NyNy (Phuong) Vu was born in Vietnam and came to California with her family when she was six years old. Growing up in an immigrant neighborhood in Sacramento, NyNy saw first-hand the impact of environmental problems on underprivileged communities. “My goal in high school was to grow up to help the immigrant community,” she said.
Even with a career path in mind, it took a long time for NyNy to settle on a major. She enrolled in as a freshman in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, then switched to Environmental Toxicology in her second year. She changed direction again after spending some time in laboratory classes. “Working in laboratory is not something that I can imagine doing for the rest of my life,” NyNy said. “It might just drive me insane.” Her experience in the lab inspired NyNy to pursue a double major in Spanish and Environmental Science, with an emphasis on GIS (geospatial information systems). “I hope in the future I will be able to do environmental health and advocacy work for the Hispanic community,” she said.
Despite taking at least 16 credits every quarter, pursuing a double major hasn’t prevented NyNy from participating in extracurricular activities and internships. She plays alto saxophone in the Cal-Aggie Marching Band-uh and traveled to Ecuador in 2017 to work on preservation and rehabilitation of tropical habitat as a fellow sponsored by the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies. She also works three days a week at the Community Water Center in Sacramento, a nonprofit that develops and supports community-driven solutions to address drinking water problems in California’s Central Valley communities. For the center’s work in rural Tulare County, where some areas rely on bottled water because of drinking water contamination, NyNy uses her Spanish fluency and her GIS skills to help identify communities in need of water help. “I love being able to use both sides of my majors,” she said.
Discover how easy it is to add a major or minor at haveitall.ucdavis.edu.