GG resident earns college honors

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 Three Vietnamese-American students from Orange County – including one from Garden Grove and one from Westminster – are among the nine California State University, Long Beach students who will be recognized as the “2013 Outstanding Graduates” this week at Commencement 2013, a collection of nine graduation ceremonies at the Long Beach campus today, Thursday and Friday, May 22-24.

 Three Vietnamese-American students from Orange County – including one from Garden Grove and one from Westminster – are among the nine California State University, Long Beach students who will be recognized as the “2013 Outstanding Graduates” this week at Commencement 2013, a collection of nine graduation ceremonies at the Long Beach campus today, Thursday and Friday, May 22-24.

Van Nguyen of Garden Grove, Tuyen Ngoc Tran of Westminster and Yen Thao Mai of Santa Ana will be honored as the outstanding graduates of their respective college ceremonies, which take place on the campus’ central quadrangle.  All three students were born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam.

Each CSULB college selects student honorees (with two being selected from the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Health and Human Services) based on nominations solicited from faculty, staff and other students.  Honorees must earn a 3.5 grade-point average or above and demonstrate service and dedication to CSULB and to the community.

Nguyen will be recognized during CSULB’s College of Health and Human Services ceremony today, beginning at 1 p.m. in the campus’ central quadrangle. She is graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in health care administration.

“I am proud to be a CSULB graduate,” Nguyen said.  “During my time at CSULB, I have learned to be realistic, to have practical solutions for all problems, to address multiple perspectives when considering any issue and to contribute my knowledge and skills to the community.”

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Nguyen immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 18 years old.  With a cumulative 3.94 and a 4.0 in her major, she has the highest grade point average in the undergraduate Health Care Administration Program and has earned placement on the President’s List since fall 2011.

Currently, Nguyen works as a finance coordinator for COPE Health Solutions.  She is planning to continue her education and obtain a master’s degree in health care administration, pass the certified management accountant exam and eventually become a finance/business director in a hospital.

Tran will be recognized during the College of Natural Science and Mathematics commencement ceremony on Friday, May 24, beginning at 1 p.m.  He is graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in biochemistry with a minor in biology.

A family tragedy influenced his choice of major. 

“My father died from liver cancer and I am determined to join the fight against this disease,” Tran said.  “My contribution to this fight will come too late to help my father, but I take solace in knowing that I will someday have the opportunity to help save the life of another’s parent, child, sibling and friend.”

He selected CSULB because of its many student support and service programs. 

“Furthermore, CSULB provides many paid research opportunities for undergraduate students who are interested in conducting research with a professor,” he said. 

In the laboratory of Professor Vasanthy Narayanaswami, he studied apolipoproteins, which are involved in transporting lipids (fats) and in controlling cholesterol, among other functions.

“Dr. Vas’ enthusiasm for pursuing research, and teaching her students to conduct real-world research with her in studying apolipoproteins, increased my engagement in both my academic studies and undergraduate research.  She has not only taught me how to conduct research independently but also helped me to hone my leadership skills,” said a beaming Tran.

Tran transferred to CSULB from Golden West College in Huntington Beach, where he earned his A.A. degree in biology and received merit scholarships and awards for outstanding science work.  His next stop is to earn a master of science degree in biochemistry at CSULB before applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs where he’ll pursue his goal of becoming a physician and medical researcher.

Mai will be recognized during the College of Liberal Arts graduation exercises on Thursday, May 23, beginning at 1 p.m. in the campus’ central quadrangle.  She is graduating with a bachelor’s of arts degree in sociology.

Mai’s scholarship is directed at making a difference in the world, and she is passionate about conducting research to address social problems.  Mai, who traveled alone to the United States when she was 16 years old, holds a 4.0 GPA.  She was the only undergraduate invited to take the fall 2012 graduate level seminar, “Poverty and Public Policy,” for which she undertook a research project comparing anti-poverty policies and ideologies between the U.S. and Vietnam.

Mai is a member of the Sociology Honors Program, Golden Key International Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Gamma Sigma, and has appeared on the President’s List since August 2010.  For 2012-13, she was the Sociology Student Association treasurer.  In January, she became a Department of Sociology teaching assistant.

In the community, she mentors and tutors children at the American Family Housing Shelter for the Homeless and tutored sociology students at Orange Coast College in 2011-12.  One of her greatest passions is music, having played the piano since she was 6, and she used her talents at an Orange County nursing home through the Reaching-Out Foundation from 2009-12.  At present, she is a member of the Chamber Singers, performing choral music in OCC’s Robert Moore Theater. She also writes stories, poems and journal articles.

Upon graduation, Mai will pursue a Ph.D. in sociology and an academic career.

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