When Phu Vu learned about a new organization that was formed to support SDSU’s LGBTQ+ business students in 2016, he immediately signed up. The organization, Out for Business (O4B), is in its third year and, Vu, now a senior majoring in finance, serves as the organization’s president.
“Through O4B, I’ve met ambitious and passionate individuals within the greater LGBTQ+ community that have similar goals of pursuing a career in business,” he said. “We are currently in the process of re-branding to the LGBTQ+ Pre-Professional Association in order to be more inclusive of all majors.”
Traditionally, it has been difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community to attain high ranking positions in the world of business – in fact, there are only three openly gay CEOs to head Fortune 500 companies. “I think there is a lack of, and a need for, more openly-proud LGBTQ+ leaders in firms around the world,” said Vu. “That’s why it’s so important that O4B is fostering a supportive community and offering leadership and other professional development opportunities for LGBTQ+ students here at SDSU.”
Vu chose to attend SDSU specifically to study business. “SDSU has a good reputation as a business school, it was affordable, and I wanted to stay close to my family,” he recalled. His family has lived in northern San Diego County since emigrating from Vietnam in 2001. “I am a first-generation college student,” he noted. “My parents didn’t even finish high school and came to the U.S. to provide a better future for my sisters and me. Being able to make them proud is what motivates me every day to try my best.”
He is also the first in his family to pursue a career in the finance industry. “I chose to study finance because I knew no one that worked in the field of finance,” said Vu, who is also a member of the Fowler College of Business Honors Program. “I was interested in learning about investment vehicles like stocks, and I wanted to be able to manage my personal finances. It was through my involvement with the SDSU Real Estate Society that I became interested in commercial real estate.”
Vu became a licensed real estate salesperson after he passed the required state exam during his sophomore year at SDSU. He currently works as an intern for the Port of San Diego where he helps to coordinate lease agreements and perform other tasks relating to the organization’s real estate holdings.
In his spare time, you can find Vu volunteering about seven hours a week at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in El Cajon, California as a certified tax preparer for the IRC’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. “I’m so glad I was able to do this because I have been able to meet individuals from all different backgrounds and help educate them about their taxes,” he said. “This is the second year I’ve volunteered with the IRC’s VITA program, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”