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New Face: Cuong Pham

New to Las Vegas and to civilian life, this former airman has found a home at the Graduate College.

People  |  Aug 20, 2018  |  By Vaneh Darakjian
man poses for photo

Cuong Pham of the Graduate College. (Lonnie Timmons III/UNLV Creative Services) 


Cuong Pham (who goes by “Pham”) is an administrative assistant III at the Graduate College, helping process forms and transcripts, assisting prospective graduate students with admissions questions, and pointing visitors in many different directions.

What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked or where you went to school?

UNLV is such a melting pot of people and cultures. Everyone has been so nice since the moment I started. They’ve all welcomed me to this new adventure. It has been a culture shock coming from the military to a more relaxed civilian lifestyle.

What are some of the differences between military and civilian life?

The comradery when you are in the service is unlike anything out in the civilian world, at least that I have experienced. As welcoming as everyone is (here), there is a bond that is built working alongside people who go through the same thing you go through every day. Random long hours led to unpredictable days; however, all of it was worth it if the mission was accomplished. That being said, I enjoy knowing when I will be done for the day and having my day planned out. Not having to run every other day is just a bonus.

Where did you grow up and what was that like?

My family settled down in Louisiana after coming to the United States from Vietnam. I have to say I miss the food. Nothing says good eatin' like a crawfish boil on a Saturday evening.

Have you found anything in Vegas that compares?

I cannot say I have found a place that compares to home, but there are places that have come pretty close. By far my favorites are Herbs and Rye and District One. Mostly, I stay at home and cook. I have a mean gumbo recipe.

What inspired you to get into your field?

My background is in logistics. I served seven years in the United States Air Force as a ground transportation troop so all I knew was moving cargo and people from one place to another, setting up the logistics behind those missions, and coordinating with different people. After separating, I wanted to get a better understanding of how things worked on the civilian side so I could learn good practices while I finished up my degree in business administration. I am three classes away from graduating from Purdue Global with a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in procurement. I should graduate in January. 

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.

I think it’s very daunting for someone to leave something they are so used to and not know exactly how things will turn out. Taking the leap to leave the military after being in for so long definitely made me think long and hard about it. Not being completely finished with school and quickly moving to a brand new city was definitely scary. You never know until you try, right?

How has Las Vegas been treating you so far?

Las Vegas has been amazing to me. There is always something to do, no matter the time … from hiking on the weekend at Mt. Charleston to going to eat somewhere near the Strip. I wouldn’t write home about the traffic, though, but I will mention all the nice outdoor activities that are available within a “short” drive.

What books do you have on your bedside table?

My school books. Work, school, gym — and donuts on Sunday … that pretty much sums up my life.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

English is not my first language. My parents wanted me to speak only Vietnamese in the house, even up until the day I started school. I was placed in an English as a Second Language class, but I picked up the language pretty quickly.