Student to attend young scholars summit

‘Forbes Under 30’ selects only 1,000 from pool of applicants



WSU student Nam Nguyen says the experience he gained from studying abroad and researching would have been impossible without the support he received.

KHADIJAH BUTLER, Evergreen reporter

WSU student Nam Nguyen was one of the five percent chosen by Forbes for its young scholars summit.

The Forbes Under 30 selects 1,000 scholars to attend a four-day summit with over 10,000 attendees, including investors, entrepreneurs and speakers like Serena Williams and Kevin Durant.

Nguyen said when he first submitted his application for the Forbes Under 30 scholars, he did not immediately hear back like the rest of his peers. He assumed he was not chosen until a few weeks ago when he got his acceptance email.

He said he was born and raised in Vietnam before his family immigrated to Kent, Washington when he was 17. He is the first person in his family to graduate from high school and continue to college.

Nguyen is interning at NASA, preparing for Forbes Under 30 Scholar Summit, working as a course facilitator for WSU’s Honors College and mentoring for various groups like the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Nguyen’s resume and experience are extensive. He has presented a Tedx Talk on his experiences and ideologies he learned abroad, worked on research projects in various countries and is a part of the Harold Frank Engineering Entrepreneurship Institute. He has also completed 13 study abroad programs.

Christine Oakley, WSU director of global learning, said over 750 WSU students study abroad through the Global Learning Program. Nguyen is the first student in WSU history to study abroad on all seven continents.

All the programs he completed contributed greatly to his success and overall view of the world, she said.

“He is an extremely incredible and talented young man,” Oakley said.

She said all students can study on every continent like Nguyen. The Global Learning program has over 500 programs. Depending on a student’s major, they can have their courses pre-approved so they can be applied to their requirements, Oakley said.

Nguyen said he made sure to immerse himself in the cultures of his host countries, from volunteering at a food bank in Italy to joining exploration excursions in Antarctica.

He also learned a little German while studying in Germany, he said, so he could communicate with his host family more efficiently.

Despite his travels, Nguyen said he stayed grounded in his studies and used the surroundings of his host country to apply the knowledge he learned in his courses. Environmental science courses in Australia and business classes in Brazil and Korea allowed him to view the world with a different perspective, he said.

Nguyen has taken those experiences and applied them to his research for the McNair Scholars Program on examining what influences students to choose certain continents for abroad programs, he said.

This month, Nguyen said he was also chosen as a NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate intern to work with knowledge and information management.

He was selected to collaborate with a chief knowledge officer along with another student from Texas, he said. They will design a method to catalog and organize publications to share with researchers.

Nguyen said the experience he gained during his time abroad and researching would not have been possible without support from not just his family, but also mentors, advisers, friends, scholarship donors and resources at WSU.

Nguyen will return to Antarctica in December to continue his McNairs research project.