Getting to know Megan Phan

Photo courtesy of Megan Phan

Known as the ASG Environmental and Social Responsibility Representative, Megan Phan has significantly impacted others by inspiring, educating, and providing great friendship to many BC students.

Although Phan was born here in Washington, her family moved from Vietnam to America in the late 1970s. Phan considers herself an Asian American in a Westernized culture living two identities.

At a young age, Phan began having “tics” in which she would do things with her body that she could not control. It started with constant eye blinking, and her strange behavior baffled her family. When Phan was six years old, she was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, a disorder that causes random, uncontrolled outbursts of movements or sounds. Most causes are linked to genetics; Phan does not have any family members with this rare disorder.

“It stinks because automatically, people define you or categorize you like, ‘Oh, she’s the girl with Tourette’s’,” Phan says. Though it’s been difficult for her to cope with the symptoms, she’s found new ways to optimistically deal with it.

Phan participated in a summer study program known as DOIT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology), which helps students with disabilities become more self-advocating through technology and learn how to be confident. This program was a huge support network for Phan. “Without it, it’d be harder for me in school,” Phan says.

If Phan could opt out of having Tourette’s she would. “It can be hard because I get exhausted easily. I use so much energy to have those outbursts and spasms.” But thinking on the bright side, Phan also understands that “there are worse things out there.”

Although the tics Phan has can be loud, she wants students to know that she’s not scary. She says, “Some people are scared to talk to me, or they are afraid they will offend me.” However, getting to know her is a delightful experience. Phan is funny, extremely intelligent, and an awesome person to know.

Phan also has a beautiful singing voice. When she sings, she does not experience any symptoms. Another tics reduction Phan has is when she reads books. She considers reading to be meditating because she often finds herself getting lost into the books and characters.

Unfortunately, there are no known cures for Tourette’s syndrome, but Phan says that this disorder has made her more compassionate.

Some of the activities on campus Phan participates in are working with the ASG and clubs, attending club meetings, working with departments, and increasing knowledge about the BC environmental issues. For example, recently the photography club and anthropology club worked together to demonstrate how much plastic we use. It all began with the art department wanting to bring a photographer from Texas, Paho Mann, who photographed waste and turned it into art.

For part of this project, Phan went dumpster diving at BC along with her colleague Deric Gruen, the Sustainability and Resource Conservation Manager, to collect water bottles. Many other departments contributed by donating their plastic bottles, and in the end, the entire cafeteria case was filled up in order to show how much plastic BC uses.

Another project Phan is constructing is bringing two local bands, Kris Orlowski and the Passenger String Quartet, to BC for Earth Week, which is held in April. The theme for this year’s Earth Week is “Living Local.” Phan likes these bands, especially one of the songs preformed by Kris Orlowski called “Small is Beautiful,” which encourages people to focus on local economies and buying local rather than going to huge corporations.

Phan is majoring in Environmental Science. Her dream is to become a forest ranger. Because of her love for educating others about the environment, she would also enjoy becoming an environmental science teacher.

Phan’s philosophy is to live simply. She encourages students, “Stop buying things you don’t need. I try to buy only things I need, and I use stuff until it breaks.”

On a final note, Phan inspires all to “fight for what you love and love yourself.” Phan serves as a role model to fellow students.