VSA Visionary Scholarship Application

UNAVSA Accolade Philanthropy

Who Am I?

I was born, Thành, in a village north of Huế, Việt Nam and put into an orphanage to be adopted. I came to America when only four years old. I am majoring in Computer Science at the University of Arizona and am the current Vice President for VSA. Longboarding is my primary transportation, I enjoy video games, volunteering, and recently have taken on video editing. I work parttime developing internal and external knowledge bases in addition to web programming.

Leadership Activies

I started in an active student organization and leader position by serving as 11th grade representative and then on to Vice President of my high school's student council.

I started late in my high school career because my family took my sister and me across the western part of America as far north as Alaska and far east as Texas.

I attended a small university for my first several years in college. Attending a small university in New Mexico meant there wasn't a VSA and this is one point that the SWUVSA region is trying to work on.

The University of Arizona is where I call home now, ironically, it's the place I left after high school, as an active leader in my school's VSA, I have had the oppotunity to met so many bright members in addition to the joy of working with like minded eboard members. My roles have been to organize fundraisers and work with business relations. Taking on the Vice President position meant I oversaw alot of the internal operations (eboard) and provided my organization and task management towards our numerous general meetings, socials, cultural events and more.

Awards and Honors

Academically in the past, my awards have been few, but I have been blessed by the awards regarding merit I have earned through hard work.

  • 2016 - SWUVSA APEX Diamond Scholarship
  • 2012 - EPSCoR Super Computing Intern
  • 2011 - New Mexico Tech Silver Scholarship
  • 2011 - Microsoft Office Real Life Stories

" How do you shine bright like a diamond? "

That was the question I was asked on my SWUVSA APEX Diamond Scholarship application. " Shine bright like a diamond" can be heard many times in pop music artist, Rihanna's Diamonds song. Recalling that prompt, I remember writing:

I believe there are two main ways to make a diamond shine bright. The first is by shining a very bright light at the diamond as to bounce light, and the second is to improve the structure of the diamond (i.e. how many refractions it produces). I might not be the luminous individual, who is filled with spirit and attracting all the attentions in a crowd. Needless to say, that aspect to shine like a diamond is hard to fix because it is not easy to change one’s personality.

Relfecting back on this opportunity. I became part of the community. Being one of the first Diamond Scholars for my region's first conference means that we will be looked past not just by the individual who attended for free, but because we started the progress.

Reflecting back since APEX, three of the four Diamond Scholars are active Council of School Representatives (COSR) members, serving on their respectable eboard and will be looking out for future Diamond Scholars in our region. Along with my VSA eboard, UofA VSA has begun working with a local baptist church to create a mentorship and tutoring program by helping immigrant adults learn english and working with high school students to complete homework, get advice and stay in tune with their culture. Further to promote academics, a scholarship is being setup where up and coming leaders can get assistance as they take upon a higher education and in the future take the mantle of student VSA leaders in their community.

Shining through the dark

With " Light the Way " as the theme for this year, it got me thinking what light truly is - spectrums in the visible and invisible electromagnetic spectrum. The simple incandescent light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison after repeated tries and his famous quote. "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" - Thomas Edison.

Individual leaders all start from about the same as everyone else, characteristics include team spirit, passion, drive, motivation and a slew of other admirable traits. But I believe above all, an effective leader possesses determination beyond all adversities while staying true to purpose. Leaders can come from any one of us!

Before incandescent light bulbs and the modern age, Fire entrigued the masses and became a source of power. Individuals who harnessed the power of fire were able to rule and guide those surrounding them. Fire can be destructive (forest fires, napalm etc.), and creative at the same time (cooking, pottery, etc.).

Internal flame, as some say may come from our soul, is a mere manifestation of will; the will to act upon a belief. Computers have been modeled on humans by humans because they aren't that much disalike us, we chose to do an action ("do or do not do, there is no try" - Yoda). Individuals true to their internal flame act through smaller task to achieve a dream. Every decision we make is a theoretical yes or no (on/off) and a leader can look through all those small decisions to understand the dream.

