Where Are They Now: UCEC grad Tai Huynh makes his mark in business and politics
Three years ago, Union County Early College graduate Tai Huynh walked onto UNC Chapel Hill’s campus as a college freshman with an entrepreneurial spirit and political aspirations.
Now, as a college senior, Tai has since launched a start-up company, helped found the UNC Institute of Politics, serves on the Town of Chapel Hill’s Housing Advisory Board and has tossed his hat into the ring for the upcoming Chapel Hill Town Council election.
Check out what this Morehead-Cain Scholar and computer science major has to say about how UCPS helped him develop into the leader he is today and his plans for the future.
On his love of business and his startup company: The hustle mindset is something that my parents passed on to me, and business at its core is a hustle. It’s just something that has always been a part of me – I even got my real estate license in high school and had to hustle to sell houses. In college, I cofounded a social venture startup, where we sell software to local governments to help them make more equitable and proactive decisions with data. We’ve been doing that for about two years now. We’ve made progress and now we’re looking to pilot the software in a few cities around the state and potentially raise some money.
On why he’s also drawn to politics: Local politics has always been something that I’ve been interested in. I had a strong relationship with the mayor of Indian Trail and I was really involved with student government at South Piedmont Community College and Union County Early College. My high school career really helped shape that interest and showed me how important it is to have an impact in your local community.
On how his time in UCPS developed his leadership skills: Karen Pharr, who was my teacher at Early College, taught classes centered around leadership – what it is, different types of leadership, etc. She was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She taught me what it meant to be a leader, and that’s kind of where it all started for me. My parents instilled the duty to serve in me, but Ms. Pharr taught me how to do it. She must have seen potential in me, and then she really invested in that potential.
On his most fulfilling moment in college: When you serve on the housing board, you approve a lot of funding for affordable housing projects. You get to tour the houses as they’re built and meet the families. It’s such a fulfilling experience getting to meet these families who have homes now and knowing you had a part in that.
Advice to current UCPS students: Enjoy life while you can and make sure you spend time with the people you care about. When I look back, it’s not the Student Government things that I remember, it’s the time I spent with friends working on projects. Investing in relationships is very important.
In the future: In the future, I still see myself working on my business and helping to solve pressing issues in my community. I no longer have presidential aspirations. I want to keep my focus local because that’s where I feel like I can have the most impact.