Diana Trinh, a recent Richmond graduate, worked for two and a half years as an international student assistant at the Office of International Education and is now employed as a full-time international student adviser.
Trinh graduated from Richmond with a major in accounting and a minor in Chinese.
"I really liked accounting, but it was not something I wanted to pursue," she said. "I wanted to be around college students."
While she was still an undergraduate student, Trinh was involved in many international-related groups and programs, she said.
As president of the Asian Student Union on campus, she said she had strived to get members interested and involved with programs on campus and within the organization itself. Trinh said six Asian cultures had been represented in the group, and that the group welcomed American students.
While at Richmond, Trinh co-founded international month, she said. Trinh said Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina, associate director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and adviser for the Asian Student Union, had been her mentor since she was a student.
Laurenceau-Medina said he had mentored Trinh in student leadership. He said he had helped her learn how to navigate through challenging situations and had advised her on how to use the Asian Student Union as a vehicle to create awareness of the different activities the organization offered.
Laurenceau-Medina said Trinh had a smooth transition to her professional work opportunity because of her past experience as president of the Asian Student Union and as a student assistant for the Office of International Education.
He said the plan was for Trinh, now as a professional staff member, to eventually serve as a liaison between the Office of International Education and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Trinh said her passion for international advising had begun when she studied abroad in China in summer 2008 during the Beijing Olympics. She said, although she had been away from her family, she had become more independent and received support from the people around her.
"I just wanted to give back to the international students who come [to Richmond]," Trinh said.
She said her job was a way for her to support international students who had come to the United States in the same way she had received support in China.
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Trinh said her four years at Richmond had influenced her decision to become a full-time employee.
"Everyone that I met on campus has supported me and professors were mentors to me," Trinh said. "I want to give back to students what I got in my four years."
As an international student adviser, Trinh said her job consisted of managing exchange applications, being the first point of contact, answering questions, processing immigration documents, including passports and visas, helping out with international orientation and advising students on J-1 immigration issues.
Like many seniors who are about to graduate college, Trinh said she had also been worried about not finding a job after graduation. She said that the advice she could give was to not be discouraged and to remember there were always opportunities out there.
"Find something you love," she said. "You never know what you can find."
Trinh's passion for international advising has influenced younger international students at Richmond. Junior Joon Kim, an international student assistant, works with Trinh at the Office of International Education.
"Diana is especially passionate about helping others, and I am motivated by her passion to help out people," Kim said.
He said he had taken the job as an international student assistant because he had wanted to help out the international students and get to know them on a personal level. Kim said students were more comfortable talking to him and asking him questions because he was an international student.
Vivian Trinh, a friend and relative of Diana Trinh, said she was also following in Diana Trinh's footsteps. Vivian Trinh is currently social chair for Asian Student Union and hopes to become president of the organization in the future. She also wants to become more involved with international orientation programs, she said.
In the future, Trinh plans to get a master's degree in higher education, she said. This degree will help her obtain different job positions and offer her more opportunities to help students, she said.
"I could be more involved and help more students instead of just exchange students," she said.
Contact reporter Marie Jayme at firstname.lastname@example.org
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