Thy Tran: Knowing her worth

As a child growing up in Danang City in central Vietnam, Thy Tran ’22 dreamed of studying abroad.

“I have always known there are a lot of things in the world that I can learn, and studying abroad can help me achieve my learning possibilities,” she said.

Tran followed her dreams to Seattle, where she earned an associate’s degree at Seattle Central College and then transferred to SPU. She graduated in 2022 with a degree in information systems.

The pandemic and finances made it difficult for Tran to visit her faraway parents and two younger sisters, but the family’s weekly video chats buoyed her strength and motivation.

“Both of my parents are college graduates, and they believe in the importance of education,” she said. “Although it’s really expensive to study abroad, my parents tried their best to financially support me in college.

“Coming from a culture where gender inequality is a great problem and most people there believe women should not work in STEM careers, I am grateful for my parents’ support,” Tran said.

To minimize her college debt, Tran took a high credit load and worked two jobs at SPU as a peer career advisor at the Center for Career and Calling, and as a student web designer in University Communications.

“The counselors and staff at the CCC were incredibly supportive of my career and personal life,” said Tran, who studied data analytics, which combined her love of technology, math, and visual communication. She earned a Google data analytics certificate in the summer of 2021.

Tran was a volunteer web designer for the Minority Veterans of America and an officer for SPU’s Asian American Student Association. While she was a student at SPU,  she helped coordinate a well-attended Lunar New Year celebration on campus.

“It was the first time I saw so many Vietnamese and other Asian students at SPU,” Thy said. “It has always been hard for international students like me around Lunar New Year, as it’s the biggest celebration in Asia when we gather with our family.”

Tran said she could not have attended SPU without the generous financial aid she received, including the Jay Morgensen scholarship, which provided tuition assistance for female undergraduates from China or Southeast Asia. Before her graduation, she was able to meet Morgensen and thank him for his investment in her studies.

“Although my family is amazing and supportive, I’ve known a lot of girls in Southeast Asia who are unable to go to school because their parents believe all they need is a good husband,” she said. “Jay’s generosity gave me courage and boosted my self-confidence. I’m grateful he sees girls like me and believes in our worth.”

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