Larger than Life

Kenny Phin break dances at his home in Long Beach, California.

One student combats personal struggle with an enviable outlook on life and a desire to forge connections wherever he goes.

Kenny is shown mid-work out, on a blue yoga mat, surrounded by weights.

It’s hard to ignore third-year Healthcare Administration major Kenny Phin. He might first be noticed for his small stature, but his vibrant personality and desire to help others quickly overpower all other first impressions.

A toddler-aged Kenny playing on swing at a park in the sun.

Kenny’s childhood was spent in and out of the hospital. Numerous surgeries led to feelings of isolation, but he came out of the experience with a powerful desire to live his life as fully as possible.

Kenny has built a wide-reaching community of friends on all corners of campus, and it is those deep friendships and his love of his family that inspire him.

Kenny and his four friends from the Cambodian Student Association.

Kenny isn't afraid to ask for assistance when he needs it. From time to time Kenny utilizes the services that Disabled Student Services provides. He mainly visits the office to speak to advisors, take tests and apply for scholarships.

Kenny’s connection to campus expands beyond simply classes and homework. Outside of the classroom you can find him volunteering or paddle boarding with his fraternity Zeta Mu Beta, serving as an officer in the Cambodian Student Society, busting a move with the CSULB Breakers breakdancing club or performing spoken word poetry at special events.

Kenny, his mom and his brother and sister smile for a portrait in their home.

As much as Kenny finds support from others, he provides that same unconditional love and support to his family. For many years, it’s been just Kenny, his mom and his siblings, and Kenny goes out of his way to take the weight off of his mom’s shoulders when he can.

His sister Emily prepares for her day as Kenny looks on.

His typical day starts after his mom leaves for work before dawn. His 9-year-old sister Emily usually wakes him up, excited to get to school or dance class and not too concerned about waiting until the 7:30 a.m. departure time Kenny tries to remind her of. After cooking breakfast, dropping Emily off, and delivering his brother to high school, Kenny heads off to starting his studies or work.

Kenny preparing breakfast for himself and his siblings.

Kenny’s mom, Phear Jenkins, credits him with taking on more than typical college students, but never complaining. As a single parent, she feels stretched thin, but looks to Kenny with admiration and appreciation for the effort he makes to keep their family connected and together.

Emily gets a piggy back ride from Kenny after finishing her dance class.

“I can’t be at different places all at once, so he’s been great. He helps me more than anyone else, Kenny is very positive, he’s very outgoing. He just cares for the world and it amazes me.” — Phear Jenkins

Kenny doing squats in the afternoon sun in his back yard.

Despite his own challenges and taking on big responsibilities at home, Kenny exudes energy and optimism. His positivity extends to his general outlook and how he views himself and the challenges that come his way.

So far, he’s accomplished a lot.

Between all his extracurricular activities, school work and family responsibilities, Kenny spent the summer between high school and college as a Kaiser Permanente Summer Youth Employment Program intern.

That internship opened his eyes to the world of Healthcare Administration and he is now determined to pursue a career in health with the hopes of helping others.