Anna Phung received the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences’ first Maryland Promise Scholarship in fall 2019. Now, she is a rising sophomore biological sciences major with a concentration in general biology and a member of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College.
Phung’s scholarship was funded by the “Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise,” a campuswide matching program that provides need-based scholarships to undergraduate students from underserved populations in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. In its first year, the program supported eight students, including Phung. If fully matched by gifts from other donors, the program will establish a $100 million fund to provide need-based scholarships to UMD students. All donations to the fund are matched dollar for dollar by the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and UMD.
We sat down with Anna, a Silver Spring, Md. native, to learn more about what brought her to UMD and how she spent her first year on campus.
What made you decide to enroll at the University of Maryland?
I wanted to be involved in a large and busy community during my time in college. With the nation’s capital being so close and the number of organizations and clubs present at UMD, I am free to explore alternative career options and hobbies.
What career path do you plan on pursuing and how did you select that path?
I hope to become a physician assistant. Through high school, I experimented with various volunteer opportunities such as tutoring and cancer research, and I gradually developed an interest in the biological sciences and health. I have received so much love and support from my parents and brother and I would like to give back to them and my community as well. As a physician assistant, I could work in a challenging field while also directly providing assistance to those who need it.
What activities do you participate in outside of class?
I work with the campus Food Recovery Network to help repackage leftover food from the campus dining halls to be donated in the D.C. area, and I also teach STEM lessons at a local Prince George’s County elementary school through the Foundational Learning and Mentorship Experience (FLAME) program. I am currently training to be an EMT at a local fire station, and I will soon be starting an internship to research foodborne pathogens.
What have you gained from your living-learning program so far?
I am currently enrolled in the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College. Through it, I have been able to live and work with self-motivated students with similar career goals. The environment has encouraged me to stay on track career-wise and instilled into my mindset the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
Aside from academics, what else do you hope to take away from your time at Maryland?
I hope to take away a large repository of unforgettable memories and people. For me, college is a time for experimentation. I want to have the chance to dabble in sports, arts, service and research. Given the diverse student population, I would also like to be able to develop the invaluable skill of working with people of different backgrounds, personalities and perspectives.
What are your goals after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to enroll in a physician assistant program. My goal is to become mature and independent enough to support both myself and my family as soon as possible.
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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $200 million.