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A quality education must never be left to chance or socio-economic status

Hai Tran
2013 Fellow

Hai Tran

2013 Fellow
Everest Public High School
Redwood City, California

The son of political refugees, Hai immigrated with his parents to the United States from Vietnam. In fifth grade, at a time when he could barely string together a complete paragraph in English, his teacher challenged him to write a short story. Reflecting on this experience, Hai credits this teacher’s belief in him for changing the course of his academic trajectory.

Inspired by his educational experiences, Hai is pursuing teaching as a profession because he “ardently believes that all children deserve a teacher who believes in them.” As a first-generation college graduate, he is passionate about working with underserved youth and increasing their access to higher education. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, on a Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship, Hai participated in several programs that fueled his passion for teaching, including AmeriCorps and the Breakthrough Collaborative. While working at Breakthrough, a national non-profit aimed at preparing underserved youth for college, Hai had a very memorable experience. On his first day of teaching Pre-Algebra, a student admitted to him that she had always struggled with math. Committed to debunking her perception of math ability as innate, he worked with her on homework each night via  telephone. This student became his highest-scoring student and, more profoundly, began to redefine herself as mathematically capable. As one of his favorite teaching moments, this story highlights Hai’s belief that “success in math is not predetermined but achieved through perseverance.”

Hai earned a master’s degree in education from Stanford University. He is excited to begin positioning mathematics as authentically relevant to students’ lives. As an alumnus of the Humanities and International Studies Program (HISP), Hai is also motivated to develop students’ critical thinking skills through writing.

He perceives the KSTF fellowship as his professional journey to becoming the teacher that his students demand and deserve. To Hai, the most challenging part of being a teacher is serving every single student in the classroom; “it is putting into everyday practice the unyielding belief that all students can learn at a high level, if given diverse opportunities to succeed.”