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Student Profile: Nam D.

After completing Futuro’s Health IT Specialist Program in record time, Nam D. posted his resume on LinkedIn. Like many professionals looking for a new career, Nam was looking for connections. Unbelievably, he made one with none other than Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health. It turns out Van had played a key role in his education before — more than twenty years ago.

Nam remembered Van clearly—she had been his “Introduction to Business” professor at De Anza College in Cupertino and had made an impression on him by encouraging participation from all the students in the small class. One particular encounter stood out to Nam—he and Van had once had a conversation outside class and Van had asked him about his life goals.

Nam contacted Van through LinkedIn and explained their connection. Van was thrilled to hear his story.

Given Van’s accomplishments in the world of education and workforce development, it’s not surprising that she would make an impact on a student’s life. But the fact that she had impacted Nam’s life twice was a surprising connection even for her and a reminder of why she got into the field in the first place. “This shows once again that what education can do to change lives,” she says.

Like Van, Nam was the child of Vietnamese immigrants. Born in France to parents who were refugees from the Vietnam War, Nam’s family came to the United States when he was six years old. He struggled with reading and writing English, particularly since his parents moved often while seeking employment.

“I was already behind in terms of a language barrier. I had to play catchup,” he says. “It was also very hard for me to make friends at school because I knew I would leave them the next year.”

Even as a small child, Nam had been fascinated by computers. He remembers playing with the early Mac and IBM computers that had far less technical capabilities than today’s computers. One day, a disk from America Online offered him free access to an interconnected system of virtual destinations called the World Wide Web.

“Once I got on the internet, I saw the possibilities,” he says. “That always piqued my interest, but I never pursued a career.”

Despite his love of technology, Nam chose to work toward a degree in biochemistry, first at De Anza College and then at the University of California at San Diego. He was in his senior year at UCSD when he realized he didn’t want to go into biochemistry. He left school and had numerous jobs, often acting in an unofficial IT role for his colleagues at work.

When the company where Nam worked went out of business during the COVID-19 pandemic, he knew it was time to make a career change. He wanted to pursue a new career that would be in demand now and in the future.

His wife, a cytotechnologist at Kaiser Permanente, told him about the training that Futuro Health offers for careers in allied health.

Nam decided to pursue Futuro’s Health IT Specialist Program, typically a 24-week course. He met with a counselor in September 2021, eager to start the program beginning October 1. The online program provided by Futuro Health’s education partner allowed students to start a week early, and Nam immediately logged in. A week later, he was done.

“I was pretty engrossed. I did it in a week,” he says. That earned him the distinction as SynED’s February Natinoal CyberHero.

His next step was to come up with a plan with his Futuro Health mentor to take the two tests required so he could get the certification he needed for an IT job. The program for the tests typically takes 90 days. Nam completed it and took the tests in less than two weeks.

“I took the first test in six days, and I passed. I took the second test a week later, and I passed,” he says.

Since completing the Health IT Specialist Program, Nam has been inspired to continue his education to earn additional certifications that will enable him to expand his horizons. He says without Van and Futuro Health, none of this would have been possible.

Twenty years ago, Van asked him about his life goals. Twenty years later, Futuro Health helped him find them.

“Futuro Health laid the foundation,” Nam says. “They offered an opportunity for me.”