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Student News Brief

Luu wins Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship

MIT graduate will enroll in Harvard MS/MBA program in the fall

Trang Luu

Trang Luu (Credit: Trang Luu)

Trang Luu discovered a passion for building when she attended an engineering camp at MIT as a high school student.

“We built a speaker from scratch,” she said. “While building the speaker, I had a bubbling excitement in my stomach, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.” 

Luu and her family moved from Vietnam to Houston when she was 3. Coming from an immigrant family, Luu had to get creative to navigate the American school system and life in America. She learned how to find the right mentors and ask the right questions. 

“The hardest part was figuring out what I don’t know I don’t know,” Luu said. “Even as a kid, I wanted to take on as much as I could to help reduce the burden on my parents.”

Luu was recently awarded a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a 23-year-old program that financially supports immigrants and children of immigrants as they pursue graduate studies. She will enroll in the MS/MBA program run jointly by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Harvard Business School in the fall. 

“What really got me excited was that during the interview process, I was able to interact with the other interviewees, judges, and Fellowship program people,” Luu said. “One of my favorite memories was in the virtual waiting room before the interview started. Even though we were all competing, everyone joined a mini-meditation session I led to de-stress a bit before our interviews. I’m excited to get to know more fellows.” 

A love for building things led Luu back to MIT, where she received both undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. Luu completed her graduate thesis in the MIT D-Lab, as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her other projects included adaptive socket liners for amputees, a walking stick adapter for wheelchairs, and a stove design from discarded oil drums for street food vendors. 

She kept building after graduating in 2020, but this time it was a start-up. She co-founded Encora Therapeutics, which produces wearable wristbands to help reduce hand tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor.

Luu wanted to complement her technical skills with a business education, which brought her to the MS/MBA program. Through innovating as an entrepreneur, Luu hopes to drive a large-scale positive impact on society.

“I want to be the person that has the language to understand and innovate new technical products, but also have the ability to commercialize and scale up new innovations,” Luu said. “I realized that just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it’s going to help a lot of people. Having that necessary business background will really help me accomplish that greater mission.”

Luu credited her achievements to her parents’ hard work and sacrifice. She draws particular inspiration from a piece of advice from her mother: “Before you can change the world, you must first do your dishes, fold your laundry, and clean your room.” Her other mentors include Joanne Bradley, a teacher at her high school who became her “American mom,” someone she could go to for advice on everything from socializing to the college application process.

Luu is the fifth SEAS student to be named a Soros Fellow. Pelkins Ajanoh was part of the Fellows Class of 2020 and is currently in his second year in the MS/MBA program.

Press Contact

Matt Goisman | mgoisman@g.harvard.edu