Huong Nguyen ‘14 chose to enroll at Washington & Jefferson College because it seemed like a place where she could make a difference.
That is why, after learning about the College’s Leadership and Service Institute, the ambitious 18-year-old jumped at the chance to apply. Enthusiastic to get a head start on honing her leadership skills, Nguyen arrived at W&J a couple of weeks before classes started to get to know members of the campus community and connect with like-minded classmates.
“When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to be more involved in college but didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Nguyen, who became inspired after meeting representatives from local volunteer organizations. “The program really opened doors for me at W&J.”
She found her calling. Nguyen made the most of her opportunities at W&J and is now looking to make higher education her career.
“My long term goal is to become a dean of students, working towards increasing accessibility and retention of underrepresented domestic and international students,” Nguyen said. “Moreover, I hope to continue to travel! I want to travel to all seven continents and at least 100 countries during my lifetime. My career aspirations and my passions for women’s rights and travel go hand in hand. I hope to integrate all of my interests into my career.”
While a student at W&J, Nguyen gave a presentation at the American Association of University women Pennsylvania Convention on her experience as an AAUW National Student Advisory Council (SAC) member. The panel was on student perspectives.
She also interned at Ohio State University as part of the Mentorship Initiative for Student Life program. Immersed in the holistic experience of student affairs, she was introduced to the cohort model, living and learning with nine other undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in student affairs in higher education.
“We were all placed in various offices within the student life department, and I was assigned to the office of the vice president in the office of student conduct, for which I was grateful. During my internship, I sat in on preliminary meetings and hearings with people involved in cases. There were many hands-on experiences that I took part in, but I read articles to familiarize myself with the code of student conduct and policies relating to sexual misconduct,” she said.
She oversaw her own research project that sought to improve the comprehension of conduct policies in relation to consent within the international student populations. While assigned to a specific department, Nguyen was encouraged to explore other areas nested under the student life and academic affairs umbrella, such as the office of international affairs, off-campus and commuter student engagement, and residence life. This experience, she said, allowed her to foster a network of professionals and mentors, understand the vast opportunities that the field of higher education has to offer, and gain confidence in my ability as a young professional.
Another internship took her to the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) as the student involvement coordinator, where she assisted the office for student involvement with programming for the 2014-15 academic year and first-year orientation, presenting information on campus life and co-curricular involvement to potential students, assisting with student leader training and transition, and other tasks involving research.
“The student population is completely different compared to other institutions that I’ve been exposed to. The student population is predominately Latino/Latina, and I was eager to learn more about the structure of the institution and how UTPA supports their students,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen is currently enrolled in the higher education and student affairs program at the University of Connecticut, where she is pursuing a master’s degree and assistantship in in the Women’s Center.
“This is a new graduate assistant (GA) position, so my learning outcomes are pretty flexible to my needs,” Nguyen said.