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Transfer student shares about his journey from community college to ASU

Nguyen Khoi (Korey) Phung always knew that pursuing higher education would help support his family in attaining a better life


Portrait of ASU transfer student Nguyen Khoi (Korey) Phung.
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March 02, 2022

Before he became a student at Arizona State University, Nguyen Khoi (Korey) Phung grew up in a working-class family in the developing country of Vietnam, where his mother held several jobs simultaneously to provide for him and his sister.

When Phung and his family eventually migrated to the United States, his mother had to start all over again, without knowing the language or culture. That experience and his mother’s sacrifice made Phung realize that education could be the key to improving their quality of life.

“I made a promise to myself that even if I make mistakes, I won’t ever upset my mom,” he said. “By pursuing higher education, I will give us a better life.”

After graduating from high school, Phung took some time off to prepare for his next steps. He did some research and decided that community college was the most affordable option for him.

“Attending a community college gave me a pre-university experience with less stress and a smaller classroom size as well,” he said.

Having settled in Yuma, Arizona, Phung then decided to begin his educational journey at Arizona Western College (AWC). He successfully completed his associate degree before he found out about ASU’s transfer student pathway program, MyPath2ASU.

Today, Phung is studying psychology in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. He is also working for Academic Alliances as a transfer student ambassador, educating prospective transfer students all about the benefits of MyPath2ASU.

ASU News spoke with Phung about his journey from community college to ASU, and he shared some advice for other students who are interested in transferring like he did.

Question: Were you involved in any clubs or organizations at your community college?

Answer: Unfortunately, I did not have time to join any clubs or organizations at AWC. I was busy with my job, and most importantly, taking care of my family. If I could go back in time, I would have tried to be involved at AWC as much as I could.

Q: Why did you choose your major?

A: I chose psychology because I want to be a therapist who specializes in family and marriage. I want to help other families solve their problems through effective communication and understanding for each other. By doing that, I want to make sure that children won’t have to suffer from the same issues as I did.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Location. Location. Location. ASU’s Tempe campus is just less than three hours away from home. It is also located in the heart of the Phoenix metropolitan area, which is one of the fastest growing metros in the nation. Moreover, ASU offers a top tier psychology program that can help me thrive in my career later.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about your ASU experience so far?

A: I love it that we are free to express ourselves here at ASU, which results in the school’s rich diversity. The hustle and bustle of life at ASU also reminds me of my hometown, Ho Chi Minh City. Weird as it may sound, unlike most people, I’m actually fond of the fast-paced life.

Q: Are you involved in any clubs, organizations, research or internships?

A: I’m a member of the K-pop Dance Evolution club to continue my hobby since high school, dancing. It is a way for me to destress. I am also searching for an internship opportunity this summer, most preferably at a local organization that provides therapy to patients. 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a new transfer student?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your questions will help us understand you better, and in reverse, you will gain more knowledge about the school. In Vietnamese, we have a popular proverb: "Muon biet phai hoi, muon gioi phai hoc," which means if you want to know something, ask; if you want to be good at something, study. By asking questions and getting assistance, you’ll have a much smoother transfer process.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate with your bachelor's degree?

A: I would like to apply to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree or doctorate, probably at ASU! However, I’m also interested in studying abroad because I want to know how people in other cultures view mental health, and on a broader scope, psychology.

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