These personal skills were learned the hard way for Pham and Ogbazghi because they were needed due to family circumstances and obligations that were pretty much thrust upon them.
Although Pham was born in the United States, her parents immigrated here in 1986.
However, being fluent in Vietnamese and English, she not only was given the responsibility of assisting her mother, who was attending Georgia Tech, with translation issues in regard to her school work but, in addition, assisted her autistic brother with his school studies.
“Many times, I would be helping one of them while the other was there also needing my help as well,” Pham said.
For Ogbazghi, the situation was similar. He was born in Texas but, prior to that, his family had emigrated from the country of Eritrea in East Africa.
His father had a difficult time finding employment in the U.S. but, with temporary jobs he would fine, was able to keep the family together and a roof over their head.
However, Ogbazghi was able to help the family by baby sitting his little brother while his mother and father both found employment at a restaurant.
His parental responsibility increased, however, when his father became manager of a restaurant owned by a family member, which required him to work much longer hours.
“Having that new position as manager helped our family from a financial standpoint,” he said, “but they were usually not home in time to help my then 10-year-old brother do his homework and get him ready for bed so those responsibilities fell to me.”
Ogbazghi added that this family situation required some sacrifices on his part, “but they were sacrifices that had to me made while my parents were earning the money to support the family,” he said.
Although it was an understanding of the English language that, at times, had Pham’s mother coming to her for help with understanding the difficult terms associated with her mother’s studies in mechanical engineering, Pham was also helping her bother with his reading but not for the same reason.
“My brother understood what he was readying but could not apply it,” she said.
Pham and Ogbazghi believe their increased family responsibilities helped them become better students and reach the high academic plateaus they have achieved upon graduation.
“My family members have always been good scholars and I wanted to keep that family tradition going with my studies,” Pham said.
For Ogbazghi, his family responsibilities taught him how to best utilize his time, which, he said will be a critical element for him in reaching his academic and career goals.