PORTLAND — Philip Tran’s passion is helping people.
He feels his four years at Deering High School, with its diverse student population, has helped him to be more empathetic and gain a better understanding of the world.
Tran, who will graduate from Deering at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 7, plans to attend Clark University this fall in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he’ll be following in the footsteps of his older sister.
Right now, he’s torn between studying urban planning or psychology.
With a post as a city planner, Tran could positively impact whole neighborhoods with smart design techniques, especially urban neighborhoods that often get left behind, but, as a therapist he could help people individually.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping people, either in a broader context or one-on-one, ” he said. “I just always like to help people. If there’s ever anything anyone needs, I always like to do what I can to help out.”
He’s a student mentor at Deering, taking a freshman under his wing this past school year who has become like a little brother. “I enjoy the responsibility and I find being a mentor is very meaningful because it also helps me to understand who I am as a person,” Tran said.
He hopes to continue the relationship with his mentee after graduation and said that while he’ll miss Deering and its helpful, friendly, non-judgmental atmosphere, he’s also excited to begin the next chapter.
Tran credits his mother, Than Nguyen, with giving him the motivation to work hard and succeed. He said she often worked two jobs while raising two children on her own.
Along with his mother, Tran is also grateful for the help, support and overall cheerleading he received from Tim Eisenhart, his Algebra I teacher, and Tim Cronin, who oversees the Make It Happen program.
“I know I can talk to Mr. Eisenhart about anything, and Mr. Cronin was really the one who pushed me to get involved in things and he always told me: ‘I know you can do this,'” Tran said.
In addition to being a student mentor, Tran participated on the track and cross country teams, was a member of the arts and poetry club and a volunteer at the Make It Happen study center.
Outside of school Tran volunteers with Cultivating Community and has also taken part in several Telling Room programs aimed at area teens. “Before the Telling Room, I was never confident in telling my story or writing, now I am,” he said.
Tran works at the Shaw’s supermarket on Congress Street and joked that in his free time he most likes to take naps. But he also enjoys “hanging out with friends, listening to music, drawing and just having me time.”
Always intellectually curious, on his own time Tran has also studied astronomy, because “I’m fascinated about what’s out there,” as well as taking out books and reading relevant articles about how the human mind works.
Overall, he’s just grateful for getting “a lot of good opportunities” to do a variety of different things while in high school, including the chance to study abroad in Japan for a month in summer 2016.
Tran spent most of his time in Tokyo, but also had the chance to spend a weekend with a local host family out in the countryside.
“There’s a big difference between Portland and Tokyo,” he said. What he most enjoyed, Tran said, was “the food, the culture and the people. I was always amazed at how polite and respectful everyone was, everyone had such good manners.”
Tran hopes to spend a semester abroad while at Clark, but said this time he would like to go to Spain, “so I can put the Spanish classes I took to good use.”
Philip Tran, a senior at Deering High School, hopes to make a positive difference in the world.