Pham remembers her first, painful attempts to help customers at Freddy's.

"I was seriously shaking when I had to take an order or talk to strangers," she said. "Now it comes naturally."

That fits in with Freddy's philosophy of getting to know its customers. And Pham does it well enough to have been named general manager of the Freddy's location on Rock Road.

Born and raised in Wichita, Pham, 23, started working at the fast-growing chain while attending Wichita Heights High School.

"They worked pretty well with my schedule while I was in high school, and definitely while I was in college," said Pham, who attended Wichita State University.

Pham was promoted to supervisor, then assistant manager. She said the job didn't interfere with her studies.

"I like working hard," she said. "It was a fun atmosphere to work in. It took my mind off school, too."

Because her predecessor trained her, serving as general manager hasn't been too much of an adjustment.

"I have more responsibilities now," she said. "It's a much bigger picture. I do more financials and payroll."

Pham graduated from WSU with a chemistry degree last year.

"My ultimate goal is to get into dental school," she said. "I'll probably stay with Freddy's for a while, but that's still in the back of my mind."

Working and school doesn't leave much free time. Right now, Pham is spending what she has planning her marriage to Alex Kent, whom she has known since kindergarten (and who works at a different Freddy's).

Pham figures the communication skills she has learned at Freddy's will help her whatever career path she follows.

"Was I shy? I'm still shy, but it's opened me up quite a bit," she said.