Pinnacle Q&A: Helen Ham, the 2024 Vancouver Campus Pinnacle

By Kenna Caprio

April 29, 2024 — Though she plans to start out working in the marketing field, Helen Ham, this year’s Vancouver Campus Pinnacle Award recipient, has designs on a future in real estate. Read on for more about how Ham pursues success in all things. Ham will speak on behalf of her fellow graduates at the Vancouver Campus Commencement ceremony on May 1.

A young woman stands outside, in front of blooming trees.

FDU: Why did you decide to study business? Can you share a particularly challenging academic project or assignment that taught you a valuable lesson?

HH: I discovered my passion for economics when I studied industrial engineering in Cambodia. I found myself drawn to the understanding how markets function; the dynamics of supply and demand; and the intricate relationships among businesses, consumers, and governments.

One challenging academic project was to create a marketing plan for a fictional Vancouver company. The real hurdle was working within a team. We scheduled meetings and established a decision-making framework that allowed us to collaborate. This experience underscored the importance of effective communication within a team. Success hinges not just on sharing ideas, but on understanding, respect, and collective effort towards a common goal.

FDU: Which college experience do you treasure the most? 

HH: Representing FDU at National Model United Nations (NMUN) in 2023 was transformative — it broadened my horizons, deepened my understanding of the world, and instilled in me a sense of purpose. We did months of intensive research, rigorous debate, and fine-tuning of our diplomatic skills to prepare. Stepping into the United Nations Headquarters was surreal. It’s a memory that I’ll cherish for a lifetime, reminding me of the power of education, collaboration, and the pursuit of a more just and peaceful world.

FDU: What was a defining career or academic moment for you? 

HH: A defining moment in my academic journey emerged from the depths of grief, as I channeled the profound loss of my dad into a relentless pursuit of excellence. As a result, I became a member in the Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society, representing the top 10% of undergraduate students from AACSB-accredited business schools. This milestone not only symbolized academic excellence but also embodied the resilience born from adversity.

FDU: What’s your biggest, shoot-for-the-moon dream? 

HH: Growing up, I watched my parents pour their hearts and souls into providing for our family, often sacrificing their own dreams and aspirations. To be able to repay even a fraction of their generosity by ensuring my mom’s retirement comfort would be the most profound validation of my existence.

FDU: What is your FDU legacy? 

HH: My legacy at FDU is deeply intertwined with fulfilling my dad’s dream. His greatest aspiration was to see me studying abroad, experiencing new cultures, and gaining an international perspective. FDU became the vessel. Every lecture, every assignment, every moment of growth and learning was a testament to his belief in me. At FDU, I not only pursued my own dreams but also honored the dreams of the man who believed in me more than anyone else — my dad.

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