Though nearly 10,000 miles separate Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus, concerns about the coronavirus pandemic have a way of bridging any distance.
So it was that Phung Tran, who works at a travel agency in Vietnam’s largest city and is the father of Florida Tech first-year aerospace engineering major Duong Gia Huy Tran, sent a box containing 1,950 cloth face masks to Florida Tech. He asked that the masks be provided to students who, like his son, have remained on campus, and to members of the Florida Tech family who continue to work on campus.
Residence Life staff put the masks in individual bags and placed them in the mailboxes of the more than 600 students on campus. The remainder will be provided to Campus Services and made available to students if they return to check in for online summer courses as well as university staff.
The generous donation came together over a series of emails between Tran and Donna Cassario, who oversees parent leadership in Florida Tech’s Office of Development.
In late March, Tran contacted Cassario with questions about the pandemic in the U.S. and Florida, noting that he was grateful his son was able to remain at Florida Tech and finish his Spring 2020 semester given that travel restrictions would have made a trip home almost impossible.
Told there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus and informed of the university’s multi-pronged efforts to mitigate any spread, Tran wanted to help, as well.
“Mr. Tran was still concerned that the State of Florida was not requiring medical masks to be worn,” Cassario said. “He then offered to send free medical masks to Florida Tech if we wanted them.”
Tran told Cassario that he has a friend who runs a company that makes the masks.
As Florida waits for sustained evidence of a slowdown in COVID-19 cases, Tran said the news is improving in his country. “I have good news from Vietnam,” he wrote in an April 21 email. “There is no new case during (the last) 3 days, no death. So we are ready for new life.”