By Allison Riley | Asian Avenue magazine

Thoa2

Ethnicity: Vietnamese-American
Hometown: Denver, CO!
Involvements: President, Southwest Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (SWUVSA); Project [You]nique, a personal project promoting diversity and understanding
Quote she lives by: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Three words that describe her: Observant, loyal, animated
Hobbies/interests: Eating cupcakes, ice skating, spending quality time with loved ones
Dream job: Owning my own business!

Thoa Nguyen never pursued community involvement for recognition. Her goal has always been to progress her generation in hopes of improving society. She is currently President of the Southwest Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (SWUVSA), a Colorado-based organization aiming to unite Vietnamese Student Associations (VSA) from Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico and serve the community on a greater scale. The organization partners with the national Union of North American Vietnamese Associations (UNAVSA).

Thoa1This year, Nguyen and her executive board are concentrating on issues pertaining to Vietnamese youth in Colorado. Their upcoming projects include Tet, Black April and various fundraising banquets. “We want to bring more community activism and cultural awareness to college students and young professionals,” she said. “VSAs should be more than just social gatherings.”

UNAVSA trains leaders while motivating them to create positive changes in their respective communities. Heavily dependent on volunteers, UNAVSA has raised ample funds each year for various philanthropy projects, including more than $45,000 for Children of Vietnam in 2012.

“Since it’s a non-profit, no one with a position is paid and I think that speaks volumes on the dedication it takes to complete the work,” said Nguyen.

After Nguyen attended UNAVSA’s 2009 conference, she served on the Council of Representatives for the Southwest region. As a liaison between the regional and national organizations, she encouraged students to pursue UNAVSA’s projects alongside influencing new initiatives. Nguyen volunteered as Marketing Director for the 2010 conference in Washington D.C., then traveled as National Secretary promoting leadership and service. In July 2011, she served as one of three Executive Directors to bring the national conference to Denver.

A graduate student at Johnson & Wales University, Nguyen is working toward her Master’s in Business Administration. She earned her undergraduate degree in Advertisement and Marketing and plans to own a business in the future. Her passion for staying involved in UNAVSA is fueled by her “ever growing love for her culture and need to spread the importance of keeping it alive.”

Although she will not be a student for much longer, she never stops finding ways to serve her community. “I don’t believe it has to stop after one is transitioning into a different phase of life,” she said.