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Queens Student Tina Nguyen Leads Revival of AAPI Student Group

May 16, 2024 By Queens University Communications

Queens University student Tina Nguyen ’27 has ambitious plans for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student group heading into the fall semester. Collaborating closely with the group’s advisor Angela Tsuei-Strause, executive director of the Vandiver Center for Career Development, Nguyen is enthusiastic about working with fellow students to establish an inclusive space where students from all backgrounds can learn about and appreciate the rich diversity of AAPI cultures.

Joining Nguyen at the helm are Brigitte Kittner ’27 as co-president, Thien Thanh Nguyen ’27 as vice president, and Fatima Hernandez Hernandez ’27 as treasurer. This dynamic team has a clear vision for the AAPI student group, focusing on three key objectives: representation, education, and fostering a fun and engaging environment.

“I’m really excited to help establish this group on campus again,” said Nguyen. “It’s important to share the traditions and beauty of each country while opening pathways for important discussions around AAPI discrimination and racism. We look forward to building a welcoming environment where students can enjoy themselves while feeling safe and respected.”

A Charlotte native, Nguyen spoke of the values her parents instilled in her. “They came to America from Vietnam in their early twenties for a better life, and family was always central,” she said. “Despite our modest means, our home overflowed with joy. We enjoyed spending time with loved ones, especially during Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Feasts brimming with pho and other Vietnamese classics became cherished memories.”

Juggling the responsibilities of being the eldest daughter and granddaughter, Nguyen prioritized education and setting a positive example for her siblings and cousins. This drive led her to an exciting opportunity. While a student at East Mecklenburg High School, an admissions counselor spoke to her class about Queens’ Charlotte Talent Initiative (CTI).

The CTI is a cohort-based career pipeline program for select students that funds tuition, room, and board as long as students continue to meet the requirements of the program. Designed to create economic success in Charlotte by helping talented students succeed in their careers, the CTI works to achieve this goal through funding education and purposeful in-class and out-of-class experiences such as coursework, internships, mentorship, and leadership development. Currently, cohort partnerships are with Ally Financial and Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

The chance to gain hands-on experience and mentorship from industry leaders was irresistible to Nguyen. News of her acceptance into the Ally Financial cohort sparked an outpouring of support from her family. She received a flurry of texts from loved ones celebrating her achievement and congratulating her as she embarked on the next chapter of her life.

The balance of living on campus while being close to home has been ideal for Nguyen. “My time at Queens has been amazing. While I am fully immersed in the college experience, I can also visit my family whenever I’d like,” she explained. “I love the small class sizes and I’ve already begun building strong relationships with my professors, and my Ally mentor, Samantha Luu.”

Luu, a cloud engineer at Ally Financial has enjoyed her time with Nguyen. “In the short time that I have mentored Tina, I have watched her grow and mature. From learning how to study and admitting her flaws to watching her find her strengths,” she said. “She’s a fierce, determined, and hardworking student who has accomplished so much in her first year. As someone who is also part of the AAPI community, seeing her leadership skills and determination to bring the AAPI club back was truly inspirational.”

With a clear vision, Nguyen has chosen marketing as her major and a minor in data analytics, as required through the Ally cohort. However, her ambitions extend far beyond academics and into the community. Embracing Queens’ motto, “Not to be served, but to serve,” she’ll dedicate this summer to working with children at Charlotte’s UrbanPromise Summer Camp program.

After college, Nguyen plans on following her parents’ wisdom to prioritize happiness over chasing a paycheck. She looks forward to leveraging her skills in a meaningful job that offers her the flexibility to explore the world. Her guiding principle? She’s not planning for a dream job but instead, she’s building a dream life.