International Student Hieu Nguyen obtains a job in Cal’s Student Learning Center
(Santa Ana, CA) When Hieu Nguyen moved from his native Vietnam to Orange County to attend Santa Ana College (SAC), he had no idea how the choices he made would shape his future.
Nguyen initially chose to attend SAC in the spring of 2013 because he had immediate and extended family who had attended and knew there was a robust Vietnamese population on campus. He also knew his English skills were lacking and it would affect him throughout his educational journey.
“I still remember my whole first semester and that I had to repeat myself more than once,” he said. “I learned grammar and vocabulary in Vietnam, but I learned to speak here. I began working at the math center at SAC, and it really helped me because I had to push myself outside of my boundaries.”
“I worked at SAC’s math center for two years, and that really helped me with my communications skills and working with students,” he said. “That was the base for me to get the job at Cal. Everything that I learned at SAC has helped me with my communication.” Nguyen is the current program coordinator at the University of California, Berkeley’s Student Learning Center’s mathematics and statistics program.
Nguyen received his associate degree in math and physics from SAC in 2015. Two years later, he received a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics with a minor in physics at Cal. Nguyen could have moved directly into a graduate and Ph.D. program. Instead, he decided to pause and help Cal students succeed. In his current role, Nguyen designs curriculum, guides students, develops programs and provides support and training to student staff and tutors – all tasks necessary for his planned future as a professor. He plans, however, on continuing to pursue his education and career plans in the fall of 2020.
“I enjoy teaching and working with students,” he said, ”and that’s one of the reasons I’m staying here even though I have a chance to go to grad school right away. This experience has helped me open my mind in a way that needs to be open to be a teacher and that has inspired me to be a professor in the future.”
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which turned 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, and provides invaluable workforce training and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.