Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series that is celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and look to maintain that momentum in future careers. Learn more about APIDA Heritage Month coverage in Nebraska Today.
This week, meet Jonah Tran, a nutrition, exercise and health science major from Lincoln, Nebraska. Through his involvements on campus, Tran has found a home away from home and is serving as a mentor for fellow Huskers.
Talk a little bit about your experience with the Emerging Leaders program.
The Emerging Leaders program aims to assist incoming freshmen to find their place on campus and explore leadership skills. For me, that is exactly what the program did for me. Emerging Leaders helped me look into what it takes to become a leader and has helped guide me to where I am today on campus. From meeting amazing coaches to finding more organizations on campus, I feel warmly welcomed here at UNL.
What got you interested in being an Emerging Leaders peer mentor?
What interested me the most in becoming a peer mentor was the opportunity of forming experiences and memories with students. I also wanted to be the person who students would go to if they ever felt lost or overwhelmed. Whether that be emotionally overwhelmed or needing help with simple tasks, I wished to be there for students whenever they needed something. My favorite memory of being a peer mentor so far has been attending the four-day event the Emerging Leaders program sets up for incoming freshmen within the program. This event allowed me to grow closer to my mentees and learn more about what makes them unique and young leaders.
You’re really involved on campus. What motivated you to get involved in a variety of on-campus organizations?
Being involved on campus was a goal of mine to find my home away from home. I knew, coming into college, that I was going to spend a lot of time here, so I might as well find my own community. I have luckily found organizations that complement my personal interests. Those RSOs include the Vietnamese Student Association, Asian Student Union and the Nebraska Barbell Club.
How have your involvements on campus shaped your college experience?
These involvements have helped keep me accountable for my personal goals and involved with my culture, specifically VSA. VSA has helped me learn more about my culture and be able to share it with the community around me. Being Vietnamese American, the Vietnamese community here in Lincoln holds a special place in my heart. When coming to campus and seeing the sizeable interest in VSA, it made me happy to know that this generation is still holding on to the Vietnamese culture. My favorite memory from VSA would be when we traveled to Illinois for a conference where we met with other schools around the Midwest. This conference helped me develop professional leadership skills and meaningful connections.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
In my lifetime, I aspire to inspire others. I will proudly say I am at a happy point in my life with the decisions that I have made, so I hope that people look to me as a sign of motivation to make that hard decision and move up in life. Also, ultimately, I hope to live comfortably and be able to support my friends and family.
What or who inspires you?
My family and friends are my biggest inspiration. I try to surround myself with a diverse group of people that are self-driven, hard-working and passionate about what they do and care about. Without the amazing support these people give me, I would not be where I am today.
You have a variety of interests, from Nebraska Barbell to photography. What is your advice for students looking to explore their passions?
My biggest advice to students wanting to pursue their passions would be to work hard, find opportunities, and be yourself. Capitalizing on opportunities to explore your passions is something everyone should take advantage of. Not everyone is fortunate to do what they enjoy, and being able to work on what you are passionate about will make it feel like you’re not even working.