Saying that Anna Nguyen ’22 is tapped into campus tradition is an understatement. Given that she has written her thesis on the historical past of the University, served as President of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) for the 2021-22 educational 12 months, labored in Olin Memorial Library for 4 years, acquired awarded each a Freeman and a Schwarzman scholarship, and, unsurprisingly, listened to “Hamilton,” it’s clear that the University has had nice impression on Nguyen, and vice versa. As her final semester attracts to a shut, Nguyen took a break from writing her concluding speech to the WSA to speak with The Argus about her time on the University and the place she hopes to go as a graduate.
The Argus: Why do you assume you had been chosen to be a WesCeleb?
Anna Nguyen: I don’t know. I do know a lot of individuals on campus, and I maintain forgetting I’m the WSA president.
A: You talked about your work on the WSA. Can you clarify a little bit extra about that?
AN: I joined the WSA my sophomore 12 months and was appointed a member of the Community Committee. I used to be simply going to remain there for one semester, and then COVID occurred, so I used to be like, “Oh God, I’ve to do a lot of shit.” I used to be actually busy doing a lot of labor when it comes to scholar advocacy throughout that spring semester of COVID, and then I made a decision to remain on. The following 12 months, my junior 12 months, I used to be elected to be the Student Life Committee Chair, which was something to do with COVID and scholar life.
After that, I spotted that I wished to do extra normal tradition issues inside the WSA when it comes to management and administration, so I ran for WSA president. It was a fairly historic ticket. I used to be working with Arianna Baez [’22], and I don’t assume we ever had a world scholar or a feminine [first-generation], low-income worldwide scholar turn out to be WSA president earlier than, so I knew what I used to be making an attempt to do when it comes to exhibiting that that’s attainable.
A: How has the WSA modified because you joined, particularly relating to COVID-19?
AN: I feel the scholar physique is beginning to understand that the WSA performs a larger function in a lot of issues than all of us thought. That first spring semester, when COVID occurred, we distributed a lot cash from our price range, and folks realized, “Oh, the WSA has a lot of cash.” We cost you $300 yearly, and we’ve got a $1 million price range yearly to handle.
We additionally talked a lot with the directors. Every week, I met with the VPs, and each month I meet with President Roth [’78], with different people who find themselves within the management of the WSA. The Board of Trustees is one other factor that we do with. [We make] positive that they know what’s going on and not simply the rosy issues that the administration is presenting each November, February, and May.
A: What is one factor, or a collection of issues, that you’re most happy with with respect to your time within the WSA?
AN: I consider two issues. One is that I’m very diplomatic, so once I work with the directors, I do get very annoyed typically, and having the ability to study to just be sure you present how dedicated you might be to your function and how passionate you might be about points that college students are going through, whereas additionally sustaining a good relationship with them [is important]. Being capable of discover ways to symbolize the scholars whereas additionally pushing the directors with out burning bridges, that’s one factor that’s actually essential to me.
The different factor that’s equally essential is mentoring folks inside the WSA. If I go away and the WSA is in dangerous fingers subsequent 12 months, then that’s in all probability my fault that I did not ensure that there are individuals who have sufficient institutional reminiscence and talent to cope with totally different companions on campus.
A: Would you want to talk to the teachers you’ve got been concerned in at Wesleyan?
AN: I joined the CSS sophomore 12 months. I got here to Wesleyan due to CSS and the Freeman Scholarship. They gave me a full experience. I am going the place the cash goes. My journey has been very particular due to CSS and the way it’s structured.
My work on the WSA additionally impressed my thesis. I wrote my thesis on the historical past of Wesleyan. I used to be like, “I’m not proud of how this establishment is working,” so I wished to have the ability to criticize it and know what I’m speaking about. I traced all of it again to Victor Butterfield. He was a good man, a superb president, however the issues that occurred after he retired as President formed the way in which that we’re proper now.
A: How was that means of writing your thesis?
AN: It was an mental undertaking, but it surely was a extra private quest, as a result of I haven’t left Wesleyan for 4 years. I got here to Wesleyan from Vietnam in 2018. I’ve not come again house. My dad and mom haven’t seen me for 4 years. When you’ve stayed at a place for thus lengthy, it does turn out to be your house, even in the event you don’t need it to, and I feel that there are folks at Wesleyan who’ve had extra religion in me than I ever did.
