Goodnight Spotlight: Tin Phan

Each month, the Goodnight Scholars Program highlights a select number of current Goodnight Scholars who represent the program’s highly diverse and involved student cohort. This month, the spotlight focuses on Queen City product, Tin Phan ’19.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Tin Phan: I was born in Marion, North Carolina but I lived in the Queen City (Charlotte) for most of my life. As the oldest of four in my family, my experience has been very interesting so far. My two brothers are attending school in 11th and 4th grade and my sister is currently in 7th grade. Being the first born has meant that I had trekked new paths, explored new experiences, and was the responsible adventurer for my siblings. In many ways, the First Year Scholar experience in the Goodnight Scholars Program has too been such of an adventure! It is a well known fact that most college students will change majors sometime in their four years. As a trekker of new experiences, I guess that I became the college student before my college career: prior to enrollment, I decided to change majors into biochemistry! It was difficult to choose a major, knowing that it may shape how I approach the world and pragmatically, which academic concentration I will take. But I have found a love for biochemistry. My zeal for learning why phenomena happen, the interactions and connections between biological functions and macromolecules, is what spins my threads of interest into fabrics of passion. From these beginnings, I would love to learn about and serve other people by attending medical school.

Talk about some of your greatest accomplishments in high school and at NC State thus far.

By no means do I think that my achievements are the absolute biggest of all, but what I have accomplished certainly reflect who I am and what I am interested to pursue in my future at NC State. In high school, I was student class president, serving 353 peers through spirit, social and service events. I led organizing of tailgates, hosting of the inaugural movie night and planning for local service projects for our class. I enjoy getting to know others–being social–and representing their interests by undertaking these events. Today, I am continuing with that for 200 fellow Scholars as a member of the Goodnight Scholars Executive Committee. In addition to student government, I passionately enjoy serving others. Even the smallest service–the tiniest smiles on an underserved child’s face–symbolizes the greatest deeds. I have performed over 460 hours of community service and have successfully launched Savio Football Club: a youth soccer-and-mentorship program for needy children in eastern Charlotte neighborhoods. Since its inception, we have earned third-place league titles in both our inaugural and second seasons. Like student government, I am still serving today as a logistics committee member for Service Raleigh, a citywide service event for over 2000 student volunteers, and of course as a coach for Savio Football. I am happy to be a proud diplomat of the International Bacculaureate program and the salutatorian of my high school class. The inquiry and critically based learning that I have discovered in myself through IB will guide my life-long learning. This past semester, I thought-by-doing, NC State pun intended, by shadowing with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Genomics and Microbiology Lab.

Opportunities to develop oneself as a person through enrichment grants for cultural, personal or professional experiences is a constant reminder that the Goodnight Scholars Program will forever help shape my life.What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

What has your experience in the Goodnight Scholars Program been like thus far?

There is specific way to start the Goodnight Scholars experience. It just came upon me like a cool wind blowing all sorts of smells and experiences on a summer’s day. Like being the first born and a first year scholar, the Goodnight experience for me has been such a new and rewarding experience. The simply amazing achievements of my peers in the Program have made this a humbling and diverse experience for me. The TED Talk discussions which I have participated in helped me think about current issues like healthcare, undeserved education, and bionics in different perspectives and have helped develop my own. I have been awestruck by the voice and advice of those who have gone before us like Governor Jim Hunt during our Real Leadership Series. The camaraderie in our social events, like living in a small wooden house during Shack-A-Thon or bowling strikes and gutters with others during a First-Year Social, is real. Opportunities to develop oneself as a person through enrichment grants for cultural, personal or professional experiences is a constant reminder that the Goodnight Scholars Program will forever help shape my life. I am heartfelt-grateful for the chance to be a part of this group, to help lead our experience through the Goodnight Scholars Executive Committee, and to help impact our communities by preparing action projects in our First-Year Seminar. I look forward to the rest of the cool summer’s day ahead of me.

From our Program’s two mantras, that our scholarship is not a reward but an investment and to pay it forward, a Goodnight Scholar is defined. For me, these mantras mean that I am forever humble, looking forward, and in service to others. A close look at the first mantra reveals that achievements are not end-goals but really pavers to greater expectations. It is a humbling experience to see what others in our Program and in our communities have done with regards to my own small achievements. Being a Goodnight Scholar to me means that we do celebrate achievements of others and our peers, but in doing so, we never settle in self-reflecting: how do we further think and do? The second mantra, to pay it forward, means to me that this self-reflection importantly considers the lives of others and the impacts of our actions. With attentive gratitude for our blessings, striving for beyond-excellence in what we do so to improve the world around us defines being a Goodnight Scholar.

What are your future career goals and aspirations?

I would love to attend medical school to become a physician, practicing as a pediatrician. In addition to performing medicine, I aspire to creating development programs for youth. The best healthcare teams in the world are truly miracle-makers but despite their skill, experience or research, only the little child who makes healthy life choices will provide the most comprehensive well-being in his or her life.

What advice would give to a new or prospective Goodnight Scholars about being involved at NC State and the Goodnight Scholars Program?

Ah, but I am simply a freshman in the midst of 30,000 other students! I am still receiving advice today. From this idea, I think that this would be my counsel to new or prospective students and Scholars: ask questions and receive all that’s around you. For one’s learning and professional development, inquiry helps construct a life-long-learner and achiever. For me, learning had great gratification when I wanted to know why phenomena occurred and the implications of those events. In addition, opportunities came from questions: Why were children in these areas playing in unsafe conditions? Why did a child leave from his family home? How can I help? Why do I enjoy planning and what can I do with that interest? Asking questions can be one of the greatest parts of your life, as was mine. And answering those questions, though extremely difficult and never-ending, will lead to a greater appreciation of people, community, education, your blessings, and the world.