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Business Student Becomes Inaugural Recipient of Minh Tâm Nguyễn Endowment Fund

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Cal State Fullerton senior Thu Pham is majoring in business administration with a concentration in real estate and a minor in public relations. From her home country of Vietnam to the campus of CSUF, Pham has been committed to generosity and community support. Her ambition, goals and academic drive led her to become the first recipient of the Minh Tâm Nguyễn Endowment Fund for International Education.

An Opportunity Arises

Pham’s introduction to the endowment fund started when she visited the International Programs office at CSUF. Displayed in the office was a bright, colorful poster that featured a photo of the Nguyễn family. Intrigued and drawn to the poster, Pham wanted to more about the family and the Minh Tâm Nguyễn Endowment Fund for International Education.

She learned that Tam Nguyễn ’05 (MBA), together with his sister Linh ’98, ’17 (B.A. business administration-management, MBA), established the fund in honor of their late father, Minh Tâm Nguyễn. The goal of the scholarship is to support students who want to study abroad and international students who want to study at CSUF.

“This scholarship both exemplifies and honors the tremendous life story and perseverance of Minh Tâm Nguyễn,” said Debra Leahy, associate vice president for international programs. “We are incredibly grateful to the Nguyen family for their generous gift that will now allow CSUF students to extend his legacy through their own hard work and subsequent future endeavors.”

Pham decided to apply.

The Surprise of a Lifetime

Pham’s journey took an unexpected turn one day when she received an email announcing that she was a finalist for the endowment fund award. She was invited to meet and sit down with the Nguyễn family, so they could get to know more about her.

“Everybody was there, including the associate vice president for international programs,” said Pham. “And when I turn around, I see the family, and they said, ‘Surprise! You’re actually the winner, and we wanted to tell you in person.’ I was just so in shock. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Giving Back

While receiving the scholarship was a momentous occasion for Pham, her mind always remained on giving back to others.

“I made a commitment to myself that if I did receive the scholarship, I would donate 10% to an orphanage in Central Highlands, Vietnam, which is where I come from,” said Pham.

Pham has been supporting this orphanage with her allowance, and with the scholarship funds, she plans to make an even more significant contribution.

Future Plans

Looking ahead, Pham aims to blend her business ambitions with her philanthropic spirit.

“After I finish my degree, I plan to expand my family business over here,” she said.

Pham’s family is deeply rooted in Vietnam’s coffee industry, which is the second largest coffee exporter in the world. She aims to import Vietnamese coffee to the U.S. and distribute it to vendors or wholesalers.

In addition to business endeavors, Pham is committed to personal growth. She intends to use part of her scholarship to enroll in classes focused on public speaking, interpersonal skills and financial management.

“There are fall classes that I want to take so that I can be more prepared in the marketplace and become competitive anywhere in the world,” she said.

Pham’s story exemplifies the transformative power of global exchange and community support. Her achievements and aspirations not only honor the Minh Tam Nguyen Endowment Fund for International Education, but also inspire other students to pursue their dreams of international education.

Visit the International Programs website to learn more about international student opportunities at CSUF. Visit the giving page to support the Minh Tâm Nguyễn Endowment Fund for International Education.

Charis Hill