Featured Alumna: Ai My Thai - Vietnam

By Ai My Thai, January 13, 2020

My name is Ai. I am an international student from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. My journey in the US started with Green River College back in September 2012. Then in 2015, I transferred to Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), majoring in Aerospace Engineering

Getting to the US to study abroad was a struggle for me. I was leaving a really good high school in Vietnam, and I was too dependent. I only knew instinctively that I wanted to access a broader education and more choices for my future. Green River did me a favor by putting me in IEP level 5 when I first came. It served as a gap for me to adjust to the new environment and prepare myself for the academic level. This preparation helped me test into ENGL 101 and MATH 151 right away. 

Green River provided me with a lot of great support in academics as well as in advising. I chose the school because of its reputable Engineering program that would help me transfer my credits to other universities in full. I also loved how approachable the science and engineering faculty at Green River was. I am the kind of student who will go to office hours and ask so many questions about the homework, tests, and even materials that are not necessary for me to master. However, my questions were very welcomed and even got them excited. This encouraged me to delve deeper into my passion. In addition, I loved how practical the experience of my instructors was. I remember Jeff McCauley, one of the engineering faculty, told us stories about the time he was in the military and how the equations that we are studying had saved so many of his projects. Those fascinating stories created a compelling future in my mind about how engineering is important to this world and how critical it is to get it right. 

Ai My Thai with GRC host family on graduation day.

Green River also provided me with a very great support system, especially the International Programs. I am sure that my experience was not atypical. Besides being placed in an amazing host family, I was supported by a group of friendly staff and advisors. It feels like I was taken care of in this new country so that I could focus on getting used to it. Also, the student government at Green River was very active. They organized so many events: trips to Leavenworth, Portland, carnivals at school, volunteering events, Lunar New Year celebration, etc. These events helped expose me to life outside of the campus bubble and helped me make very good friends. I was also provided with an opportunity to work for the first time as a Student Marketing Assistant. Being a student marketing assistant was amazing because I was able to give back to the organization that helped me so much. Also, I was a Physics tutor at the Tutoring Resource Center. It was awesome as I got to share my passion and study strategies to help others become better learners, while also sharpening my knowledge.

Because of the academic and personal growth support, my time at Green River was foundational to my transition to higher education. My years at Georgia Tech were not without difficulties and struggles. However, I am very grateful for them for I know they can only prepare me for bigger challenges and greater glories that life can offer. Classes were way harder. I also had difficulties finding an internship/co-op in the Aerospace industry, if any at all because of my citizenship. However, I took any chances that came to me to gain more experience. Because of these preparations, I got a co-op with Delta Air Lines. After that, I kept on nurturing my skills, working more, learning more about myself, networking and meeting people. I ended up working for five semesters and also attempted at a startup with a group of friends to build a personal aerial vehicle. 

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering with Highest Honor this past December. I will be starting my full-time dream job with Delta Air Lines as a Project Manager Engineer; at the same time, working on my Online Master of Science in Analytics at Georgia Tech. I do not have a specific goal of where I want my career to end up as some people do. One absolute certainty about my goal is I aspire to take on projects that can make a meaningful impact. 

If there is any advice that I want to give freshmen or people who have just started out studying abroad in the US, it is to open up, reach out and reflect. The whole world is yours because your life is what you make out of it. Open up to the new things that this new experience presents. Reach out, ask people all your questions and help them back by asking really good questions. And more importantly, reflect on your experience to learn from them.

Ai My Thai works for Delta Air Lines

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