Center of Excellence for Teaching & Learning

CETL Podcast - Episode 9 - Audrey Tran

Tony Pellegrini: Good afternoon listeners! Tony Pellegrini here with our next iteration of our podcast of teaching and learning at Southern Utah University. I've invited a close associate, a friend of mine: Audrey Tran, a student here at SUU that I've had a class and done some international experiences with to take a few minutes of our time and visit with us about things that she's learned at SUU and how those have become so important to her. Audrey, would you mind taking a few minutes telling us a little about yourself, where you are in school, what you're doing; some of the fun exciting things you're doing as a student here at SUU.

Audrey Tran: Yeah no problem. Thanks so much for having me Tony. My name is Audrey Tran. I am a second year student here at SUU, but I'm a junior for credit, so I'll be graduating in three years because of some of the classes that I've been able to do on study abroads and online and over the summer. I am a hospitality management major with a minor in outdoor recreation. So it's super fun just to be able to be doing what I am doing with my degree. I chose SUU just because it really—you know when I was looking at colleges—gave me this feeling that it would be a different experience than what I could get elsewhere. And it's definitely proven to be true with that. And I've loved it so far, it's been a really great opportunity and I've had lots of great experiences from being a student at SUU.

TP: Audrey, I have to put you on the spot just a little bit. I have gone to Italy with study abroad with Audrey. She is a fantastic problem solver; she can see problems and work through problems and issues internationally and nationally. And one thing that I have been just truly impressed with Audrey about as well is her ease at stepping outside of her comfort zone. She has a very narrow comfort zone; it's easy to step out of it for Audrey. For you and me it may be a little bit uncomfortable to do that. Audrey take a moment or two and talk to us about how studying maybe subjects outside of your comfort zone has helped you to develop some real useful information or insights that help you think better and learn better. Talk to us a little about that—about your comfort zone on some of the things you're doing just to step out of it a little bit.

AT: Yeah that's a great question. When I was actually in middle school and high school, I always had this dream that I wanted to study abroad. But it was never really in the picture because, just because of finances. But then when I came to SUU my first year I had a hospitality professor and she was like, “Hey class, I have this really great opportunity to study abroad in Italy for two weeks learning hospitality.” And then it was kind of from her encouragement that I got this idea of like, “Hey, I could actually make this a reality for myself.” So I looked into it more. And it's really easy to stay in your comfort zone for things like that, for a study abroad or for a really big trip or something that you wanted to invest in for yourself, but you've just been too scared to do whether it's because of finances or because of, you know, some other reason that you tell yourself. And so after I looked into it I was like, “OK if I don't do this now and if I don't just push myself and just step outside of my comfort zone for this, when am I going to have opportunity to do it again?”

And so this last May I decided to do my study abroad. I went to Italy and it took at least six months of working hard and just making—starting out by making that decision to get out study abroad and then I finally was able, you know, to make that dream a reality for myself. And it took a lot of hard work, but sometimes it just kind of takes that decision that you're going to do it and you just, whatever happens you're just going to find a way to make it work. And I definitely have learned from that instance itself just because I wanted to do that and I finally made it happen.

That has taught me a lot about myself and how you really just have to make the decision, and then after that you know you'll be able to make things work out. But then even when I got to Europe and I was traveling all over, you learn—when you choose to invest in yourself, you learn so, so much more than you ever thought you could. And I definitely learned that while I was studying abroad in Italy and I have had amazing experiences that have totally changed my perspectives on the world and, you know, changed who I am and helped to grow exponentially because I chose to invest in myself. And definitely in those, in those situations in another country or when it comes to making big decisions or invest in yourself it can be hard to be comfortable. But you definitely don't grow within your comfort zone; it's when you step out of that and you're uncomfortable at least a little bit that you grow and that you learn the most

TP: Audrey, you said it twice. I love it. Invest in yourself. Hopefully we're going to have other students listening to this—how can you, how would you encourage; if you had a girlfriend or a roommate or a friend that was here at SUU, what are some directions that you would give him or her in order to really capitalize in that investment in yourself?

AT: Yeah. There's actually a lot of opportunities that SUU provides and investing in yourself can really be a lot of different things. In terms of being a student at SUU there's a lot of ways that I think all students should invest in their education. SUU has so many resources. They have opportunities to be part of a club and, you know, either grow professionally or grow some speaking skills or social skills or something maybe relevant to the field that they're studying. Clubs are a really great way to maybe not go too far or something that isn't super scary, but just starting out with a club and maybe getting involved in that.

