MBA Bound

Transferring to Dominican halfway through his freshman year was a transformative decision that set Nhan Pham on a path toward leadership roles both on and off campus with internships that nurtured his interest in the world of business, and global learning opportunities that expanded both his personal and professional network.

Nhan, who graduated from Santa Rosa’s Elsie Allen High School, transferred to Dominican after spending his first semester attending a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania.

“I realized that it was important for me to study somewhere that was closer to home and closer to where I want to eventually work and live,” he says about his decision to transfer to Dominican.

Nhan has been so happy with his Dominican experience that he will remain on campus after graduation – studying for his MBA in Dominican’s Barowsky School of Business.

Almost immediately after arriving as a freshman, Nhan immersed himself in both the Dominican and Marin County community. Enrolling in a Service-Learning course his freshman was a game changer.

“The Service-Learning program gave me purpose in my college career,” Nhan says. “I learned how to be a leader in our community, I learned how to speak up for people in the community, and most importantly I made a connections through the programs of several community partners.”

Nhan’s first service-learning opportunity was working with Canal Alliance, a local nonprofit that works on behalf of immigrants challenged by a lack of resources and an unfamiliar environment. He started with Canal Alliance’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program, where he had his first exposure to the multicultural immigrant community in San Rafael. After working with the adults, his second semester with Canal Alliance provided him with an understanding of the younger members of the Canal immigrant community through its University Prep (UP!) program.

Besides Canal Alliance, Nhan also worked with Health Hubs, a food distribution and health advocacy program coordinated by Marin Community Clinics. He gained deeper awareness of the daily challenges of immigrant families in this county—not only cultural and linguistic challenges, but also the gaps toward families having adequate nutritional support and healthcare access.

In his senior year, Nhan did an internship with Marin Asian Advocacy Project, a non-profit that has been providing social services for the local Asian community for the last two decades. Nhan, who immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with his parents, was instrumental in helping organize a weekly social gathering for the Vietnamese elders in San Rafael. The relationships he built with the elders, and the conversations he had with them, changed his perception of his own ethnic community.

“I realized that many of the people in Marin’s Vietnamese community experienced social isolation – even after being here for many years,” Nhan says. “My experiences were different. It is sad to look at your own community and realize isolation is an issue, living in poverty is an issue, and finding support is an issue.”

His experiences in the Service-Learning program led Nhan to declare a minor in Community Action and Social Change.

“I gained so much from these experiences. I learned how to be a compassionate and understanding person.”

Inside the classroom, he has appreciated the mentorship of several faculty in the Barowsky School of Business, particularly Dr. Christopher Leeds.

“Dr. Leeds taught me so much about how to write and communicate in a business setting. He taught me how to give a presentation—about the flow of your message and how to speak in public.”

With a busy schedule, the business major also has gained leadership experience through internships and on-campus leadership positions.

A marketing internship with Health Net gave him insight into many facets of marketing, from brand image to effective communication. An internship with Rafael Racquet Club taught him how to be an independent leader in a much smaller organization. Working as an RA and RA liaison to ASDU taught him how to communicate with students, peers, friends, and coworkers with humility and respect.

His junior year Nhan studied business at Nord University in Norway through Dominican’s Global Education Office. This exposure to global business will serve him well as he continues his studies in Dominican’s MBA program.

“Dominican is a dream made possible because of this diverse community,” he says. “I am a first generation, immigrant student who studied abroad, was an RA, was a part of student government, and has a major and a minor. Without this community, I would not have any of these experiences.”


Defining moment at Dominican/or memory that will stay with you forever: Studying abroad in Norway and being an RA.
Most inspiring professor(s): Julia van der Ryn and Emily Wu
Best place to study on campus: An empty classroom because it is quiet and no one will bother you.
Best place to eat off campus: There are so many good places in downtown San Rafael. My favorite is Napoli on Fourth Street. They have good Italian food for decent prices.
Best place to hang out in Marin: The fire trail is great place to hang out or a great place to get away from campus. It’s not too far—within walking distance.
Favorite way to spend a weekend in or near Marin: Shopping in San Francisco or going to a museum. Hiking beautiful places in Sonoma County.
Advice to a new student: Talk to your professor! Go study abroad! Travel!

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