Mavericks from around the world share the goal of world-class education – News Center

Nguyen Pham and Chi Helm at the Lotus Laureate Celebration

Friday, May 19, 2023 • Cristal Gonzalez:

The University of Texas at Arlington hosted its inaugural Lotus Laureate Celebration, which recognized and honored the university’s Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American graduates.

To celebrate their achievements, the graduates received red stoles with gold writing – two colors that have significance in their cultures.

“Some of you grew up here in the United States, and many of you have come from far away, leaving behind everything you’ve known. But you all came here with one goal in mind – to receive a world-class education,” said Nilakshi Veerabathina , professor of physics and member of the Lotus Laureate Committee. “As you continue your individual journeys, may you continue to blossom like the lotus flower, spreading your knowledge and strength wherever you go.”

Designated by the US Department of Education as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American, Native American, Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI), UTA has the fifth most ethnically diverse undergraduate population in the United States, according to US News & World Report.

Chi Helm and her daughter Nguyen ‘Mimi’ Pham were two of the many students at UTA who left home in search of the American dream. They immigrated to the United States five years ago from Vietnam. When they got here, they pretty much had to start over, but they both encouraged each other to get a college education. On May 12 at Globe Life Field, they graduated together.

“I am very proud of my daughter that she has achieved her goal and that she will continue to achieve her future goals,” said Helm, who earned a bachelor’s degree in college studies. “I am also very happy with my education in America. When I was young in Vietnam, I had a dream that one day I would get a higher education in America, and I feel very happy that I was able to achieve it.”

Pham said her mother’s journey has inspired her to continue to pursue her own goals. Over the past four years, her mother has given her unconditional support. She attributes her own success to her mother.

“I am very proud of my mom and I admire how she has not only been a great student, but a great wife and mother,” said Pham, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. “She has straight A’s and still does so much for our family; it’s impressive! She inspires me to become a better and stronger woman like her.”

The mother-daughter duo may have graduated, but their list of goals and aspirations is far from complete. Pham will begin her doctoral program in physical therapy at UT Southwestern this summer. Helm said her next goal is to work for a government agency and be an interpreter to help those in the Vietnamese community pursue their own dreams.

Helm said she hopes her own story encourages others to follow their dreams.

“Do whatever you want with your life,” she said. “You can start at any time because life is a long journey and there is always time to achieve your goals.”

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