#IncomingElliott: Jenny Nguyen

Jenny Nguyen will be starting her MA in International Development Studies at the Elliott School Spring of 2021. She is the Administrative Assistant for the Asia Center at the United States Institute of Peace. Previously, Jenny worked with Catholic Relief Services where she began as an intern for the Impact Investing team, planning the logistics for the Third Vatican Conference on Impact Investing that took place in Italy. She then went on to become the Administrative Assistant for the team. She is currently serving as the Vice President of the National Association of Asian American Professionals D.C. and the National Organization for Vietnamese American Leadership. Jenny helped start ICT Food Rescue, a non-profit in her hometown of Wichita, KS, that aims to fight food insecurity. She also recently created a mentorship program for Vietnamese college students in the DMV area. Jenny enjoys volunteering, playing and watching sports, traveling, and trying new foods. She graduated magna cum laude from Wichita State University in 2018 with a BA in Business Economics.

Is your grad program related to your undergraduate degree? If so, how? If no, why not?

My undergraduate degree was in Business Economics, so it does relate to my graduate program. I did not really consider getting a master’s during my undergrad, so I am glad it worked out as I had made a big decision of switching my major from Elementary Education to Business Economics halfway through college. To be in the IDS program, an economics course background is required as it helps prepare students for the graduate-level economic courses required for the program. Economics has prepared me to take on the program as it will help me better analyze real-world issues, explore various topics in development, and cultivate my analytical and critical skil

What are you most looking forward to about grad school? What are you most nervous about?

I am really looking forward to all the connections I make and meeting the diverse and talented faculty, staff, and students who make up the Elliott School. One of my passions is learning so I am very excited for all the knowledge I will gain in and out of the classroom. I am also excited to gain a support system of people who have similar goals as me. As of now, I am most nervous about not getting the full experience since I will be starting the program virtually, but I am being optimistic and cannot wait to see what the Elliott School has in store for me.

What 3 things would you like to be known for after you complete your program?

The three things I would like to be known for are…

1.     My passion to help others. Growing up, my parents have taught me to always give back. I spend most of my free time helping my community through volunteering for different projects. I always find joy in seeing the smiles on the faces of those I help. Even if it is helping a professor with a task or being a part of a student organization, I am always willing to assist in any way I can because I enjoy helping others.

2.     Being a friend my peers can count on. I hope to be a friend that my classmates can rely on, whether it be studying for a test, going to try a new restaurant, or simply someone they can just talk too. With grad school and everything else going on in our personal lives, it is always nice to have someone who is there to support you in everything you do.

3.     My positivity. I believe that positivity in life is a key to success and happiness. No matter the situation, I try to stay positive while cheering up others. I do my best to look at the bright side of things because life is too short to constantly worry. I hope to be a positive aspect in the lives of those I meet through the Elliott School.

Why did you choose to commit to the Elliott School for your graduate program?

When I began researching the different International Development programs in the D.C. area, the Elliott School was the one that stood out the most to me. First impressions matter. The content and design of the webpage made it easy for me to navigate the page and understand the requirements of the program. Attending the Online Information Session was also helpful as I got to hear from a staff member about all the Elliott School has to offer. I was thoroughly impressed. Other factors that played into my decision is the fact that the Elliott School has one of the top International Development programs in the country, the prestigious faculty, and the location of the school, in close proximity to top international organizations. I was also fortunate to receive the America 2050 Fellowship which will allow me to focus more on my studies instead of having to worry about financing my education. All these combined, I knew the Elliott School would be the perfect fit for me.  

What are you most looking forward to doing after social distance requirements are lifted?

Coming from a small city, I love the feeling of being in D.C. and I cannot wait to get the chance to explore all of it. Moving to the D.C. area in February 2019, I made it a goal to schedule out days where I would pick a Smithsonian and take one whole day to explore the entire space. Unfortunately, the pandemic soon hit, and I could no longer do this. Because of the pandemic, I have been creative in trying to explore D.C. by going on runs around the mall and taking my bike around the city. I am also looking forward to attending all the festivals and events, and meeting new people. Hopefully, that time will come soon!


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The #IncomingElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights newly enrolling students to answer common questions posed by prospective and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.