‘I was the first in my family to study abroad’

NAME: Thao Vu
MAJORS: Environmental Science & Studies and Economics
YEAR: 2023
HOMETOWN: Thai Nguyen, Vietnam  

CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT: IKnightVision, KnightCaller, research

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR MAJORS: Honestly, I chose ESS because I was raised in a polluted environment. My country, Vietnam, has very loose laws on pollution and how to handle the environmental crisis. My intention when I applied for college was that I’d study in the States for a few years and come back to my country to help enforce better regulations when it comes to the environment. After four years, I’ve changed my path. I’m doing a double major in economics and ESS, and I think being able to combine these two is very important. People will only care about environmental problems when their economic issues are solved. 

HOW HAS WARTBURG PREPARED YOU FOR YOUR FUTURE:  I love being able to have hands-on research experiences, and Wartburg has helped me with that.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: Surprisingly, I’m working in tech right now. I’m a project manager for a tech/ software development company. At first, it seems like it doesn’t match with what I’ve studied, but we’re utilizing the most energy-efficient methods to develop a software. I’m hoping to keep doing ethical, environmentally friendly business.  

Thao Vu

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT DURING YOUR TIME AT WARTBURG: I’m very proud of myself for everything I’ve done and achieved so far, especially that I’ve gotten the Outstanding Senior in ESS. Coming from a very disadvantaged background, I am the first one in my family to study abroad. There are many difficulties and challenges along the way, like my depression and anxiety disorders which interfere with my normal life. All odds were against me, but I’ve come this far and I’m very proud of myself.  

WHAT IS ONE MEMORY YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE OF YOUR TIME AT WARTBURG: This one is kind of funny and embarrassing at the same time. I yelled at Dr. Michaeleen Golay during one of my labs while I was a first-year student. I was stressed out and depressed due to the passing of my best friend that day. Instead of kicking me out of the class (thankfully she didn’t do that or fail me!), Dr. Golay talked with me and helped me so much during that difficult time. She and I often joked about that day. We became very close, and I’m so grateful to meet people like Dr. Golay at Wartburg, who has always been compassionate and understanding toward students. Without her, I would never have become who I am today.