Other ways of investing in yourself: SUU has opportunities to go on field trips where you're learning things in the industry. I'd say those are definitely ways I've invested in myself and gotten really involved with my education on campus, just because they have those resources available to you. And I'd say for students to take advantage of that. But even outside of maybe just on campus you can always invest in yourself by just pushing yourself to maybe achieve or work towards a goal or a dream that you have just kind of put on the backburner by challenging yourself to step forward to that. Take advantage of the resources that you have. Talk to people; ask them what they think. Talk to maybe professionals about their job path and their career and maybe learn from them, whether that's on a personal basis or for your career. There's just a lot of opportunities around that people and students, specifically, should take advantage of, I think.

TP: I think we've created a little study-abroad monster in you; and that’s a good monster, a very good monster!

You're really stretching yourself. It did not stop in Italy. I kind of heard through the grapevine that you’ve got other travel plans in your future. Can you talk to us a little about how you're broadening your comfort zone and expanding that through travel?

AT: Yeah, so travel for me has always been something that I'm super passionate about and it's another one of those things that I always put on the backburner because of finances or things like that. But again, something that I learned from my trip to Italy and studying abroad is that if you really want something you can work for it and you can make it a reality. And that's the same with traveling for me.

This week actually I'm leaving to go on a three week trip with my family to Vietnam. My dad is from Vietnam and he immigrated here when he was 10. He is now 50 and he hasn't been back since. So my whole family is going back and that's going to be a really great opportunity to kind of take ownership of my ancestry and learn from that as well. And even though it's not a study abroad where I'm getting college credit for it, I'm definitely still going to be learning so much about my family history and about the history and culture of another country. And I'd say for all SUU students and all students or just people anywhere that traveling is a really huge thing when it comes to learning and growing and broadening your perspectives, because it allows us to kind of step out of just what we've always known and kind of become part of something greater.

And, you know, on a different tangent I think that one way to make our communities and our schools and even just, you know, our world a better place is to broaden our perspectives and kind of see things from the viewpoint of something that isn't just what we're used to. And for travel that's definitely been something that I've learned from it and that I've taken from it, and I think that's another way to invest in yourself personally, or for your education, is just traveling and getting, you know, more perspectives and becoming a more global citizen, which is definitely what I've learned from my travels.

TP: Thank you so very much. Audrey, our time is kind of a little bit limited; and I know you’ve got to get packed and ready to get to Vietnam. Tell us, you know, we only have you for three years here at SUU, like you identified. Any last minute words of wisdom—if you were to counsel a new freshmen or people that may be thinking here, “You know, I’ve had one semester of SUU; that is enough for me.” Any words of wisdom or counsel to say, “Hey! Get registered for next semester!” or, “Come back;” anything at all that you could help to encourage them to stick with us?

AT: Yeah, I've actually thought about this a lot lately, but for my first year it definitely was a little bit hard. And I think a lot of people can relate to that, that after the first year of college you're not really sure if it's for you or not. But I would say that college really is what you choose to make it, and it can be an amazing experience to grow and to learn both personally and for your education. And to anybody out there who's listening I think really what you should go and do, if you take anything away from this, is that you should find something where you can invest in yourself and your education. Whether that's going to be traveling and studying abroad like we talked about or maybe something smaller. I think those are the things that are going to make this point in our lives, you know, the most meaningful. If you can find something where you can invest in yourself, you're becoming more than yourself, and just having a new unique experience: that's going to be most meaningful. And you can definitely do that in college and that's going to make SUU an amazing place to study and to get your education, is if you can find those. If you can just stick through it a little bit longer and then find those things that make it meaningful, that’s when you're going to have the best experience.

TP: I'm just proud of you, miss! I'm proud of you. You send some pictures when you're over there. Stop by and…

AT: I will!

TP: …share some pictures when you get back; we'd love to hear what fun you've had. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and excitement about learning, and I'AT:ust very proud of you. Audrey, keep doing the wonderful things you’re doing, OK?

AT: OK, thank you so much, Tony.

TP: Thanks, Audrey! You have a great visit and a great rest of a semester. And friends: we'll see you next month on teaching and learning here at SUU. Thanks guys. Ciao, ciao!