Faculty Spotlight: Tam Dinh, Ph.D

Sunya Chay, Staff Writer

Tam Dinh, Ph.D., is the Program Director of Social Work at Saint Martin’s University and also serves as an Associate Professor of the College of Arts and Sciences. She focuses her instruction and research on mental health, diversity, Asian communities, and trauma.  

Dinh started out in pharmaceutical studies at the University of Washington, but admitted that she did not like the major because it was not of interest to her. It was not until she took a social work class that she found her passion. 

“I realized that I enjoyed it [social work] and I realized that I would have been an okay pharmacist, but I would be able to help more people as a social worker,” Dinh stated.

Dinh started out by doing community work in Seattle with immigrants and refugees from East Africa. This service is where she started to see a future for herself in social work. 

When asked if this was something that motivated her to pursue social work, Dinh said, “I just found something that spoke to me and when you find something that you love, you don’t see it as work. I saw so much need for social work because back then, there were not a lot of social workers.”  

For Dinh, being able to bring a different perspective to teaching social work allows her to find more opportunities for her students.

“For me, being a good professor means that you focus on three things: teaching, service and scholarship,” Dinh said. She was able to receive a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Grant, which allows students to be able to intern in the field of substance abuse. Even though it was a daunting task, she did not see it as such as she worked in increments so that her workload would not be as stressful.

When asked what motivated her to apply for the award, she said, “If you look and open yourself to the universe, you start to see the opportunities for yourself. Sometimes we are too scared to access those opportunities when we see them. But once we put ourselves out there, we start to wonder, ‘Why not you?’”

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