Name: Minh Anh Nguyen
Location: Portland, OR
Occupation: College Student
Scholar extraordinaire, Minh Nguyen has transcended high-school to become one of the more profoundly brilliant and unique academics around. A math wiz, viola player, rocket launcher, and researcher, Minh is also a new student at Yale, and yet she remains humble.
“All of these accomplishments were not achieved alone,” she says. “I received tremendous support from my family, friends, and mentors. Again, I’m not particularly amazing. I set goals for myself and worked hard.”
Well, we think that Minh’s pretty amazing! She’s been awarded the super-selective Gates Millennium scholarship, and took eight AP classes during high school, all while leading the school’s competitive rocketry team, playing viola, researching pediatric cardiology, and yodeling with her besties in her free time.
As a young student, new to the United States, Minh nurtured her familiar relationship with math to help her learn a new language.
“When I first moved to the US, I didn’t know any English,” she explains. “But the one thing that is pretty much universal is numbers. Math is the same in any language. As I got older, the logical flow of algebra was almost therapeutic to me. It really is applicable everywhere.”
That’s not to say that it’s always been easy. Minh admits that some more complex classes are trickier to her, such as physics. But the difficulty isn’t a reason for her to give up. If anything, it has taught her new ways of approaching the brain-bending studies she holds so dear.
“The things you love to do doesn’t have to be the thing you’re the best at, or things that come easily to you. If you really love it, it’s worth it,” she confides.
During the summers, Minh has worked with the pediatric cardiology team at OHSU. Her research with Dr. Sahn has taught her valuable lessons in tenacity and task management.
“I learned that research isn’t glamorous and fast-paced as movies and books portray them. It takes loads of patience and determination to complete a project. The pediatric cardiology research taught me that organizing and having a methodical procedure are very important. Despite the work, the thrill of seeing my results tie together at the end was very rewarding,” she says.
Minh has two close friends that have accompanied her on her journey, Kathy and Sarah.
“Kathy and I became friends through orchestra, where we were stand-partners. We both play the viola. I met Sarah in high school orchestra, she plays violin. Because the three of us have so many classes together, it was almost inevitable!” she says. “We are very close and think very similarly. They are my biggest pillars of support. When one of us freaked out over deadlines and were just frustrated in general, we were each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”
Proof that leaning on your friends can definitely help anyone persevere! And beyond the serenade of the string section, and their shared school stresses, the girls are known for their vocal endeavors…mainly yodeling! But how on earth do three young ladies become such vocal songstresses?
“I believe we were talking about Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music and we’re mesmerized by the Lonely Goat herder song. How does someone make sounds like that?! So we started to yodel. It’s the most fun when people give us horrified looks,” she jokes.
Minh credits her friends and family with supporting her during her still-young, yet glowing, academic career. And when it comes to other young people beginning the somewhat overwhelming adventure of applying to college, she has some very sage wisdom to share.
“I spent many hours on my college essays, and even more hours on the scholarship essays. Sometimes I scrapped complete essays and started over,” she admits. “I’m acknowledged for the awards and admissions that I did receive, but there were many rejections as well. My point is I merely applied and gave it my all. I believe in trying wholeheartedly, and highly encourage everyone do the same.”
Great advice for everyone, Minh! And for your triumphs in academia and beyond, we think that for sure you are one Cool Girl!