Humans of Haas: Steven Pham

What is your story?

I grew up in LA. I came from a pretty low income, first-generation immigrant family. My family owned a salon. I was really integral to the process of them building their business from when I was about 8 or 9 years old. That’s when my interest in business began. I saw what it took to run a business. I was also involved in student government and I ran about twelve events from homecoming to professional development events. That’s where my leadership developed and my interest in business procured. I was also into healthcare at the time. My parents wanted me to become a doctor, and doing business at a hospital was my compromise for that. Eventually, I got into colleges and realized that none of them were for business. We also couldn’t really afford college at the time, so I went the community college route. During that time, I worked at a pro bono mental health start-up and realized healthcare wasn’t for me. I’d done an internship in high school at NASA and my parents had taken me to watch airplanes at airports when I was younger. I realized I loved planes and I wrote my Haas essay on my two main interests: aerospace and people. I’m especially interested in business development in NewSpace, which inspired me to join the Space Enterprise at Berkeley. I also love people and managing different cultures. I have a minor in public policy, which is focused on human-centric design. 

What is a memorable moment you’ve had at Haas?

I’m the executive vice president and cohort leader of HBSA. One of the most memorable moments I’ve had is when we threw the Haas formal. It was one of the biggest events I’ve worked on during my time at Haas. We looked back on previous years to see what we could do to make the overall experience better. We narrowed it down to price (making it cheaper), location (making it relatively close), and experience (making it a fun time). We were able to provide unlimited photo booths, have a really fun DJ, and get really good food. I think we were able to hit the nail on the head with it. 

How has HBSA shaped your college experience?

I’m a transfer student. I went to community college for a year before transferring to Haas. One of my biggest fears coming into Haas was not knowing anyone and being intimidated by the environment. HBSA gave me a really good opportunity to connect with my peers and other students while also giving back to the community and creating that positive environment for other students. 

What was the transition like from community college to Berkeley?

The transition has been really fun. We have a bridge program, called PreCore. We (all the Haas transfers) got this offer to move into this gigantic house with 13 rooms. That was a really fun experience because I got to know my fellow classmates really well. That was a really fun time as our first experience. I think the biggest adjustment for me was living alone. LA is definitely a bubble and I’ve never lived in a place that wasn’t LA, so that was definitely a hard experience for me.

What’re your goals for the future?

I really want to combine my interests in people and aerospace. This is a pretty wild goal but I really want to go to Mars one day and potentially manage their culture. Mars is one of the first stepping grounds for aerospace travel. I know Elon Musk has a lot of big plans to bring people to Mars. Managing how those people live their lives and meet their goals on a totally different planet is going to be really important for our species. 

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