(Santa Ana, CA) Santa Ana College (SAC) student Minh Pham is the son of a Vietnamese refugee who immigrated to the United States nine and a half years ago. Knowing little English when he arrived at age 16, Pham experienced difficulties communicating with others, which hindered him from thriving. Through several Vietnamese community service programs, including experiencing other underserved communities, Pham found where he fit.
After obtaining multiple associate degrees from nearby Santiago Canyon College (SCC), Pham transferred to University of California, Los Angeles where he graduated in 2016 with a degree in biochemistry, cum laude, and received UCLA’s 2016 Senior of the Year accolade. While attending UCLA, he took a medical mission trip to his homeland with the extracurricular Medical Educational Mission and Outreach (MEMO) non-profit organization. For two weeks, he volunteered at clinics and orphanages in Saigon and surrounding provinces, providing children with medical diagnosis while entertaining and educating them on topics like proper toothbrush usage.
Pham also began taking Spanish, French and Italian courses at SCC while at UCLA, knowing that having the ability to communicate with people from various backgrounds would help in his future career. His interest in law, particularly patents, medical malpractice and medical law, have led him on the path to obtaining his medical doctorate and juris doctorate. He believes this combination of education and abilities will help him best serve economically and socially disadvantaged communities.
"What impresses me about Minh is that he takes advantage of nearly every educational opportunity there is out there,” said SAC Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Cooperative Work Experience Coordinator Kim Smith, Esq. “He’s like a kid in a candy store, except the candy store is his brain and Santa Ana College. His end goals are honorable as well. Minh wants to be working in service to the community as a medical doctor, lawyer, accountant, and perhaps astronaut. I made that last part up, but with Minh, all things seem possible."
Now, with 19 associate degrees and nine certificates to his name, of which seven associate degrees and two certificates were awarded by SAC, Pham is currently working on his paralegal certification at SAC and expects to graduate next year.
“I’m currently still in my break/gap years between my undergraduate studies and application for medical school,” he said. “I went back to SAC and SCC to take additional coursework for personal development, work on my time management skills and help me prepare for future rigorous academic coursework at either medical or law school.”
Pham said he hopes to begin applying to medical schools next year and begin his journey to becoming a doctor in fall 2021.
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 27,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and provides invaluable workforce training and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
SAC Student Mihn Pham