This spotlight focuses on Devin Tran, a rising senior at the University of South Florida and a native of Orange County, CA. He is actively involved in the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, Inc. on campus as well as his school’s Vietnamese Student Association. This summer he is interning at the USDA Forest Service.
What was the moment in your life when you realized you wanted to explore public service?
I’ve actually never considered a career in public service until I started my internship with the US Forest Service and CAPAL. I’m on the pre-medicine track at USF, so going to graduate school as a medical professional has always been my long term goal. However, the experience of living and working in DC has opened my eyes to the wealth of opportunities available for a meaningful career in public service. One of my reasons for becoming a medical professional is that I want to make a difference in someone’s life. In a way, public service is very similar to becoming a doctor or physician assistant on a much larger scale. In one role one can make a direct impact on a single person’s life, and in another one can make a direct impact on the lives of whole communities. Interning for a federal agency has opened up doors for me to make connections that can lead to a potential career in public service. If given the opportunity, I would love to unite my love of medicine with the public need of greater access to healthcare for low income communities.
What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are you looking forward to the most in your position?
As a federal intern I work in the Lands and Realty Management of the US Forest Service, which oversees the use of over 193 million acres of federal land for public use and recreation. My main duties as an intern is to assist the division in supporting the goals of the Forest Service whatever they may be. I’ve had the opportunity to attend meetings with lobbyist and advocacy groups on behalf of fishing, hunting, sports shooting, and nature conservancy interests. Working for the Forest Service has been very exciting because each and every day is different and can be very spontaneous at times. Some days I might brief the national Director of Lands on a piece of legislation, while others I might get to offer my opinion on a current land dispute between the Forest Service and private citizens. No day is the same and it’s amazing to work with people that are so passionate about the work they do on behalf of the nation’s forests and grasslands. Forest Service employees find their work very rewarding and it’s something I can definitely see as an intern.
How does this internship help you with your professional goals?/What do you want to get out of it?
Working for a federal agency has helped me tremendously with the professional skills that can only be found from working for a large organization such as the Forest Service. As a restaurant host, I’ve never had the opportunity to work in such a business-like setting surrounded by so many professionals. As the youngest person working in Lands and Realty Management, I am thankful to be able to interact and learn from people who have built their careers on public service and the conservation of our nation’s land. This is exactly the meaningful experience I have been seeking as a young professional and I am glad that the Forest Service has exceeded my expectations.
What motivates you?
Economic injustice, social injustice, and institutional oppression of marginalized communities motivates me to pursue a career in public service. I’m in a privileged position to be where I’m at in DC and I want to make the most of this experience while I’m here. To me, that means making the connections and supporting the organizations and communities that will ensure a more just and equitable society. While I’ve never considered it before, seeing firsthand how decisions made in DC can affect whole communities all across the United States makes me want to pursue public policy as a career.
What is something that most people would not know about you?
Most people who know me would say that I have very strong political views and that I’m very passionate about the issues I care about. What many people might not know is that I don’t like talking about politics in social settings or parties. While I can talk for hours about social and economic injustices during panels and workshops, when I’m at a social event I only want to have a good time and hang out with friends. When people try to talk politics with me or debate at a party I usually try to sneak out of the conversation and hang out with other people.
When you get off work, what do you do? What are your weekend activities?
Once I get off work I love going to workshops and panels on Asian American issues, especially if there’s free food. There are at least a couple of these events each week so it’s a great way to hang out and meet other interns in a social setting. On the weekends I volunteer at a local hospice that cares for patients approaching the end of their lives, so it’s very different to the 40 hour work week with the Forest Service. I also work about 10 hours a week on the side so I can buy all the wonderful food that DC has to offer. In the very small amount of free time that I DO have a week, I enjoy hiking, biking, concerts, and taking in the sights and sounds of my neighborhood, Columbia Heights.
Born in Orange County, California, Devin Tran is a rising senior at the University of South Florida majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Astronomy. At USF, Devin was the Vice President, President, and is now the current senior advisor for the Vietnamese Student Association. In addition, Devin is a brother of Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, Inc., an organization that seeks to empower Asian American men to become future leaders. As part of his campus involvement, Devin has led community workshops on topics such as the glass ceiling, systemic and institutional racism, and solidarity between oppressed nationalities. He is interested in history and politics, with an emphasis on social justice. In his free time, Devin enjoys biking, hiking, concerts, and wrestling.
Meet all of our CAPAL Scholars & Interns here.
Posted by Felicia Wong
Felicia Wong is currently a senior at the College of William and Mary, double majoring in Neuroscience and Asian American Studies, and minoring in Biochemistry. She is president of the Filipino American Student Association, and current non-academic projects include creating films calling for diversity curriculums/requirements and establishing an official APIA Studies program. Felicia was also elected president of Global Medical Brigades to lead a sustainable healthcare program in rural communities in Nicaragua. She hopes to connect her interests in healthcare with the community she has found in her cultural background. Having lived in Germany for most of her childhood, Felicia makes yearly trips back to visit her family, providing opportunities for her to indulge in her greatest joys: touring castles, eating at cafés, taking fashion cues from strangers, cooking with her family. Non country-specific pleasures include: biking, watching live music performances, screaming because Game of Thrones.