B.A. in International Studies, 2003; Director of Finance
School of Education
September 1, 2009
DoE Financial Analyst Sets Sights on Career in University Administration
I was raised in northern California by traditional Chinese parents who believed in hard work and the importance of education. My family had immigrated to the United States in 1986 from Viet Nam. Prior to entering school I spoke Cantonese and understood some Vietnamese.
My first encounter with the American educational system was interesting. I have such a strong memory of the first grade teacher giving each of us a piece of paper and asking, “Can you spell your name?” I really didn’t understand English so I looked over at my classmate and wrote what she had written on her paper: “Pamela.” I think my classmate was informing me that Pamela was her name, not mine, when the teacher came over, saw what was happening, and helped me write my own name on my paper. This help from the teacher turned out to be just the first instance of the wonderful support and assistance I have received from counselors and teachers throughout my formal education.
Learning English was a challenge during my first year in school. By the end of the school year, my teacher suggested that I repeat first grade. Fortunately, my mother was persistent in arguing that I should be promoted to second grade; and the school allowed me to go on to second grade. During my second year, the school provided me with an ESL [English as a Second Language] coordinator to help me.
I attended Davis High School in Modesto and remember that my favorite subject was history, both U.S. history and world history. When it became time to think about college, I visited all of the UC campuses and realized that UC Irvine was the school I wanted to attend. There was something about the climate, the setting, and the newness of the campus that that appealed to me.
I enrolled here at Irvine and majored in International Studies and minored in Management, with the intention of pursuing a career as an immigration officer with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services. I thought in this position I would be able to use my background, experiences, and educational training to help others as I had been helped.
As an undergraduate, I had been a work-study student in several departments on campus. My first employment following graduation was with a local company situated on Irvine Research Drive. I missed the university environment so I decided to see what employment opportunities were available at UCI.
In 2005 I started working for the UCI Department of Education as an admissions counselor in Student Affairs. My main reason for becoming a counselor was to help students, just as my counselors and teachers had helped me when I first started school in America. I really enjoyed my work in admissions. I loved working with students and seeing them successfully earn their teaching credential.
In 2007 I transitioned to the DoE finance unit. By this point, I knew that I wanted to make UC Irvine my career, eventually reaching a management position; and I was very interested in learning other aspects of the department’s operation beyond the Student Affairs area. My two years working in finance definitely has expanded my understanding of university operations.
In my spare time I enjoy hanging out with my friends, watching movies (especially zombie flicks), shopping, and most recently…hiking! I also enjoy travelling. I’ve been to Hong Kong, Hawaii, Taiwan, the Caribbean Islands, and Vietnam. I first journeyed back to Vietnam when I was 11. It was something of a culture shock for me because I was so little when we left. I visited again in 2008 and appreciated much more the opportunity to reconnect with relatives and see the country through more mature eyes.
I feel so fortunate to be working with a great team of colleagues in the Department of Education. My co-workers are a group of wonderful and knowledgeable individuals, and I enjoy working with them every day.