Goodnight Alumni Spotlight: Tin Phan

Portrait photo of NC State Goodnight Scholars Program alumnus Tin Phan of the Class of 2019 inside Talley Student Union in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Goodnight Scholars Program alumnus Tin Phan ’19’s pursuit of a medical career has not been stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Where has life taken you since graduating from NC State?

Tin Phan ’19: I am currently enrolled at the UNC School of Medicine and have been here for a year. Being at the UNC School of Medicine is a completely different phase and mindset than undergrad. Here I am studying something I will be practicing for the rest of my career. Since being at the UNC School of Medicine, I have participated in a UN Migration internship. I initially applied to complete the internship in Geneva, Switzerland, but then the travel restrictions happened. Due to this, my internship was completed here in a different and interesting way. In my internship, I served on the COVID-19 Task Force researching current literature on COVID-19 and completing statistical analysis on COVID-19 cases for UN Migration Member States. (Editor’s Note: Read more about Tin’s COVID-19 Task Force experience in the 2019-2020 Goodnight Scholars Annual Report!)

What inspired you to pursue medicine?

The decision was multifactorial. At the end of the day, the reason I went into medicine is because there are kids out there that are born with conditions they cannot change. With older adults, environment conditions, social conditions, and things they chose to do lead them to these pathologies. But it’s unfair to kids. It goes back to my family’s background. They are refugees who fled a war. I can give back to kids that are disadvantaged, so medicine strikes an interest with me that other careers do not.

It’s important for you to choose what matters most in your life and for your future. Harmonize those things!

How has COVID-19 impacted your work?

It’s impacted a lot of my school work. In-person classes have been cancelled. The learning paradigm shifted a little bit. Taking tests, study places, going to clinical skills tests and workshops, going to anatomy labs, interacting with patients — it’s all out of the question as a preclinical student.

What is your fondest memory from your undergraduate years?

Traveling! I got the chance to travel with my brother to World Youth Day in Poland, which was funded by the Goodnight Scholars Program. This was a historic and cultural trip. We attended a festival for Catholic youth that is thrown every three or so years. We saw a lot of World War II history, went to see a lot of the castles, and experienced a lot of Eastern European culture. Seeing six million people at the World Youth Day, and lots of cultures and languages coming together, was incredible.

Is there any advice you think is important for current NC State students and Goodnight Scholars to hear?

In my undergrad years, I did things that were very important to me clinically and personally. When I looked at professional development, I didn’t look at what I could gain in terms of resume building, but how this would impact what I wanted to do in the future. There are so many opportunities to do research, charity work, and so many other resources that you can never exhaust. Another point is that you cannot get a comprehensive grasp of everything. It’s important for you to choose what matters most in your life and for your future. Harmonize those things! For me that meant doing the Goodnight Scholars LEGO Brick Build and giving back to low-income kids. If you have a passion for it, people will see it. 

Photography credit: Josh Guter/Goodnight Scholars Program