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The Power of Gratitude: Practicing Compassion

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health

When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

Just three months after ThanhThuy Luu, ’13 Nutritional Science, ’16 MA Public Health, arrived in San Jose from Saigon, Vietnam, in 2008, she started her first semester at San Jose State. “I worked in the food industry in Vietnam and I burned out. I fell in love with nutrition,” says Luu. A first-generation college student, Luu already held a two-year degree in chemistry from a university in Vietnam when she decided to follow her heart into nutrition science.

In no time, she was excelling. In 2011, Luu was named a President’s Scholar, and this year she received an Alumni Association Dean’s Scholarship for the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. “It is financial support but, more importantly, it is great motivation,” she says. “I came here not long ago and it is great to be recognized. I feel accepted into the academic community.”

Now enrolled in the master’s in public health program, Luu’s goal is to work as a health educator with English- and Vietnamese-speaking adults and seniors and ultimately teach as a university professor. “I am grateful for the cultural diversity at San Jose State,” she says. “The traditions, beliefs and values here are from all over the world. I enjoy that because it helps me prepare for my career.”

“I grew up in a Buddhist family; compassion is what I was taught as a child,” says Luu, who was nine years old in 1975 when Saigon was captured by the North Vietnamese forces and her brother, a soldier fighting for South Vietnam, was imprisoned. “Public health is more than nutrition. My passion for public health is built on the compassion I have cultivated in my life. When donors help students achieve their goals, they are practicing compassion.”

View The Power of Gratitude series.