3/21/2019 (updated 7/2/2019)
Nghi April Tran ’19 (biology) is among the first generation of her family to earn a college degree – preceded by her older brother and followed by her younger sister. After Tran’s sophomore year of high school, her parents moved her family from Vietnam to Houston, Texas. Tran’s parents saw the move as an opportunity for their children to have better access to higher education than they could find in Vietnam. Her parent’s sacrifice is something that drives Tran to learn, grow and succeed every day.
Tran keeps her Vietnamese origins close and has become an active member of the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) as the association’s former vice president, public relations chair and logistics executive. Tran values VSA as a bridge between American culture and Vietnamese students who are adjusting to their new environment. “When considering TCU, I learned about the Vietnamese Student Association and I was really impressed with it. I have been a member since my freshmen year and now I get to share it with my younger sister, who is this semesters VP,” said Tran.
Tran and her VSA board members work hard to host weekly on-campus events to provide a platform for Vietnamese students to express themselves and encourage diversity at TCU. One of VSA’s most notable events is their annual musical, Amazing Vietnam. The musical is Tran’s favorite VSA event as it showcases VSA member’s talents and traditions as well as tells a compelling story through scripts, choreography and props – all of which are produced by students. Tran has participated in the musical as a dancer and a public relations representative.
Tran has found more ways than one to connect her life at TCU with her Vietnamese background. The summer after her sophomore year, she and Eric Ngo, a fellow Vietnamese student, participated in CSE’s wildlife conservation summer study abroad to South Africa to help save the rhinos and other species in the reserve. There she learned that Vietnam held one of the highest demands for illegal rhino horns – a statistic that deeply troubled Tran.
“After learning so much about the falling rhino population and its connection to Asia (more specifically Vietnam), we knew we had to do something,” said Tran. She and Ngo decided to launch the Rhino Conservation Project to raise awareness in Vietnam and a desire for change to the global crisis. Representatives from the project traveled to Vietnam to speak to schools about the rhino horn issue, how it was affecting the rhino population in South Africa and how it can be helped. The project reached more than 500 high school and college students in Vietnam.
Amid bridging the gap between two cultures and helping save the rhino population, Tran earned her degree in biology with a minor in chemistry so that she may attend medical school. Tran said, “my goal is to provide medical care to the vulnerable population in Texas. I am inspired by my parents and my community. I would love to use my knowledge and skills to give back to the community that has given me and my family so many opportunities and resources.”
After completing more than 50 pages of applications Tran was accepted to several medical schools. In the fall, she will attend Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
Tran feels the transition from TCU to medical school will be bittersweet. “I am excited for my next journey in medical school, but I am really going to miss TCU,” said Tran. Tran graduated Magna Cum Laude and as a member of the Clark Society, Dean’s List and Honors Society. She also earned departmental honors.