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Tom Pham
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Tom Pham

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Major: Biology

Minor: Biochemistry

Activities: Varsity swimming and diving (Academic All-CCIW), Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity

Internship: Student researcher for Dr. Tim Muir, biology

Post-grad plans: I plan to work as a biochemistry researcher for a biotechnology company, and then transition to a PhD. program the following year.

Why Augustana?

It's a good liberal arts college that gives plenty of financial aid for international students.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?


Who helped you get to where you are now?

The swim team helped me overcome tough times and build a more mature character through helpful encouragement.

Peak experience?

It was when Dr. Boquin acknowledged me for proctoring organic chemistry lab for eight hours in a day. All of my exhaustion went away once I knew how valuable my contribution was.

What surprised you?

That I can learn and improve from my mistakes.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used Augie Choice to facilitate my research over the summer. I absolutely loved Dr. Muir's Comparative Physiology class and was able to participate in his research on the Slough’s painted turtles upon showing my interest. It was a year-round project, and during the summer, our team captured turtles from Beling and the campus Slough to harvest their eggs.

It was a well-rounded research experience, and I am grateful to have learned multiple disciplines such as hypothesizing, setting up experiments, dissecting, analyzing and laboratory techniques. This was a necessary milestone to my goal of researching in stem cell, and made me a more suitable candidate for future Ph.D. applications. I enjoyed every single moment of this journey, and one of the most thrilling experiences was holding snapping turtles with my bare hands.

What will you miss the most?

My friends and the faculty—I think of them as my American family.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

Treat others like you would treat yourself, and it will definitely pay off.

“Tom is such a neat person. He dove into American culture headfirst at Augie, and still managed to stay true to himself. He is good-humored, quick-witted and extremely curious about how nature works—all the things you could ask for in a research partner. I am excited to follow his academic career as he pursues his own research questions. He has a lot of success ahead of him.”

– Dr. Tim Muir, associate professor, biology