Name: Nhi Pham
Major and current year at UCI: senior majoring in political science and sociology
Award: Alice B. Macy Outstanding Undergraduate Paper Award for Uprooted: The Social, Academic, and Adjustment Experience of Vietnamese International Students
Hometown: Orange County, CA
Biggest milestone: graduating college this year as the first in my family to do so and fulfilling my parents’ biggest wish


Why did you decide to come to UCI?

UCI attracted me as a student due to its reputation as a major research university. Its location and quality of education were also strong factors that motivated me to come. The diversity of courses offered for my majors made me feel confident that by graduation, I’d have an equally diverse mindset and be equipped to take on the next chapter.

What made you decide to pursue your current field of study?

I’ve always wanted to become a lawyer and had a particular interest in doing pro-bono work in the future. With this in mind, I pursued political science and sociology. They complement each other well and gave me a background view of social relationships and political systems. These majors allowed me to practice my analytical skills and develop a more comprehensive understanding of not only other individuals but systems at large.     

Now that you’re graduating, what comes next?

For now, I’m taking the year off to study for the LSAT, refine my coding skills, and continue working. I’m juggling between different plans of what to do after graduation, but I hope to pursue a career path that will give me the means to be more involved and contribute to the community I live in. 

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

I think that my biggest accomplishment at UCI was more interpersonal than quantifiable grades. During my time at UCI, I learned to take risks and put myself out there. My shyness and anxiety were often big obstacles that hindered me from fully taking advantage of opportunities that came my way. At UCI, I spoke to my professors for the first time and tried my best to engage with them. It certainly helps that the professors I have spoken to are incredibly kind and receptive. These baby steps helped me to cultivate relationships professionally and personally.

What are the biggest challenges (if any) you have faced in getting to where you are today?

My status as a first-generation college student was the biggest challenge that I’ve faced. As a first-generation college student, higher education felt like a maze. Not only was it difficult for me to know what I needed to do and how to navigate and be successful in college, but my parents also did not know how to support me in my pursuit. However, with help from resources on campus and gracious mentors, college was a transformative experience that grew my independence and got me to where I am today.



© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766