[Alumni Throwback] Michelle Nguyen

Tell us about a favourite memory working with UVSA/VSA.

My favourite memory working with UVSA was executing UVSA Ontario’s leadership summit last year. Although it was one of the most stressful events we’ve had to organize, it was also the most rewarding event because of all the new friendships and connections, and interest in the organization, that continued to develop, long after summit ended. Not only did that event teach me what teamwork truly meant, it also allowed us to carry out most of UVSA’s pillars.

What is the greatest lesson/accomplishment you learned during your time with the association?

While reflecting on my past two years on the UVSA e-board, Maya Angelou’s quote about an individual’s impact on others resonated with me: “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” As important as it is to successfully organize events, fund-for philanthropic causes, and promote Vietnamese culture, to be an astute and influential leader in our community, it is even more significant for you to invest in the relationships and networks you build with your team, VSA, alumni, and community members. In that way, the greatest lesson I learned and am continuing to master is that, we must always treat one another with respect, empathy, and humility. To build our community and reach our collective goals, we must remember and actively practice lifting each other up and calling everyone in. Voluntary work can take a toll on you mentally and physically so we should be kind to the people we work with and the people we work for.

How has the association helped you become the person you are today?

Before joining UVSA, I was very timid and wasn’t confident with social networking. Growing up in a small, predominantly white city, I didn’t have many Vietnamese friends who shared a common understanding of our upbringing as children of refugees or a desire to understand more about my Vietnamese cultural identity. My experience on UVSA taught me to seek more connections outside my close group of friends and take more leaps of faith in my academic and professional lives. I learned how to balance work and play and became less anxious about my future as I realized that I had a strong and supportive group of peers that I could rely on to share my burdens, offer advice, and help me grow.

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