I had the pleasure and honor to share my Villanova story at Amitted Students Day today.
Good morning VSB Class of 2027!
I am Tee Nguyen, a senior, majoring in Management information systems and Business Analytics. I want to welcome you to the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding time of your lives. And as someone who has been in your shoes, I must admit that I am a little jealous. You have four years of discovery, growth, and adventure ahead of you.
Let me tell you about some of my first adventures. It was a chilly evening of September, and I felt a little lazy to walk from Bartley back to my dorm on South Campus. Then, I saw a shuttle approaching. I was so happy that I can finally try out the shuttle service that everyone said is a lifesaver. You know in the cartoon when the eyes pop out and have stars on it? That was me. I was really happy. I hop on and the shuttle started moving, passed the traffic lights, passed the campus, and eventually stopped at McDonald’s. Wait a minute… that’s definitely not my dorm on South Campus [PAUSE]. Now I think we all know where the story goes, right? [PAUSE] I was on an off-campus shuttle, while I supposed to take an on-campus one instead. [PAUSE] What I thought would save me 5 minutes of walking, turned out to be a 20-minute adventure.
But that’s the beauty of college, isn’t it? You can try new things, even if they end up being a bit of a disaster. So go ahead join that weird club, take that night class, start a petition, go abroad. You never know where it might lead you. I can honestly say that coming to Villanova was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the past few years, I’ve studied abroad and interned in Singapore, done service trips every year, win 2 championships in case competitions, been a part of Special Olympics, and make lifelong friendships – those friends that I want to invite to my wedding (if I decide to have one).
But as I was going through an impressive transformation, I also must constantly remind myself that I should blend in, but not dissolve to fit in. At first, I really struggle with this because I am Vietnamese, I was born in Vietnam and I spent all my life in Vietnam before I went to Villanova for college. I remember being embarrassed when my friends noticed that I used a passport to show that I’m 21, instead of a driver’s license like them. In fact, back at home, I never drove a car because most of us learn how to ride scooters and motorbikes first when we’re 16 or 18. Those are transportations that are best for small streets and alleys in Vietnam. Then, once we can afford a car, we will learn how to drive and get a license, which is usually later in life. For my parents it was when they were in there 40s. I used to stay silent because I was afraid that people would judge me for what I cannot do. But as I receive encouragement from people who want to understand and get to know me, I learn that I don’t have to come up with one straightforward answer or lie about myself. I can always give context and explanation to share my take on a situation. In a way, I become an ambassador of my culture and introduce my friends to a different heritage in the most casual way possible.
I believe the way that I show my authentic self and advocate for my culture does not just stop in Villanova. It will be translatable even after I graduate and start working as a Technology Consultant at Ernst and Young in New York. Because I already know that I will struggle to describe my job to my parents and friends. Why do I know? There are 3 reasons: 1/ they don’t work in technology and are not consultants. 2/ the job of a consultant changes every day, and 3/ oh man -technology jargons – like don’t even tell me about it [Pause] But, my experience in Villanova has trained me to be more patient and articulate than I was 4 years ago. I will find words, pictures, and videos to tell them about job. I’ll do everything. I will even repeat myself, if they ended up responding: “hey, can you say that one more.”
So, as you begin your journey, I encourage you to think about what makes you unique. Don’t be afraid to speak up and express your opinions, even if they differ from others. You are a valuable part of this community, and by staying true to yourself and your heritage, you can help make Villanova a more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive place.
So, buckle up, be your own driver. If you ever need help, just rely on the Villanova community. We believe in you, and we are so glad that you are here! Welcome to Villanova!