Student Spotlight 2022: Hanh Dinh, USMC

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Garden Grove, CA, and I served as an Ammunition Technician in the United States Marine Corps. I originally wanted to apply for an ROTC scholarship and become a Marine Corps officer, but by the time I contacted my recruiter, the application period for the scholarship had passed for that year. I was accepted into one of my dream universities, but the cost of attendance was too high, so I decided to enlist in the military. I did this to gain more background knowledge of the military and to see if I still wanted to become an officer in the future. I also saw the military as an opportunity to further my education, connect with people from different cultures, and gain valuable life experience full-time. 

Something fun about myself is that I am a huge Pokemon fanatic! If I could be reincarnated as any Pokemon, I would choose Alolan Diglett.

What was your educational background prior to attending WSP, and which of our courses did you attend? 

Before attending Yale’s all-women humanities and STEM courses, I had just finished my first year of community college. I also took a few college courses while on active duty, but those classes were online. 

Why did you decide to participate in WSP this summer, and was there a shift in your confidence level from the first day of the course to the last day? 

I wanted to connect with other student veterans and learn how they were able to make a successful transition going back to school. In addition, I was nervous about my transition to a four-year university, so I wanted to enhance my study skills.

To be completely honest, I didn’t feel confident that I would successfully complete the course after the first day. While it was advertised as a “boot camp” on the website, I did not expect the curriculum to be as intense as it was. However, I felt incredibly confident on the final day of class, and I was amazed at how much material we covered in two weeks. The support of my fellows and encouragement from my peers helped me power through the difficult curriculum, especially during STEM week when we had to do psets!

What were some key insights you gained during your courses, and what is your biggest takeaway? 

First, you do not have to read all of your assigned readings. Instead, focus on important concepts from the readings, giving you a general idea of the main topics. You want to know enough to speak about the reading during lecture/discussion time. Second, taking the time to create a thoughtful outline is crucial to the writing process. Before WSP, I did not think creating a draft or outline for my essays was worth my time. However, I learned that organizing your key ideas before diving straight into writing can greatly help streamline the essay writing process.

The most important thing I learned from this experience is that networking is important for your job search and your academic career. Programs such as WSP, Service2School, and REVU have great alumni networks that can offer invaluable mentorship as you navigate college as a student veteran.

I used to think I would be behind my peers attending school later, but I know now it is actually an advantage since there are so many resources to help us thrive in school as student veterans.

In one word, how would you describe your overall experience?

Empowering!

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