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Humanities scholar wants to share her love of language with students

May 8, 2018

Ashley Pham

Ashley Pham
English major and teaching credential | Fountain Valley (Orange County)

Ashley Pham graduated from Pacific in three years with her teaching credential. She's a Humanities Scholar, Ethnic Studies' Outstanding Student and just before Commencement, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, America's oldest honors society for the liberal arts. On top of that, she's already had her first job interview. For Pham, none of this is an accident.

"I was that kind of ... person who had to have everything planned," she said. "I made the decision to commit to coming to Pacific because of the Humanities Scholars program, and I made it clear with the advisers that I wanted to achieve my bachelor's and my teaching credential within three years."

Pham worked hard to stay on schedule and even took a science course one summer at the community college in her hometown near Huntington Beach.

It's all going according to plan—her plan, though, not her parents'. Pham's mother hoped she would follow her into pharmacy. Joanne Pham graduated from Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy in 1992. But Pham has found her purpose as a high school English teacher. She said she's been inspired by the teachers she's had and appreciates educators who are passionate about seeing their students succeed.

"It makes me sad when people consider teaching as a backup job, like a Plan B if they can't pursue whatever they want," she said.

Pham wants to share her love of poetry and literature with students. She said one of her favorite memories of her time at Pacific came from the transnational poetry class she took, where a small group of students read and discussed poetry together.

"That's really the most lovely thing I can imagine doing, and I can't wait to be able to teach that myself," she said.

Pham did get to share her love of literature at this spring's National Conference for Undergraduate Research at the University of Central Oklahoma. She explored how jazz has been used in Japanese literature and compared two books: "Jazz" by Toni Morrison and "South of the Border, West of the Sun" by the popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami. As part of her presentation, she wrote, "Through an investigation of both American and Japanese literature and media, I conclude that jazz—in its many forms and hands in different cultures—represents expression, power and, sometimes, even freedom."

The next part of Pham's plan is to work for a year teaching English, she hopes in Southern California. Then she will begin work on her master's degree.

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