Name: Emily Tran
Major: Gerontology with a Minor in Asian Studies
Expected Graduation Year: Spring 2023
Organizations: President of the Intergenerational Gerontology Alliance (IGA), Undergraduate Assistant for SDSU’s Social Policy Institute, 2022 Fellow of the San Diego Leadership Alliance, Organizer for Viet Vote SD, Chair for the Commission on Aging in Chula Vista, Policy & Advocacy Chair for the Young Professionals Serving Seniors (YPSS)
What made you decide to enroll in the School of Social Work at SDSU?
I enrolled at SDSU, specifically to attend the College of Health and Human Services because of my passion for Gerontology. I became a Certified Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) back in 2013 and found my passion through my work experience with older adult populations specifically in the Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE). I held several different roles, such as charge nurse, director, and administrator in several RCFEs throughout Southern California. I witnessed firsthand how RCFEs only catered to private paying wealthy older adults and families. I started to question the ethics and morals within the healthcare system and I decided to pursue furthering my education in the economic injustices, and the inequities within the healthcare system. By pursuing a higher education, I am aware that the path for me to make change comes from the top down. I have chosen to Major in Gerontology and minor in Asian studies at SDSU to figure out a path to reform the current healthcare policies and challenge the systems in place.
What has been your most memorable experience in the School?
My most memorable experience has been through the connection with the professors on campus and receiving mentorship from them, specifically with Professor Mario Garrett. He has been able to provide mentorship and insight regarding what happens in the older adult aging space and how to navigate the intricacies of the bureaucracies, on and outside of campus. Professor Steve Hornberger has been another individual who I value and appreciate since I have been in this space. I was able to do my internship at the Social Policy Institute and was able to grow my network and gain more insight by making connections with individuals from the aging space and community members outside of campus as well. This was all able to happen because of the professors who were able to open doors for me and opportunities to work with organizations that work with the same populations that I do.
What are your plans after graduation?
Post-graduation, I will be pursuing my Masters. I am still debating whether to pursue a specialization either in Epidemiology, in Public Policy, or in Legal Studies. I am also looking into going straight into a Doctorate degree in Gerontology as well. So, I am still exploring the avenues and the opportunities to see which one makes the most sense for me as I move forward in the aging space doing advocacy work.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the program?
My favorite aspect of the Gerontology program has been getting to know and creating bonds with my professors and others in the program. There are very few of us majoring in Gerontology, so it’s been nice to be around others who share the same passion and interests.
For those who are not familiar with Gerontology, it is the study of aging. It is an emerging field with exciting opportunities to explore and learn more about the aging process. Gerontology involves multidisciplinary approaches to all aspects, including physical aspects, as well as social, mental, and societal implications of aging. I am able to apply my lived experience, knowledge and understanding to share and engage with other folks in the aging space. These types of conversations are needed in order for us to better serve older adults. Being in this program ultimately allows for me and others to partake in conversations surrounding advocacy work in the aging population, as well as other topics
Describe why you would recommend SDSU to prospective students.
I would recommend SDSU to prospective students, specifically in the Gerontology program. You can build a network and build connections with other like-minded individuals. I find a huge value in being able to connect with your classmates, cohorts, and professors. Particularly with professors who have been in the field and doing the work for much longer, you are able to connect and learn from them. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel, you can just hop on board with pre-existing conversations and engage in meaningful relationship building.
How did you persevere the pandemic as a student?
For me, it first started in creating a space that sparked me joy. I like anime, so I was able to use that to decorate my workspace to make it more joyful for me. Also having personal time to do self-care like meditation and doing a lot of breathing exercises has helped me get through the pandemic. Something I found was really helpful was to do block scheduling which allowed me to hone in on specific times of the day to do schoolwork, self-care, personal life, and reminders to step back for breathers. As a Millennial, I have been cultivated in a space where resilience and perseverance is a “good thing”, however at the same time burnout is real. I am also in the organizing space, so I understand that we need to have boundaries and balance a lot of different things. Now that everything is via Zoom, it is so easy to jump onboard to do a lot of things with the expectation that we can “show up” virtually for everything. However, on the flip side, you must establish boundaries and let people know that you are only available during certain times and to be able to say no.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
On campus, I want to share one project that I am proud of during my time at SDSU. Along with other classmates, we were able to put together and create a student-run organization on campus, Intergenerational Gerontology Alliance, IGA. It took me about a year and a half to get it started, and we finally have enough people to move forward to apply and be a “Recognized Student Organization” on campus. It is super exciting for us in the Gerontology space to be able to create a space for the current students to get together and engage in more meaningful relationship building through Intergenerational activities with older adults, alumni, and different stakeholders within the aging space.