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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Nancy Nguyen ('19) Nancy Nguyen ('19)

Ripple Effect

Through the support received while enrolled in the Weber Honors College, SDSU alumna Nancy Nguyen was able to find the support she needed to succeed.
By Lainie Fraser

“Being able to have mentors and peers who were able to guide and support me was really important throughout my undergrad experience.”

When Nancy Nguyen ('19) enrolled at San Diego State University, she was confronted with a challenge. As a low-income, first-generation college student with immigrant parents, Nguyen found it exceedingly difficult to adjust to college life.

After completing her freshman year, Nguyen applied to join the Weber Honors College, something friends and mentors felt she would benefit from. Looking back on it now, Nguyen says it is something she wishes she did sooner.

Through the Honors College, Nguyen found the support she needed to truly embrace all SDSU and the college experience had to offer. 

“Being able to have mentors and peers who were able to guide and support me was really important throughout my undergrad experience,” said Nguyen.

She also credits the Honors College and the mentorship she received with lighting the way for a career in social justice and public policy, which she says she may not have originally had access to. Now, more than a year out of college, she feels it is fulfilling and where she wants to be. 

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After graduating in 2019 with a degree in sociology and a minor in public administration, Nguyen was selected as a Princeton in Asia Fellow, where she was placed in a university in Thailand to teach humanities and social sciences. Now, she works as a civic engagement organizer for the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, a research, public policy, and community organizing hub dedicated to building power within the refugee community. 

Nguyen has also served as a protection intern for Action Africa Help in a Ugandan refugee settlement, legislative intern for Assembly Member Shirley Weber in San Diego and Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies intern for Senator Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C.

“I deeply value the mentorship I got from the Weber Honors College,” said Nguyen. “Once I voiced my interest in policy work and social justice, the staff began sharing opportunities and opened up doors for me that I would not have had access to otherwise. The network and the mentorship you get at the Weber Honors College will transform your experience at SDSU, as it did for me.”

Nguyen describes the Weber Honors College as “a family that wants to see you thrive in all aspects of your life, emotionally, academically and professionally."

"They invest in you without ever asking for anything in return. It is an incredibly selfless group of people,” said Nguyen. “This goes for the staff and also the cohort of other students.”

Through her experiences at SDSU, with mentors in the Weber Honors College and her profession, Nguyen says she has learned a lot about the “power” of people.

“Power really rests within everyday people,” said Nguyen. “When I was introduced to policy work, I had this preconceived idea of what power looked and felt like and who had access to power. Through my time working with historically disadvantaged people domestically and internationally, I have learned that power really does lie in everyday people and especially in youth.”

She now encourages everyone to participate in the Weber Honors College or programs like it. It is something she says SDSU does very well.

“The Weber Honors College allows for a thoughtful reflective process for you to think about where you come from and where you want to go,” Nguyen said. “The Honors College has developed a student-based framework that is accessible and welcoming for people that may not have an existing network of people in the fields they are interested in pursuing.”

“I believe that SDSU has developed a strong infrastructure to help students with disadvantaged backgrounds navigate higher education and fully grow into themselves, which I don’t think I would have been able to get anywhere else.”