Toan Pham

Country: Vietnam

Major/Minor: International Business

Graduation: Fall 2018

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Why did you choose JMU?

When I was choosing my college, I was amazed by James Madison University beautiful campus. The image of the Quad, an open area where students could hang out, was the place that striking me most. But that was not the only reason I chose JMU over other universities on my list. At the CHOICES program in Spring, I was overwhelmed with the warm welcoming atmosphere that James Madison University brought to its students. There were people in yellow t-shirt helping you with directions, there were students who always willing to tell you about JMU and there were faculties everywhere to solve any of your miserable questions. At that point in my life, I felt like i was surrounded by my friends, my brothers and sisters. JMU is definitely a home away from home for me. 

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class is German. It is one of my requirements for my major, International Business. My German class is small but I like it since everybody could talk with each other more. It is amazing how much we can learn from another culture by learning its language. In addition, my professor always assigns us in groups so that we could practice speaking with each other in German. I also have cultural projects throughout the course, which are enjoyable and helpful for me to enrich my knowledge. 

Besides studying, how do you occupy your time?

I spend my free time attending many organizations general body meeting to see what kind of activities will be taking place. I also spend my time searching more activities on beinvolved.jmu.edu website to look for more activities there. I also usually go to UREC to play basketball with my friends or working out after school. These activities help me release my stress and maintain my balance in life. 

What clubs and activities are you involved with at JMU?

Currently, I am the president of the International Student Association (ISA). As a president, I have to delegate tasks to other executive members within my organization. In addition, I also have weekly meeting with my executive board to plan on future events for ISA. It's a lot of work but it is really fun at the same time to work with different people. I also learn a lot from being a president by learning different leadership skills such as managing my time, enhancing my listening skills and improving my interpersonal skills. 

What do you like best about JMU?

As I mention before, I chose JMU because of the welcoming atmosphere. But that is only a small portion of what makes JMU amazing. The culture and spirit of JMU is what I like best. Homecoming events, the Madipalooza festival and with more than 300 clubs, there is always an event or activity waiting for you to explore, I think it is hard to find a place like JMU "Dukes from day one are alumni forever".  

What advice would you give to new coming student?
  1. Be open-minded: At times, it can be hard to balance you culture identity with U.S.’ culture, but it is a great learning opportunity. 
  2. Be involved, but not dissolved: always seek activities that you like and are passionate about, but don't forget the primary reason why you are here at JMU. 
  3. Be bold: don't be afraid of trying new things and sharing your ideas and viewpoints with others. You might fail or might sound silly at first, but every failure you make is a precious lesson for you. 

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