Wesleyan historical past is a part of my historical past, so it was very private. It was actually irritating to study that we had been higher, we may very well be higher, we’ve got been higher, we’ve got been in a position to do this earlier than, but we’re probably not doing it now.
We college students used to make use of chalk and then write on the sidewalks no matter we expect. It has shock worth. It’s very Wesleyan and quirky. In the Butterfield tunnels, which we don’t even have entry to, as soon as upon a time college students had entry and may paint murals. But Douglas Bennet got here in and mentioned, “We are too bizarre,” so he banned the chalking and he painted over the tunnels.
A: Have any lessons or professors that actually formed your Wesleyan expertise?
AN: Alice Hadler was the [Senior Associate] Director of the [Fries Center for Global Studies]. She was a Freeman advisor. She learn by way of each single certainly one of my CSS essays throughout sophomore 12 months.
And then [Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Emeritus] Richie Adelstein. He additionally suggested my thesis. I simply love the person. He’s like an advisor and a mentor, a good friend, but in addition a grandfather.
[Library Assistant V/Circulation and CTW] Randy Wilson. I walked into Olin in the course of the summer time. I used to be like, “Can you give me a job within the library,” as a result of if you wish to work on campus, the library is the very best job. He was so amazed by my British accent that he simply gave me the job.
A: Is there anything that you just’re concerned with on campus?
AN: I used to be a House Manager for ResLife. I used to be a [Residential Advisor] and then this 12 months, I’m a head resident. I handle a employees of about 20 individuals who work in Program Houses on the east facet of campus.
A: How do you handle your time?
AN: There are issues that I like a lot about Wesleyan and there are issues that I want Wesleyan may very well be higher at. I see that sentiment round campus as nicely, however a lot of those folks don’t do something about it. It’s this bystander impact: you assume that somebody would do one thing about it, but it surely won’t be you. Instead of doing that, I push myself a bit additional and say, “If I don’t do it, I don’t know who else will.” I, as a person, can’t change it, but when I become involved and meet and mentor totally different folks, that’s the way you create that domino impact as an alternative of the bystander impact.
That’s why I’m concerned in so many various issues on campus. That comes from a sense of loyalty to the establishment. The undeniable fact that I virtually didn’t go to school, however went to school due to the Freeman Scholarship at Wesleyan, Wesleyan selected to place confidence in me, so I’ll select [to have] religion in Wesleyan.
That’s what I discuss in my thesis. We was a very self-critical place. We was a very cross-collaborative house and neighborhood, and someway that died out. To be in a liberal arts training doesn’t imply that you just glide. You problem issues.
A: What recommendation would you give for the incoming, future, or potential college students?
AN: The very first thing I inform them is that this place will not be good, it would by no means be, however that’s the fantastic thing about it. You are available in and you’ve got that energy to form one thing and you possibly can study to do this with different folks. I don’t really feel like you must have an idealized school expertise—to exit and celebration, to have a very large group of mates. Do it your individual method. Actually do the “liberal arts training” strategy. Don’t give in to disciplines. Explore throughout the board. It [takes] interdisciplinary lessons to see what you might be actually concerned about. Make positive you discover one or two college members who you possibly can sort of be mates with. That relationship between college and college students is simply as essential as having mates outdoors the classroom.
A: If you had been to choose three songs that outline you, what would they be?
AN: My head goes straight to “Hamilton.” “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile—I all the time come again to that track. “The Times They Are a-Changin.’” I really feel like I ought to do an Adele track: “I Drink Wine” is a superb track for me. “Hold On” is a very shut second for Adele. I feel each school scholar ought to hearken to it as soon as in a whereas. [After the interview, Nguyen said that “Vienna” by Billy Joel belongs on her top 3 list, making the two Adele songs honorable mentions].
A: As this semester is coming to a shut, what’s on the horizon for you?
AN: I’m going again house for 2 months. I haven’t talked about that I’ve two youthful brothers. One is 10, the opposite is 12. I’ve missed 4 years of their childhood, so I’m actually excited to see them once more.
I additionally stay up for being in China. My dad and mom name me a “floating vegetable.” I’ve been to England, America, China, Vietnam, and going again to China this time. I like floating round, so so long as I can maintain doing that, that’s what I’m going to stay up for in my life.
This interview has been edited for size and readability.
Oliver Cope may be reached at [email protected]