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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Career Services Tops Trustee’s Agenda


UMass Boston Student Trustee Tuan Pham

Fresh off the basketball court and between chicken tenders, Student Trustee Tuan Pham is just as equipped as any elected official.

Armed with a killer smile, a mind for business, and a semester at Oxford under his belt, this senior Finance major will represent UMass Boston’s student body this year at the university’s quarterly Board of Trustees meetings.

“My role is to represent myself and the 13,000 students that are here,” says Pham. The student trustee, a full-time member of the Board of Trustees, is elected campus-wide every April by the entire student body – graduates and undergraduates. There are twenty-two trustees in all with one student trustee from each campus, who make policy, such as controlling tuition and tenure.

Pham has been involved in the student Senate throughout his academic career, holding the positions of senator, vice-president, and president before securing his current office. He resigned from the post of president last December to go to Oxford University, and returned in April to win the position of trustee. He maintains that his experience in student government can only aid the process.

“In the past, the student government presidents did not [report] to the trustees or the trustees didn’t collaborate well with the student government presidents,” he says. “This year I want to make it different. Because I have the experience of all these different positions in student government, because I have relationships with trustee members and university officials, I know how the process works. I want this student government to discuss with me issues that are relevant to them that would be applicable for me to report to the board.

A Braintree-resident who moved to the U.S. from Vietnam at age 4, Pham plans to keep international student concerns at the top of his agenda. “I have a close relationship with international students. They tell me that they’re not completely satisfied with the way they’re being treated on this campus, and I look forward to helping them make that leap,” he says. “They pay a lot of money to go here, twice -or even more -than you or I…It’s important that we recognize their contributions, not only their intellectual contributions, [but also] their financial contributions, [and] their contributions to the context of diversity.”

Working closely with Interim Chancellor J. Keith Motley, Pham hopes to help streamline international student services at UMass Boston. He expects that these efforts should lead to a centralized facility, much like the Campus Center’s “One Stop Shop,” but with a focus on the specialized issues of the international student. Furthermore, the student trustee intends to set up an endowment to provide international students with annual scholarship opportunities. Pham says he feels that aggressively pursuing these types of issues will combat students from choosing other area institutions that provide this sort of aid to international students, and thus preserve an integral portion of the UMass Boston student population.

Pham says, as student trustee, it is the international student population that he is committed to providing with a voice and perpetuating its unique contrast to most college campus populaces. “We’re not as spoiled as other kids. We know we have to work to get what we want,” he says.

“Our parents are not going to give us that $30,000 to go to school,” he continues. “We all have to work and that’s why we have an edge, because we know that we need to do these things [ourselves], it’s not going to be handed to us.”

In an effort to close the gap between employed students and full-fledged members of the work force, Pham also plans to focus much of his attention on Career Services. “My goal is to get more employers to come here, to get more students to know that there is a Career Services,” he says. “We need to get that done. We are students, here to learn, and when we get out, we’d like to earn some money and get some jobs.”

As student trustee, Pham sits on the trustee board’s Student Affairs and Administration and Finance Committees, along with other students representing UMass Lowell, Dartmouth, Amherst, and Worcester campuses. Before graduating this May, Pham hopes to revamp international student services, revitalize student government, and increase career opportunities on campus. He anticipates that in focusing his agenda, and that of student government in general, on student-centered issues will increase student awareness of the opportunities available to them.

“Our student government needs to focus more on student issues,” he says. “That’s what students care about…I realize that a lot of students are not in touch with student politics and, you know, being in touch is a good thing because if an issue effects you then you know how to deal with it.”