In honor of May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Pacific Ties and Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) are teaming up to featuring Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Bruins. We’ll be posting one interview per day. 

Name? Major? Year? Favorite color?

Christopher Thai; Undeclared Engineering (though I’m trying to declare as Computer Science and Engineering); first year; green.

How do you identify yourself ethnically?


What student groups are you part of and what are some things you do in them? Favorite experiences in the student groups?

UCLA Symphony and UCLA Game Music Ensemble. I play the double bass, so I play in both of these music groups on campus. UCLA Symphony is hosted by the music school here and features non-music majors who want to continue playing large-scale symphony works. GME is student-run, and so it’s a lot more laid back. We just had our spring concert last Sunday, and it was an absolute blast!

Club Track Field: Recently started this quarter, since I ran cross-country in high school. Gotta stay in shape you know!

UCLA Dota: During Fall and Winter quarter, I was a part of one of our e-sports teams. Playing Dota 2 competitively after playing the game for years was definitely very fun (though we kinda sucked, but oh well!)

I’d say my more memorable experiences are from hanging out with fellow GME members. We get really close with one another, and hang out a lot of times, like go out to the movies or watch the LA Philharmonic.

Career goals? Extracurricular goals?

I want to work in the industry when I graduate, either with the big companies like Google or whatnot, or work in startups. Recently, I’ve been taking interest in game design, so that’s definitely out there. As for extracurriculars, now that I’ve kinda decided what I want to do in the future, I should probably join ACM or IEEE sooner or later, the EE and CS clubs at UCLA.

Favorite study spot?

Usually I study in my dorm, but otherwise I study in Powell mainly (or CS TA office hours on the lower floor of Boelter)

Where are you from?

Sunnyvale, CA (South Bay Area)


When I was receiving college acceptances, I had narrowed my choices down to UCLA, UC Davis with a Regents Scholarship, UCSD, and Purdue. I wanted in-state tuition, and I felt like I’d enjoy my next 4 years in the middle of LA a lot more than if I had gone elsewhere. Right now fortunately it feels that way!

Some bucket list items?

Go do things in LA (like hiking Hollywood or kayaking in Marina del Rey). Engineering and the workload it entails doesn’t really allow for that recreational kind of stuff sadly, and I don’t think I’ve seen enough of LA yet.

What cultural events do you participate in? Are there cultural festivals, practices, or traditions specific to your ethnicity that you practice?

I feel like I don’t embrace my Vietnamese heritage as much as I should, but it doesn’t bug me too much. I’ll still call my family and say to them “Chuc mung nam moi” whenever Tet, Vietnamese New Year comes around, and I’ll still respect my mother’s trips to the temples in San Jose to honor my grandparents, things like that. I’m proud to call myself Vietnamese, it’s just I don’t involve myself too much in our traditions.

Any advice for the UCLA freshmen?

Time management (especially if you’re taking a high number of units), and don’t stress over terrible grades. Don’t ever get behind on your work (I know, sounds obvious, but it really is a pain in the ass to pull an all-nighter doing the work you procrastinated on). At the same time, don’t be overly obsessed with the grades you get or how many points you got on a certain exam. As long as you’re learning, you’re already rewarding yourself, and a couple bad grades isn’t the end of the world. Leave some time to chill and don’t focus on school 24/7.

Check out Asian Pacific Coalition’s new website!


Ethan Pak is a second-year MCDB major, having written for Pacific Ties since winter 2016. Despite his interest in journalism, he hopes to enter medical school and work to become a physician.

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