Mapu Pham, software engineering and math freshman, throws leaves into the air April 14 on the lawn of the library mall. Pham is part of Student governance, student ministry, Freshman Leaders on Campus, Maverick Mentors, Vietnamese Student Association and the International Student Organization.

College for freshman Mapu Pham is about more than just studying. For Pham, getting involved on campus gives her purpose, connections to people and a chance to learn from those people.

Pham is a software engineering and math double major who is enrolled in 16 hours this semester. Although she has a rigorous course load, Pham still makes time for her hobbies, including student involvement and music.

Pham said she made it a goal of hers to get involved in multiple things on campus her freshman year. Pham is currently a Freshman Leaders on Campus member, a Maverick Mentors mentee, an Alpha Phi Omega coed service fraternity member, a Vietnamese Student Association intern and a College of Engineering senator.

“It’s not uncommon to not be as involved your first semester, but Mapu has dived in headfirst since her first semester joining several organizations and running in elections,” business freshman Amani Said said in an email.

Upon starting at UTA, Pham said she did research on leadership organizations that she could join and ended up finding Freshman Leaders on Campus. After getting accepted into the organization for freshmen, Pham said Freshman Leaders on Campus really helped to get her more involved in other things around campus.

Freshman Leaders on Campus also helped Pham learn to be more influential in her speaking as well as build her English vocabulary, Pham said.

What drove Pham to be a part of these organizations was the chance to get to meet new people and learn about their experiences, Pham said. More so, being a part of different organizations provides her with a sense of empowerment, she said.

“Being involved makes you feel like you’re important, like you’re a part of something, and it kind of makes myself feel better,” Pham said. “I feel like I can influence people in different ways.”

Not only does it provide connections for her, Pham said, but being involved also helps keep her stress down. She isn’t scared to get involved in new things because it’s an outlet for her to have fun, she said.

Electrical engineering senior Frankie Villarreal said Pham isn’t afraid to put herself out there and perform when it comes to music, acting as a leader in front of a crowd, or holding many different positions.

“I’m not only a mentor to her, but she’s also, like, an inspiration to me to see someone that, early on, tackled so many things,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal said Pham really exemplifies the idea of servant leadership — she not only leads others but puts in a lot of work, too. Villarreal said Pham is well on her way to leave a lasting impact on campus in the next few years.

Another outlet for Pham is her music, she said.

In Vietnam, Pham’s mother made her learn how to play the piano in the fifth grade, Pham said. Then, in the sixth grade while at church, Pham said after hearing other church members sing, she became inspired to start singing herself.

From then on, her passion for music as a hobby took off. Pham said she enjoys singing and writing her own songs, mostly in Vietnamese. In the ninth grade, she wrote her first song.

Then in 2014, during her senior year in Vietnam, Pham said she and her family came to Texas.

“I’m really glad I’m here,” Pham said. “When I got here, though, a lot of things changed.”

The inspiration for her songs comes from stories that her friends back in Vietnam tell her, Pham said. Being so far away from them, Pham said she often video chats with her friends in Vietnam and incorporates their stories into her song writing.

Writing these songs and being able to talk to her friends from Vietnam helped her feel connected to them, even though she was so far away, Pham said.

These hobbies remain just social outlets for Pham, she said. Although she loves music, she said she knows that her strengths lie in math and programming.

After arriving in the U.S., Pham said she found out her passion for the two subjects after taking an Advanced Placement computer science course.

Through playing the piano at the Connection Cafe, she said she makes a lot of new friends as well. Some of the students who play the piano are also engineering students, and it’s easy to relate to them, she said. Seeing them shows that engineering students can have a creative side, too, she said.

Through all of the things Pham is involved in, she said she maintains it all by trying to make time for everyone and keeping all of her events in a planner. Pham said she encourages students who don’t want to get involved to at least try new things.

“I feel like if you just get a little involved and get recognized, it will make you feel better,” Pham said.


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