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Developing Wisdom For Med School: Tin Phan

CALS' Tin Phan
Courtesy of Alex McNeilly, NC State Division of Enrollment Management and Services

Tin Phan is a Goodnight Scholar who volunteers for multiple nonprofit organizations, serves on student councils for global health and Operation Smile — and still finds time to coach the youth-development soccer team he co-founded with his brother.

What’s your career goal?

I’d like to become a physician. Doctors not only learn and apply vast science knowledge, but also convey medical wisdom as part of their job. Wisdom is a social, emotional and medical skill of interpretation that the doctor develops over time — that’s the more challenging part … even moreso than the science. … This path is a long one, but one I look forward to.

And in the future, I wish to serve medically in refugee and immigrant populations. That’s the community my parents grew up in and has been very close to me.

What sorts of research have you done?

The aim of my first research project was to shed light on the mechanisms that allow viruses to adapt to drug treatments. I’ve also worked as a research assistant on novel treatments for muscular dystrophy. Today I am volunteering at a hospital to develop my clinical experience.

Tell us about your experience with Operation Smile Student Programs.

Operation Smile is a global, non-profit charity that provides cleft-lip surgeries for children. Compelled by patient stories I heard at a leadership conference, I co-founded Operation Smile at NC State. To date, we’ve organized fundraising, advocacy and service events. I hope to attend a medical mission trip in the near future.

Tell us about how your family life has influenced your volunteer work.

On the weekends, I coach for a youth-development soccer team I co-founded in 2014, targeting low-income refugee and immigrant kids in East Charlotte.

I also volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity in East Charlotte. They serve the community in which many of our soccer players have found a home. These families … possess the same stories of hardship of which my parents have reminded me since birth: my mom and dad were teenage refugees who fled during the Vietnam War aftermath.

What have you learned here that you’ll take with you when you graduate?

An appreciation of North Carolina culture and values. I’m thankful to attend a school with over 35,000 students, because the second question to ask someone new is always “Where are you from?” And the answer to that is always of insight into the people, character and diversity of our state.