For the past 15 years, MyHanh Barrette, G ’18, has devoted her professional energies and a good deal of her free time to serving her fellow Vietnamese-Americans in the Boston area.
That devotion to her community, together with her excellent academic work, recently earned Ms. Barrette special recognition at BSU when the Milton resident was selected as the student speaker at the annual Graduate Student Honors Scholarship Ceremony on April 26.
Ms. Barrette, who is pursuing a master’s degree in social work, plans to use the speech to highlight both the quality of the instruction and the supportive environment she has found here at the university.
“I really enjoy the personal connections that are possible on campus,” she said. “Everyone feels accessible… I feel like the people here want me to succeed.”
Ms. Barrette was 11 and spoke no English when she first arrived in Boston in 1992. Living with her sister and father, she enrolled in the Millbury public schools, benefiting from the system’s individual ESL classes. She later joined her mother in California, where she completed high school and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Irvine in 2002.
Although her degree was in computer science, Ms. Barrette said her real interest was – and remains – community work.
Since returning to the Boston area after college, she has served as a teacher, principal, and board member with the Vietnamese American Volunteer Association, which runs weekend Vietnamese language schools, and as a scout leader, committee member, and cub master for the Massachusetts Vietnamese Scouting Association, earning a wood badge for her leadership.
Ms. Barrette also created a new foundation to assist with the opening of Vietnamese language schools north of Boston. Professionally, she has worked for 10 years for the state as a court interpreter.
“I feel really good about working with people in strengthening the community,” said Ms. Barrette, who is married with two children. “It’s a just a sense of service that has always been in me.”
Ms. Barrette, who hopes to become a clinical social worker, was motivated to pursue the career change from her experience as a court interpreter, seeing Vietnamese Americans missing out on mental health services because of language and cultural barriers.
“I want to go in and fill that gap a little,” she said.