39 • Computer science program manager •
Idaho STEM Action Center • Boise
When Finia Dinh was just months old, her parents and her four older siblings embarked on a journey from Vietnam to the United States in search of a better life. Though her family didn’t speak English and had little money, they left the rest of their family behind and began a long journey with an uncertain result.
After a stay in a refugee camp in Sumatra, Indonesia, Dinh and her family came to Boise in 1980 and received citizenship in 1989.
Her parents worked any job they could find — several, in fact — to provide their kids with the basic necessities, Dinh says.
“One necessity, in their eyes, was education,” she says. “They knew the power of education and the endless opportunities it would bring to provide a better quality of life than they had.”
Harnessing the power of that opportunity, Dinh earned a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Boise State University in 2004, and later began a career in recruiting.
After the Great Recession, Dinh shifted direction and accepted a position with the Idaho Department of Labor as a workforce consultant, where she helped job seekers with their resumes and interview skills. She later moved into a regional business specialist role that focused on technology and workforce development.
The Idaho STEM Action Center was created in 2015, and in July 2016, the position for a computer science program manager was created. Dinh applied for the job and has been with Idaho STEM Action Center since. She loves that the STEM Action Center is able to fund pre-K through career opportunities, and that it is able to reach both formal and informal educators.
“I love that we’re able to fund many different organizations to help leverage the amazing things they are already doing to help create a STEM-skilled workforce,” Dinh says. “But my favorite part of my job is when I get to attend events or attend various programs and see the students in action. Our partners and our students are doing some really phenomenal things.”
As a mother of a 2-year-old boy, and with another child on the way, Dinh says she likes to spend her free time with her family, creating memories. She also relishes the moments when she gets to share work-related things with her son, such as robotic competitions, or trips to the Discovery Center or the Children’s Museum.
Of her many accomplishments, one of the things Dinh is most proud of is her role in helping Idaho become a national leader in computer science. Idaho became only the second state in the country to implement all of the code.org policies for computer science education.
Dinh sees providing access to computer science (CS) education as a way to allow students to turn a passion into a career.
“I want to ensure every student, regardless of gender, race, geographic location, socioeconomic status or age, can have access to a high-quality STEM/CS education,” Dinh says. “It is important to me that they have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they would like to go pursue those fields, and not let the system decide for them.”