Outstanding business students balance schedules, achieve goals
Huan “Henry” Pham was doing a medical internship at a Houston hospital when he decided to switch his career course to pursue one of his other passions – business.
Pham, a Houston resident, enrolled in fall 2018 as a graduate student in the University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration, and a year and a half later, he has graduated with a Strategic Master of Business Administration with concentrations in marketing and management.
Pham recently was named the Spring 2020 Outstanding Graduate Student for the UHV School of Business Administration. Theresa Salas of San Antonio was named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the school.
Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UHV postponed its spring graduation ceremonies until it is safe to congregate.
“Both of these students showcase the drive and determination it takes to succeed and achieve goals,” said Ken Colwell, dean of the school. “They are examples of the kind of students we have at the School of Business Administration, and their futures are bright.”
Pham’s decision to graduate in less than two years was no easy feat. At first, Pham pursued a career in the medical field. He has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and chemistry from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and was accepted into several medical schools. He was interning at Houston Methodist Hospital when he decided to pivot to business and begin graduate courses at UHV. There were some days when after a long shift, he would drive from the hospital to the UHV Katy instructional site for class.
Pham’s career interests always have included business and teaching because he grew up with a father who owns a business, and his mother is a literature professor. His sister, Ngoc “Cindy” Pham, also a UHV business school alumna, is an assistant professor of marketing and international business at Brooklyn College in New York City. This past spring, Pham worked as a teaching assistant at two Houston colleges. Pham is considering getting his doctoral degree to teach in higher education.
“I love teaching, and much of the knowledge I gained through my classes at UHV and as an intern in the medical field would overlap and help me in the classroom,” he said. “My business classes at UHV helped me prepare for the classes I taught as a teaching assistant. In the medical field, there are strict regulations you have to follow, and it was easy to apply that same determination and teamwork to get through the MBA program and apply it to my students, as well.”
Pham said UHV was a top choice for him after his sister graduated in 2013 from the university with her MBA. He found that studying weekly with his classmates was both enjoyable and helped him prepare for classwork. The faculty also was very helpful, he said. He thanks his study group and Jun Yang, a UHV associate professor of marketing, for her help.
“It’s been an awesome experience, and I loved every single moment,” Pham said. “The journey was made great by my professors and study friends. With a team like that, it was easier to succeed.”
Salas transferred to UHV her freshman year from a private university in Abilene. Salas, who received her Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, immersed herself in student activities and applied to become a resident assistant. Although her first few weeks at UHV were tough, she soon found her place within the Jaguar community.
“The people I met through student organizations and in the resident advisor community became my family here,” Salas said.
Family is important to Salas, and she said being away from her family in San Antonio was one of the most difficult obstacles she overcame during her time as an undergraduate student. UHV made the transition to college life easier because of how close Victoria is to San Antonio, and the small but strong student community helped Salas bond with her peers. Salas also credits Sharron Varghese, who works with UHV International Programs but at the time worked in Career Services, with helping her transition to life at UHV.
“I was able to learn to be on my own, but I also was able to visit my family on the weekend if I wanted to,” she said. “Sharron helped me come out of my comfort zone. I was so shy when I first got to UHV, and her advice helped me become a part of the UHV community.”
Salas, along with other freshman students, attended a weekly seminar to help her with her goals and to get advice. It was through the “Freshman Seminar” course that Salas learned about student organizations and later pursued executive board positions in the Business Students Association and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
At first, balancing her student activities, job as a resident assistant and classes was a struggle. But after she received a B in one of her courses, she managed her time to make sure her grades stayed high.
Salas is excited to be home in San Antonio and plans to pursue an internship at an accounting firm in the city. She would like to get a graduate degree in accounting and become a CPA.
She thanked her family and fiance for their support, as well as the UHV resident assistants for their help and friendship.
“I will definitely miss Victoria, and I made a lot of strong friendships during my time at UHV,” Salas said. “I am still so surprised to receive this award. I do not know who nominated me, but I appreciate it. It makes me feel like all my hard work was worth it.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.