Alum Completes Station1 Frontiers Fellowship and Gets Accepted to NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Capstone Project
Santa Ana College (SAC) alum and returning student Minh Pham has been accepted to the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Mission 3: Innovate – Capstone Project. Pham earned this prestigious opportunity following his completion of the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship in socially directed science and technology during the Summer of 2023. With NCAS, Pham will be working with NASA virtually for two weeks followed by one week at the Langley Research Center where he will be helping NASA develop possible solutions to their current challenges.
This continued research opportunity came after Pham successfully completed his research fellowship with the Station1 Frontiers Fellowship, where he conducted research, in partnership with Sylvatex, an advanced materials technology company, on lithium batteries to figure out ways to make this a cost-effective and accessible energy source to the public. Station1 is a new nonprofit higher education institution, founded by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016. At Station1, Pham acclimated to the professional research process in a collaborative setting, working alongside teammates and learning under two mentors. He also learned how to approach science with a humanities perspective, leading to more socially conscious research.
Minh Pham delivering a capstone presentation at SACNAS
Minh Pham's path to becoming an accomplished scholar started with humble beginnings. Pham came from Vietnam to the United States with his family at 15 years of age with limited English. His parents worked at a Vietnamese supermarket to support the family and help fund his educational efforts. Pham did not take their hard work for granted and applied for the Dual Enrollment program while attending El Modena High School. After graduating high school with the honors program in 2011, Pham enrolled at both Santa Ana College and its sister college, Santiago Canyon College (SCC), to pursue a Biological Science degree and then transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2013. Pham worked towards a Biochemistry degree at UCLA while concurrently taking Spanish and Italian classes at Santiago Canyon College. He earned his bachelor's degree with cum laude honors at UCLA in 2016, but he was far from finished in his academic ventures.
Minh Pham at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Conference
Pham went on to accumulate 19 more degrees and nine certificates at SAC, SCC, and UCLA, including Pre-Law at SAC and an acceptance to the University of California, Irvine, School of Pre-Law Outreach Program. He did so while in the Honors Transfer Program at SAC and earned the President's Scholar Medal in addition to being the only student who is a member of all eight of SAC's honor societies. He's currently applying for a doctor of medicine (MD) program at UCLA and wants to earn a juris doctor (JD) at a law school as well.
The super scholar has no plans of stopping thanks to his strong desire to set himself up for major success in the future and to give back to his community. He wants to earn both an MD and JD to inch closer to his dream of working for the U.S. Government as a Surgeon General and advocate for the underserved in the healthcare system.
“The main motivation is my family," said Pham. “That's what motivated me to be appreciative and want to do something to give back. Since a young age, I've been involved with community service. When I do anything, I think about the community that I'm representing."
In addition to preparing for the NCAS Capstone project with NASA, Pham is also taking additional classes at SAC in the Fine & Performing Arts, currently enrolled in a theater class to develop new skills. He's also enrolled in political science classes and is involved with the Model United Nations, Speech and Debate/Forensics team to improve his critical thinking skills and public speaking abilities.
From overcoming the language barrier as a teenager to becoming a super scholar with 19 degrees and a project with NASA, Minh Pham has proved that the sky is the limit for all ESL students.
“Don't be afraid," said Pham. “As a second language learner, we are so afraid to speak up and be able to share our mind. If you have anything, feel free to share, even if you don't speak fluently because your ideas could be so important. It can carry on over the years."
Digital Media Specialist