For me, I originally felt the purpose of inner light is to guide. I like to think of it as the end of the cave, light at the end of the tunnel. This approach is limited in scope as those who are already outside the cave or deeper in the cave wouldn't be able to see the light. Instead I like to believe that my inner light is a light house. Light shined through a magnifing glass to guide and become a beacon of solitude and direction. Perhaps it's my due to the maritime influence, but when lost on the sea, a light house's beam exists to show where land is, to stay away from running into land. A light house's beam isn't fixed shinning in one direction, no, instead it spins, therefore being efficient. The beam comes around letting sailors know where safety is.

There are definitely so many diverse and unique individuals that we all interact with, many with dissaproving opinions and a fair amount of approving opinions. Getting hung up trying to change dissaproving opinions is a nailbaiting and commonly useless action. Instead, I strive to demonstrate the benefits and through a solid plan, can I truly lead the path for them. The light-dark literary binary is a common point high school and college students are all too familiar with from their literature courses. Individuals are scared of the unknown; it's only biological, stick to safety. To be bold and be safe is to acknowledge the fears to understand the safety and with that, there needs to be a reassuring leader.

Empowing Community

I am adopted. My father is caucasian, born and raised in the Shamokin Valley, California and my mother was a school teacher in Vietnam before the war. She came to America, and I was adopted at the age of three from a Vietnamese orphanage. I haven't been back to Vietnam since then.

Most children, as depicted on popular media, are frightened to hear they have been adopted, they feel they haven't been loved as much, and why did their biological parents leave them? These are just a few questions that I commonly hear from adopted children. I didn't wonder over these questions because I was loved, and I didn't feel any less loved by my new parents. They adopted me as one of their own and showed me their kindness.

In elementary school, I would get bullied for looking Chinese or of being asian in descent. I steered away from large groups in fear of being ridiculed. Pulled back eyes and saying phrases like " ching chong ".

Living in a new land at such a young age can do a lot to anyone. I was in the part of my growth phase commonly known as the Critical Period. During this age range, children are highly susceptable to suggestion, take on language and skills more quickly: so I became assimilated. My birth name Thành changed to become tan and my middle name as I took on Timothy as my legal first name. Many of my peers and individuals meeting me for the first time get confused when I tell them I'm Vietnamese, 100%, born there because of my last name.

Community has brought me to re-evaluate my culture. It has made me pursue cultural traditions, history, cuisine and more. What I felt and experienced when younger shouldn't happen to anyone regardless of status and inequality. We look to our kin when in trouble and I want to empower the members of my school's VSA to be active members of the inititive towards Asian Pacific American Studies programs, mentorship and tutoring to the youth as they too lose connection to their culture. I want to encourage our youth to take upon the college education, so they can learn about social injustice, make lasting change on campus and beyond!

In ten years, I will be turning 33, according to quantumrun, predictions for 2026 includes brain to brain interactions, fully self-driven vehicles and a global popular over 8.1 billion. The future is always changing, perhaps I don't make it to my 33rd birthday, but momentum follows on past us, our legacies don't have to be etched on the walls of giant stone museums, but rather the hearts of those we inspired. I'm optimistic of our future and I believe the Vietnamese community will grow to see its youth well educated, properous and in a world where differences are taken lightly; potential governs own success. To get there, I don't have all the answers or a huge document outlining it, but by adopting and countering adversity can we all lead forward to remove social injustice that restricts true potential to shine brighter than any light house. From our individual VSA's, we all can build the dream of a better Vietnamese community, from organizers who develop new engaging programs to the individual volunteering a couple hours tutoring a child, we all have potential. With the guidance of experienced and inspiring leaders, no one will feel that these efforts are extrenuous or effort, but rather a passion.