Brian Phan likes to be in the middle of everything. It’s why he lives in a downtown loft, handles communications for the USC Veterans Association and plans to work as a physician assistant in an emergency room.
Phan was born in Orange County in 1991; his father had fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon 16 years earlier.
“They fled in little boats, hence the name ‘boat people,’” Phan said. “He got to Savannah, Ga., in 1979 and was one of the first refugees to get here. My mom stayed in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines before coming to America in 1984.”
Phan served eight years as a hospital corpsman 2nd class. As he traveled to 22 countries, he created a photographic travelogue. His pictures helped him build a strong social media presence, a talent he’s using to boost participation in the Veterans Association during the online semester.
“We still try to create a community online and bring veterans together,” he said. “We’re using Slack, Instagram and LinkedIn, and we’re doing a lot of online events. We’re working to open up more opportunities for veterans, including recruiting nights with top companies that are ready to hire.”
Now a junior studying disease prevention and health promotion, Phan’s career path is linked to his service as a hospital corpsman, providing care to active-duty sailors and Marines as well as their families. The first-generation college student transferred to USC from Norco College last year and is moving full speed ahead for a career as a physician assistant in an ER setting — a position also known as a trauma P.A.
“It’s not an easy job, it’s not a quiet or chill job,” he said. “I kind of need that excitement in life.”
USC veterans organizations mark Veterans Week Nov. 9-13.