Beyond the face: Meet Nikki

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

You’ve seen them on the SkyTrain and walked past them at the mall. You’ve sat beside them in bus shelters and spotted them in newspapers… but just who are the people in our 50th Anniversary ad campaign? They’re not models; these are real Douglas students, working hard to achieve their educational and career goals – just like you.

Nikki Tran has advice for students who are struggling to figure out their career path: Don’t worry. Deciding what you want to study is not always easy, and Nikki had a few false starts before she found a program that made her happy.

Nikki started post-secondary at another institution with the goal of becoming a teacher.

“I chose teaching because I’d always really liked helping other people understand concepts. I was a peer tutor in high school, and it felt really good when somebody actually understood something because of me,” says Nikki.

But her parents didn’t agree with her decision and convinced her to look at other career options.

“My parents are from Vietnam and sacrificed a lot to make a good life for us in Vancouver. I want to live up to their expectations for my future career. They imagined me going into business or pharmaceuticals.”

Nikki took a year off to reconsider her options. At her parents’ recommendation, she picked up a few accounting and business courses at Douglas. She did well, and decided to continue. But her second semester didn’t go as smoothly as the first. She took another year off school to reflect on her options. But she was starting to panic.

“It reached a point where I didn’t know what to do. I was worried I was taking too long to pick something, or that I would pick the wrong thing and waste time studying something I wouldn’t end up pursuing,” says Nikki. “

But the more she put off school, the worse she felt.

“Many of my friends had already graduated, and I felt like I was falling behind. Because of that, I was letting my parents make my decisions for me. But if I kept that up, I wouldn’t be happy. That’s when I decided to go back to my original idea of teaching.”

The pro shot you’ve seen around town
Nikki IRL: Still quite glam in our opinion

Read more: From college to Harvard, math professor got her start at Douglas

With her mind made up, Nikki returned to Douglas. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to pursue, but she let herself explore, and soon discovered the answer.

“I took courses in English and psychology, and then I took one sociology course and was hooked. I knew right away that’s what I wanted to learn,” says Nikki.

Nikki is now completing an Associate of Arts in Sociology. Once she graduates, she aims to transfer to university to complete her bachelor’s degree, and then do her teacher training.

Read more: From sociology to youth justice, this grad found the path to her dream job at Douglas

Nikki says it was only when she stopped worrying about what she was going to do – and what her parents thought she should do – that she was able to discover what she loved. She offers the same advice to other students.

“The more you force yourself into something, either because you’re trying to meet someone else’s expectations or because you’ve already taken courses for a specific program, the harder it’s going to be to figure out what you actually like. You’ll be shutting the door on unexpected opportunities,” Nikki says. “In trying new things, I eventually figured out what I really liked, and my plans for the future just created themselves.”

How do Nikki’s parents feel about her decision?

“Ultimately, they just want to see me succeed, regardless of what I do as a career.”

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