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Monday, May 29, 2023

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Professor Giang Pham and student Chris Nguyen.

Must Have Mentorships and How To Get One

College students with mentors have better school and career outcomes but finding the right student-mentor match is essential.
By Peggy Pico, Video by Chris Leap, Scott Hargrove

“Take the mentorship jump — it’s so worth it,” said Chris Nguyen, a first-year master’s student in the School of Speech, Language and Hearing Services (SLHS) at San Diego State University.  

“I don’t say this lightly when I say it truly changed my life,” said Nguyen, “I went from this person who didn’t know anything about research and was kind of disconnected with my heritage and didn’t know where to go at SDSU.” 

As a sophomore, he met his mentor, Giang Pham, associate dean of research in the College of Health and Human Services and director of the Bilingual Development in Contexts research lab. 

“Mentoring is one of the things that gives me the most joy in my professional career,” said Pham. “I also think the research we do is highly beneficial to our students because it gives them hands-on training and excellent workforce experience, even if they don’t become full-time researchers.” 

According to the National Institutes of Health, college students with mentors have better school and career outcomes. But finding the right student-mentor match is essential. 
The SDSU Aztec Mentor Program (AMP) is an excellent place to start. It connects undergraduate and graduate students with career professionals, alums, and faculty mentors.

“Once a student registers for AMP, the system will recommend alumni and professional and faculty mentors,” said Diane Marin, SDSU’s Alumni and Career Development analyst. “It's about finding the right fit — and AMP can assist with that.” 

Nguyen, like many students, searched for a mentor on his own — and said he especially wanted to find a match who speaks Vietnamese.  

“Dr. Pham is one of the world’s foremost researchers on the Vietnamese language. So it means the world to me — that I get to use my cultural heritage in my research and work,”  said Nguyen. “And my Vietnamese language skills have improved so that I can stay better connected with my grandparents, parents, and family.” 

Pham’s advice on finding a good mentor match begins with some self-reflection. 

“Figure out what makes you tick, what makes you get up in the morning — excited for life and then find the people who are doing that,” said Pham. “To me, that’s mentorship.” 

“Take the jump,” said Nguyen. “Reach out directly to someone who has common goals and interests and is willing to help you. They will guide you through the journey.  Believe me, it’ll change your life for the better.”