UNB News
News and stories from one of Canada’s top universities

How a coffee date and a supportive mother led Vy Phan to UNB

Author: Alex Graham

Posted on May 24, 2024

Category: UNB Fredericton

Vy Phan

A decision made over a cup of coffee changed the course of Vy Phan’s life.

Growing up in Vietnam, Phan had always thought about studying abroad, but financially it seemed like a dream that was just out of reach.

After taking a gap year off after high school, working part-time and saving money, Phan wasn’t quite sure what her next step would be. It turned out to be the University of New Brunswick (UNB).

“I was just at the coffee shop with one of my friends, just hanging out and she mentioned that Foreign Trade University (in Vietnam) has a transfer program with UNB,” she said.

“I thought this is interesting because if I study for two years in Vietnam I can save a bit of money, compared to studying for four years in Canada, which is really expensive.”

“I called my mom and asked her ‘what do you think? Can you support me (if I go to UNB)?”

“She said, if you really want to do it, go ahead. I’ll find a way to support you.”

That fateful statement propelled Phan to apply for a program that would send her halfway around the world after two years of study in Vietnam, into a new life here in Canada where she would finish her degree at UNB.

This year, Phan graduated from the Fredericton campus with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting with a concentration in logistics.

She gained valuable experience throughout her degree by completing three co-op terms, two with the Auditor General of New Brunswick and the last one with J.D. Irving, Limited. Phan then found a position at Irving Oil just before graduation, moving to Saint John where she’s also working on her Chartered Professional Accountant certification.

“Before coming to Canada I was planning on doing logistics, which is my concentration,” she said. “But after being at UNB for a while I thought, ‘why not try doing accounting, this seems interesting’. Because of these two foundational courses (logistics and accounting) it’s helped me to establish my career.”

With a bright future ahead of her, and plans that are in the works including getting her permanent residency, Phan thinks she will be staying in New Brunswick for the long term.

But what about her mother who helped launch her on her journey to New Brunswick with a promise to support her dream, years ago?

“She made it to see me graduate!” Phan said. “It was her first time in Canada. She’d never travelled anywhere like that before. Maybe a bit around Asia, but to Canada was a different story.”

“I’m really happy and grateful that she could make it to my graduation.”