Nam Nguyen contributed to the community; he is the first student to study on all seven continents
Nam Nguyen, a WSU alumnus in the Class of 2020, won this year’s award Diana Award.
The award is given to people between the ages of 9 and 25 who have taken an active role in community service, Nguyen said. Established in memory of Princess Diana, it globally recognizes people who serve their communities and create change.
“Any contribution would make the world a better place. The biggest problem we have is humanity, so bringing an act of kindness into the world is a positive thing,” Nguyen said. “The definition of success shouldn’t be a title or money or the house they own, but helping others should be the definition of success.”
Nguyen said he was very proud of his efforts to address mental health issues and provide more than 100 hours of community service.
Nguyen said his love of public service was inspired in part by his immigration to the United States in 2013, when he was 15.
“I am Vietnamese-American. I moved here with hardly any English,” he said. “I received tremendous support from various people, organizations and friends. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. It really helped spark my interest in helping and serving the community.
Nguyen chose WSU because he received scholarships and loved the university’s community and alumni network. He thinks WSU has had a big impact on his life and he feels his support system has been gratifying, he said.
Besides winning the Diana Award, Nguyen is also the first WSU student to study abroad on all seven continents, he said.
“There is so much to teach you and so much to expose to you. I thought, why not continue this study abroad trip and become the first student to study abroad on all seven continents,” he said.
Someone who was a big help to Nguyen during his time at WSU was retired associate clinical professor Dr. Christine Oakley, he said. She helped coordinate his trip to other continents.
“That’s another great thing about WSU, the support. Everyone listens to your dreams and wants to support you,” Nguyen said. “Throughout this journey, I have continued to speak with departments and apply for scholarships.”
Oakley nominated Nguyen for this year’s Diana Award. She thought he would be a great candidate for the award because he does the type of charity work that Princess Diana has done, she said.
“He finally got this particular award that really shows how America’s youth can do such important work,” Oakley said.
Oakley said she met Nguyen through the Global Learning department around 2012-2013, when she was its director. She said he had a dynamic presence when working with international students.
Since Oakley has known him, Nguyen has always been interested in volunteering and community service, but has established himself as a more outgoing person, she said.
“When I first met him, I would describe him as very shy. The only word I would use for him was genuine,” Oakley said. “Everything he pursued was genuine.”
Oakley was proud of her ambitious decision to study abroad on all seven continents and felt it was a great opportunity to test her limits, she said.
“I think he would agree that he really pushed himself out of his comfort zone,” she said. “When you’re in a country whose language you don’t know and it’s not with a program that puts its arms around you, it has this real fearless adventure.”
Although the two have separated, they remain in close contact with each other via email.
“I see us as kind of lifelong friends and we’ll support each other in any way we can, so I think we have kind of a caring relationship,” Oakley said.
Nguyen said he recommends all interested students to study abroad as it is a hands-on educational experience.
Currently, Nguyen is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, and he works in the energy industry for an oil company that is interested in climate change activism, he said. declared. He wants to “climb the ladder” in the private sector and help make the energy industry more climate-friendly.
Nguyen said he hopes he can inspire people to participate in community service and make a difference for the people around them.