Nam Nguyen is in his third year of studies at Washington State University, where he is pursuing a double major in chemistry and international business, and maintains a 3.74 GPA. His next study abroad experience as a WSU student will take him to Argentina and Antarctica.
Hometown: Kent, Washington. Graduate of Kentridge High School (2015)
What scholarships have you received at WSU?
I have received several scholarships during my time studying at WSU, including: Crimson Opportunity Scholarship, Multicultural Opportunity Scholarship, Alumni Leadership Scholarship, Education Abroad Endowment, Cougars of The Desert Scholarship, Leff Family Honors Scholarship, Mark and Laura Hansen International Scholarship, Marie Baarslag Brown Wright Study Abroad Scholarship, Nancy Robertson Scholarship, Merly M. Mayo Scholarship in Business, and Edwin Hart Chemistry Scholarship.
Student Ambassador, College of Arts and Sciences, WSU
Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, WSU
Young Ambassador, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) North America (USA & Canada)
How have scholarships made a difference for your family?
These scholarships have made an enormous difference for my family. After immigrating to America, we were often destitute, experiencing homelessness on occasion and eating expired bread to survive. There is no way they could have afforded my education without the help these scholarships offered. Thanks to the assistance I have received, I was able to pursue my dreams in higher education. My mother taught me from a young age that no schooling would ever be harder than the poverty we endured daily, and that if I could work my way through it, there’s no school I couldn’t be successful at. I’m proud now to say she was right, and I’m thankful in the extreme for the opportunity all of the donors to my scholarships have provided me. These are the people who have made my and my family’s dream come true.
How have scholarships made a difference in your life?
For me as a student, my scholarships were the lifeline that allowed me to truly immerse myself in my studies, the university experience, and American culture. When I first moved to this country, I could barely speak English. I couldn’t even ask the flight attendant on the plane for a glass of water. This presented me with seemingly insurmountable hurdles to succeed in my education. Thanks to these scholarships, I was able to afford my education without needing to work full-time. I was able to learn English in my spare time instead of earning money for school. I was given the motivation and the drive to succeed in part due to the sense of responsibility these scholarships instilled in me. Moving forward, I now have the dream of one day being able to give back, to serve a community greater than myself in the same way as the people whose donations to scholarships so greatly served me.
Of all the places in the world to study abroad, why did you choose Argentina?
I first and foremost chose Argentina for my study abroad program because I recognize it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only will I be able to visit Argentina, a country I have always been personally and academically interested in, but we will also have the opportunity to travel to Drake Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula from Ushuaia, Argentina. This is something I will likely never have another chance to do in my life, so I am very keen to do whatever is necessary to ensure my inclusion in the experience. I am excited both to visit Argentina and Antarctica. Argentina because it is a window for me into Latin America, which is a rich and vibrant culture that I still have not had the pleasure of experiencing.
I have already been fortunate enough to pursue a number of study abroad programs, with others upcoming, culminating in the possibility for me to be the first student from WSU to ever have studied on all seven continents. This trip represents a huge step forward for me in achieving this goal, as it will allow me to perform my studies in both Antarctica and South America. After another study abroad program in January, during which I will travel to Legon, Ghana, I will have completed this goal and become the first undergraduate student at WSU ever to have done so.
What university will you be attending in Argentina?
I will not be working directly through a university in Argentina. Rather, I will be working as part of a unique research group out of Ushuaia, Argentina. This group will consist of faculty, researchers, and other students from across the United States. The program is associated between three U.S. universities: College of Brockport, SUNY (State University of New York); Virginia Tech; and Ohio State. Additional collaborators include three partners in New Zealand: American Universities International Programs (AUIP), University of Canterbury, and Gateway Antarctica: Centre for Antarctic Studies and Research.
What will you be studying in Antarctica? What do you hope to accomplish?
There are two components to the study abroad program I will be embarking upon: an online component and an on-site component. Online, there is a course that all attending students will be enrolled in for the fall semester. This includes weekly webinar lectures, a midterm assignment, a final essay assignment, regular reflection essays, and an independent research project. The contents of the lecture are varied among cultural and geographical studies of the region where we will be staying (Ushuaia) as well as a history of Antarctic exploration and an overview of Antarctic marine ecosystems, birds, geology, terrestrial ecosystems, glaciology, environmental management, and the psychology of being there.
The on-site portion of the study will take place during the winter break (December 15-30, 2017) and will begin with us flying to Argentina. Once there, we will choose a field module most relevant to our interests. Field modules are in-depth group projects studying field observations in Antarctica and Ushuaia. We will be keeping a journal for the duration of the module and will be required to develop a research synthesis related to our work. Once we return to the US, a multimedia project will also be required.
Through this program, I intend to hone an interdisciplinary understanding of life in Argentina and Antarctica. Both the Argentine culture and history are interesting to me, and I hope to learn about them in addition to what I will learn from my research there. After completing the field course in Antarctica, I hope also to have gained a much deeper and more critical insight into the issues surrounding Antarctic research and exploration, including those surrounding sustainable tourism, conservation, and resource exploitation.
More about your background and family:
I am originally from Dong Nai, Vietnam, where I was born and raised. I moved to the United States with my family when I was 16, and we now live in Kent, Washington. I have two sisters and one brother, and I’m the youngest child in my family. I am the first university student in my entire family. None of my parents or siblings have graduated high school.
During my research into which university to attend, I found that WSU had the widest range of courses and study disciplines to choose from. They also had more school spirit than any other university I came across, convincing me that they would offer me the best environment to grow and pursue my professional goals. Studying at WSU provides me with the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research with top nationally and internationally recognized researchers and faculty. I feel that at WSU I am with my second family, and I know that even after I graduate, this family will always be with me. I look forward to being a member of the extensive alumni network that already exists and will always be keeping an eye out for my fellow Cougs.
Something people might not know about me:
- By March 2018, I will become the first WSU student in its 127-year history to have pursued my education abroad on all seven continents.
- At the age of 20, I published my first book, “Maintain your health in college years.” I believe that this book will become a great guideline for students to use to help maintain their health during their college years without inhibiting their enjoyment of college life.
- As an international education enthusiast, I am also working on my second book about studying abroad. It is expected to be published in Fall 2018 after I hit the milestone of studying on all seven continents through study abroad programs.
- Coming to the United States as an immigrant and having received so much help and support upon my arrival, I always try to help and support the community around me through volunteer and charitable activities. In 2016, I was honored to receive a pin, medal, and certificate from President Barack Obama, accompanied with a thank you letter for my great contribution to the community.
When I need a break from my academics…:
I am an art lover. My favorite hobbies are drawing, painting, photography, poetry, and sometimes songwriting. Whenever I immerse myself in art, I find myself. I love to read and write as well.