Sean Tran with friends at Hodges University

Learning to Thrive

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Everyone knows somebody who is always a pleasure to be around and who is always wearing a smile. This person maintains a positive attitude, is supportive and encouraging, enjoys getting involved and giving back, and believes in making a difference. At Hodges University, this person is Phuc “Sean” Tran.

“I always try to stay mentally positive, which enables me to attract and influence other people who share that same positive energy,” he said.

Sean with Dr. WorthamA student in the cybersecurity and forensics program, and active member of Hodges’ social scene, Tran takes the initiative to get involved, work hard and establish relationships with students, faculty and staff. Equipped with a charismatic and approachable demeanor, he quickly builds connections – a trait he learned at a very young age.

Moving from Vietnam to Erie, Pennsylvania, at 3 years old with his mother, two brothers and his sister, his family lived in low-income housing with his mother working to make ends meet. While in elementary school, Tran knew little English; however, because of his young age, he learned the language quickly.

“When we lived on the west side of town, there was a YMCA. Parents could take their kids after school to participate in extracurricular activities while the parents worked,” he said. “I remember seeing these kids picking up trash and asking, ‘who are you with?’” With that one question, Tran visited the YMCA to learn more and discovered a multitude of activities available to children in the community. “That center brought us together, and that is how I developed my English and social skills,” he said.

Enrolling at Central Tech High School, he spend the first three years taking courses related to auto mechanics and AutoCAD, which is more focused on engineering and design concepts. Possessing an interest in computers and technology, Tran opted for courses in computer programming during his senior year. Receiving a computer from his mother while in middle school, Tran admits, “It was expensive; however, she bought it because it was an investment in my future. I learned a lot about computers by breaking and fixing problems.”

Graduating high school in 2006, there was no plan to attend college. Instead, his interest in joining the U.S. Marines peaked when his friend joined. However, after hearing his mother say, “No,” he moved to Naples, Florida, in 2007 to work in his older brother’s nail salon. One day, a U.S. Army recruiter came in and Tran saw his opportunity to discuss a future in the military.

“I told the recruiter I wanted to make sure the skills I learned in the military would translate into the civilian world when I get out,” he said.

Sean Tran in the militaryOpting to become an x-ray technician, he enlisted in 2007 and signed a six-year contract. Placed in the Quick Ship program, which provides recruits a bonus to ship out immediately after enlisting, he left for basic at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, before traveling to Fort Sam Houston for advanced individual training for x-ray schooling. Given the opportunity to choose his next station because of his high scores and proven knowledge, he moved to Hawaii for six months to provide care as an x-ray technician at Tripler Army Medical Center.

“Once I left Hawaii, I ended up at Fort Lewis in Washington at the Madigan Army Medical Center. There I was able to work unsupervised,” he explained. Working in areas such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), he applied to work in picture archiving and communication system (PACS), which put him into a more technology-based position at the medical center.

During his fifth year of service, he signed up for an additional two years, and in 2013, he transferred to Fort Campbell where he worked in training tents with Army medics. In 2014, Tran was deployed for nine months to Afghanistan, saying, “I was the only x-ray technician, and I was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Returning in April 2015, he completed his contract and transitioned into civilian life. Living with his mother and older brother in Lehigh Acres, Florida, he knew attending college would open more opportunities. With a passion for the medical sector, his interest in information technology (IT) was stronger, so he began searching for colleges offering a cybersecurity program.

“At the time, there was a lot going on with cybercrime and trends in the market, and it interested me,” he said.

Sean Tran and Ashley ColonDiscovering Hodges to be the only school to offer such a program, he enrolled in the bachelor’s program and started in summer 2015 as a full-time student. Attentive in class, Tran admits he often asks many questions because he wants to know more. “It’s great that the professors have real-world experience because they apply their personal experience to what they are teaching in class,” he said.

Joining the Technology Society his first semester, he enjoyed getting to know fellow classmates who share a similar passion and interest in technology. With each new semester, he became more involved on campus, joining Fort Myers Ambassadors, Communication Club, Psychology Club and volunteering with the Veterans Services Center. Through his involvement, he admits, “I enjoy being able to network. Being involved allows me to get to know my peers and give back to the community.”

The connections and relationships he made while involved in Hodges’ clubs and organizations caught the attention of staff members in Student Development, especially Dr. Marcia Turner, dean of students. Accepting a work-study position with Student Development in summer 2016, he helps to spread the word about different events and opportunities occurring on campus for students. “I like to know what is going on, and I enjoy helping new students as they begin here at Hodges,” he said. When he isn’t posting flyers or attending various student-related events, he assists Jama Thurman, Hodges’ career services manager, with posting job opportunities on College Central.

Planning to graduate in 2018, he hopes to use his degree and work for a bank, school or start-up company, saying, “I want to do something to help change the world and make people’s lives better. I want to able to remove barriers to make room for efficiency.”

“Hodges is like my second family. Here, you are not just a number. Faculty and staff identify you personally,” he said. “Hodges has provided me a place to be myself, to grow and to thrive.”