For him, the award provides him the chance to tell his story to a broader audience. “It’s a good way to be a role model, to empower people who have a similar background as me, to show them they can be successful,” he said.
Hoang’s time at UW Tacoma is drawing to a close. Looking back, he says he has learned a lot both in and out of the classroom. “Students here all have their own story, their own views, and their own uniqueness but we fight in the same battle to make the world a better place,” he said. “As global citizens, it’s our mission to help others because great things happen when we’re united.”
Optimism seems to be a big part of Hoang’s personality. He has had to overcome considerable obstacles to get to where he is today. Hoang’s personal journey has affirmed a faith in his own abilities. “This adventure gave me more power to believe anything is possible,” he said. “I see the problems I face as opportunities to challenge myself and be a better person.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org