I was born in 1972 and named Dang, Tam Thanh. My biological mother is Vietnamese and my biological father is AfricanAmerican, who served during the Vietnam War. I do not know who my biological parents are, or if, they survived the Vietnam War. Nevertheless, I am grateful I was adopted in 1973. My mother is Latina and my father is Canadian French. Here in America, close friends and family referred to me as Thanh. I come from a very diverse and multi-culture background.
1. What are your strengths and goals? Tam 43 years old and a nontraditional student throughout the course of someone’s lifetime. There will be difficult times that someone will have to experience such as personal misfortunes and life’s situations that we have no control over. When adverse situations do occur over the course of a person life span, they can find themselves learning about their own strengths and goals. An example is the loss of family member or home. In 1980 my adopted father, my grandfather passed away and I was not allowed to attend the funeral. I became angry, bitter, and resentful because of this.
It took years to understand that they were protecting an eight-year-old child from seeing the cold motionless images of death. In addition, my adopted mother’s parents passed away a week apart from each other this past March of 2015. They lived a full life into the ages of 89 and 90 It was sad to see them leave our lives but I did not become resentful and I reached out to people who are within my support system and asked for help from my peers, professors, and friends. On the other hand, with being homeless the last three semesters I had to learn about the community resources here in Bexar counties.
An example is finding nonprofit organizations like Christian Assistances Ministries, Salvation Army Dave Coy Center, and Travis Park United Methodist Church. Each of these places provides different types of services like food, clothing, and shelter. Nevertheless, these organizations are here for people in the community who may need some additional assistance. Thad to learn to survive but most important was learning to put aside my own personal pride and reach out and ask for help. This was difficult for a 43year-old man to accomplish because of the fear of rejection.
When reaching out and asking for help I began to trust other people and their organizations this can also help someone else to understand that people do care about others and this will install hope into someone else while building a strong foundation and network of people for the future. The first goal is working with my support team family, professors, and mentors to accomplish the feat of getting off the streets. We plan to tackle this by obtaining steady employment by the start of spring semester 2016.
The second goal is I will complete the San Antonio College Associates of Arts Social work program because I will further my education by graduating and transferring to a four-year university. The third goal is I will earn a BSW in Social work while continuing to build relationships with people in the community to help start a nonprofit organization that will help nontraditional students, single mothers, and single fathers. The fourth goal is I will further, my education by earning a MBSW and then who know sky is the limit!
2. What knowledge or experiences can you impart on other young males? Everyone’s life is similar but different, we all will have to experience some things in life that will be positive experiences, and some will be negative experiences. Raised in Vermont in a community that is 96% white occupancy, I had to learn to deal with racism and prejudice. Thad to learn to deal with my feelings around being adopted and not knowing my biological parents. I had experienced alcoholism and recovery at the age 22. I had experienced being part of a winning sports program and losing sports program in high school. I have experienced the loss of family members. I have experienced dropping out of high school.
I have experienced going from job to job. I experienced homelessness. I have experienced asking for help. I experienced earning a GED and attending college. I have experienced to set goals despite what obstacles that could stand in the way. The most beneficial thing is if someone else has or will experience some of these similar situations in the future. I can share with the other person how I handled the situation or how I would handle a similar situation. I hope by communicating with the other person they can understand they are not alone.
3. Tell us how this opportunity would change/advance your long term goals? Having the opportunity to speak to high school students will also help to improve a person’s communication and presentation style. This will give me the courage to step outside of the comfort zone to help prepare the foundation of the high school students by providing guidance, experience, knowledge, and resources for them so they will also become successful leaders in the community. This opportunity is about the other students who want to take the risk to achieve their own personal and educational goals. By me helping, them they help me stay focused to my own academic and personal goals.
4. Tell us something you’ve done that’s made a difference in your community? Some people say that with someone being homeless such as myself. I am being part of the problem rather than the solution. However, imagine arriving into San Antonio and you just stepped off the Greyhound bus and you have no place to live. Imagine being: the single mother who is looking for a women’s shelter, imagine that you have no food, and do not know where the food pantries are, imagine your electricity is about to get cut off or facing an eviction notice. I have encountered several similar situations like these.
This is where provide the knowledge and information of the nonprofit organizations that will help them while giving them directions to places and times where they can eat, sleep, shower and find emergency financial assistance. “The greatest risk in life is the risk in not taking one; believe in yourself when no one else does. Remain patient and never give up” The greatest difference | have made in the community is taking the risk to earn a higher education while putting my pride aside to ask for help because this can set an example to men that it is okay to ask for help.