Our Sisters: Ban Phung

Sister Ban Phung ’18 MBA ’21 is a pioneer.

She is one of a handful of sisters from the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hung Hoa, a Catholic religious order in Vietnam, to attend college in the United States. And she has become the first from her order to earn a master’s degree, in business administration.

Phung hadn’t planned on MBA studies, but while studying business as an undergraduate, a visit from her mother superior first planted the seed.

“My mother superior told me that in my convent, we haven’t had any sister who has taken business classes. She feels I have some skill in business,” she says. “I finally decided to take it to meet the needs of our congregation.”

Those needs are the kindergartens that Catholic sisters operate throughout Vietnam. The government doesn’t allow religious instruction in K-12 schools, but it does allow the sisters to operate preschools and kindergartens. Her congregation operates seven kindergartens serving approximately 1,500 students between the ages of 18 months and 6 years old. As students near school age, they receive instruction in math, writing, reading and science.

“My religious sisters have managed these kindergartens successfully. I do not plan to intervene or change the management in the kindergarten system. Instead, I want to share with my Sisters several new leadership business skills so that we can provide even better service to our customers,” she says.

After spending eight years in the United States, Phung also sees another opportunity for her to share what she has learned.

“I personally intend to organize an English center in Vietnam where some of my sisters who also studied in the U.S. and I can provide English lessons and programs for students who want to become more proficient in English,” she says.

This article appears in the winter 2022 issue of Alverno Magazine.

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