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Learn from the Best: Thi Tran encourages students to enrich their college experience

May 5, 2022, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College adjunct psychology faculty member Thi Tran wishes he had known more about navigating funding, student services and academic options at University of Michigan when he was an undergrad. 

One of the most impactful things he learned after starting college was that working while he attended college was an option, and that it adds to the college experience.

“I am a first-generation student,” Thi said. “I did not receive any guidance from anyone and did not know how to seek out resources. I was also a student that was in the middle, not high achieving but not low achieving and oftentimes those students are forgotten.”

Thi shares these life lessons, while also emphasizing mental health awareness, with the students he teaches in PY 201 General Psychology. Teaching at GRCC was a personal goal for him because it’s the college that serves the community where he grew up.

“I have always wanted to be a part of GRCC,” Thi said “GRCC serves a large demographic of students in the West Michigan area.” He also shared that he values the diversity of the GRCC student body, and that the strength of the psychology department curriculum is that it emphasizes the scientific method. 

Thi also teaches as a part-time faculty member at Lake Michigan College and as an adjunct faculty member at Kellogg Community College. His other work outside of GRCC includes doing research in integrative behavioral health, sports psychology, and behavioral therapies. He also has experience in student affairs through his graduate assistantships, and in providing therapy at clinics, university settings and for Veterans Affairs.

Thi holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University to earn an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and in Clinical Psychology, and he continues to study at WMU to complete a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

A career in psychology was an easy choice for Thi.

“I have been interested in psychology since high school,” he said. “I enjoyed learning about the mind, how it intersects with a variety of other subjects such as medicine, anthropology, sociology and sports.” 

Thi finds inspiration for his work in a few of his passions, such as sports and education. 


“Steve Nash the retired basketball player, now coach, is my hero because he has always been about the culture,” said Thi. “He was team oriented and about doing things for others. A person I admire is my current advisor, Scott Gaynor at WMU. He is always present, lives through his values, and truly acts as he speaks.”

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