May 31, 2023

Nguyen celebrates heritage, cultivates welcoming spaces

Photo by Jonah Tran // Andre smiles for a photo inside the Gwendolyn A. Newkirk Human Sciences Building
Jonah Tran | University Communication and Marketing

Jonah Tran | University Communication and Marketing
Andre Nguyen smiles for a photo inside the Carolyn Pope Edwards Human Sciences Building.

Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature Huskers who are making impacts on campus and look to maintain that momentum in future careers. Learn more about APIDA Heritage Month coverage in Nebraska Today.

This week, meet Andre Nguyen, a nutrition, exercise and health sciences major from Lincoln, Nebraska. Through his involvements on campus and in the community, he meets new friends, connects with his cultural heritage and cultivates welcoming spaces for others.

What drew you to your major? Is there anything you hope to do in that industry after graduation?

In high school, I really enjoyed learning from my physics teacher, so I knew going into college I could handle a lot of the science and math courses. I also knew that I wanted to be somewhere in the field of sports medicine/nutrition. For me, nutrition, exercise, and health science is the field that best encompassed all of my interests and areas of strength academically. Right now, I am on the pre-physical therapy track, but honestly, I enjoy so many different parts of this field that I am still considering many options.

Talk about your involvements on campus and how they have shaped your college experience.

The Vietnamese Student Association was the first student organization I gravitated toward as I knew a lot of people who were involved in it. Since then, VSA has been THE place for me to feel a sense of community and connection on campus. Rolling into the next semester as their secretary, I hope to create that space for others just like they did for me.

As a competitive powerlifter, Nebraska Barbell was also another student organization that I found a lot of interest in. The community at Nebraska Barbell is extremely positive and fun, so they inspire me every day to improve myself in the gym. One of my favorite memories was our Halloween practice where everyone dressed up and worked out in costumes.

Another one of my favorite campus communities that I have been lucky enough to be a part of is Asian Student Union. ASU was a little more foreign to me since I didn’t really know as many people in it when I first joined. This pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and meet a lot of new friends, and I am so appreciative of the welcoming environment that ASU provided for me.

Can you talk about your involvement with DMNV Lion Dance?

DMNV Lion Dance was a group that I joined around my sophomore year of high school, and since then it has become a big part of who I am today. As a performer and more recently an instructor for the team, I can teach, learn and practice with an incredibly fun and energetic group of people every week. For me, lion dance is a way for me to stay in touch with my cultural heritage and share it with others. It has also been a way for me to have a good time and make connections with people who share a lot of the same passions as I do. The lion dance community is rich and widespread, so it has allowed me to form new bonds with many people in and out of my team.

Last summer, you were a SHPEP Scholar in Pomona, California. Can you talk about why it is important for you to get those professional experiences while still in school?

Since I was not clear on my career path going into college, the Summer Health Professions Education Program at Western University allowed me to learn a lot about many different fields in the world of health science. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to network and learn about health professions, and it has been integral to my career exploration. I was also able to make so many memories and friendships with the people in my cohort at SHPEP, and I could not be more thankful for meeting them.

Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

No matter what career I choose, my dream is to be in a profession that I am really passionate about and can share that passion with others. Not really a lifetime goal, but I also would love to compete at USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals representing UNL. Some other goals I have include dunking a basketball, traveling the world, and reaching diamond in League of Legends.

What or who inspires you?

I think what inspires me the most right now are the friends I have made throughout my life, and especially, recently in college. The people I am lucky enough to call my friends have shaped who I am today, and they continue to push me to be a better student, athlete, and person overall. I attribute a lot of my success to my friends who have helped me along the way.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?

I would say to try as many new things as you can through the many organizations and activities available on campus. The worst thing that can happen is you not liking it and moving on, so try things out, make some new friends, and then build from those initial connections to involve yourself around campus.