By Sue McMurray, Carson College of Business

Washington State University undergraduate Nam Nguyen has been awarded a national Global Student Leadership Award by Diversity Abroad, an organization connecting diverse students, recent graduates and young professionals with international experiences to prepare them for future education and career opportunities.

Recipients have developed innovative practices and championed inclusive excellence, all with the aim toward preparing diverse students for academic and career success through equitable access to global education.

Nguyen, an Honors College student and an international business and marketing major in the Carson College of Business, received the award this month during the Diversity Abroad Conference in Boston.

“Nam is an excellent student, passionate about international education, and committed to excellence in the field,” said Jessica Cassleman, Carson College of Business assistant dean, international programs.

Opening the doors to the future through international exchange

Since his first summer study‑abroad experience to Ireland, Nguyen has completed 11 study‑abroad programs. He is the first student in the 129‑year history of WSU to study abroad on every continent.

Through his travel experiences, Nguyen gained new insights about how people solve problems around the world. He also learned more about himself through the lenses of other worldviews and has an even greater appreciation for other cultures and beliefs, he said.

“Nam is the best example of how international exchange can open doors to the future,” said Stefanie Gruber‑Sliva, program officer, DAAD North America. “Through his ongoing commitment to and passion for diversity abroad, he has made global education opportunities more accessible to a wider group of his peers.”

Research contributes insights to study‑abroad program designers

As a student researcher in the WSU McNair Scholars Program, Nguyen explores why some study abroad destinations are more popular than others, as well as what factors influence a student’s choice. The project will illuminate students’ study abroad experiences, providing insights to counselors and those who design study abroad programs, he said.

Nguyen has presented his research at several international conferences and will present at Stanford University in April. In May, he’ll head to Oldenburg, Germany, to present his research at the World Congress on Undergraduate Research.

Mentoring and advocating for others

Nguyen serves as a peer mentor and helps new international students acclimate to WSU Pullman and the United States. As a global learning peer advisor, he presents the Global Cougs 101 study abroad information session and provides peer advising to other students interested in education abroad. He advocates for all students and is assisting with the creation of WSU’s first LGBTQ+ focused study abroad program.

Nguyen has also managed the “Engage the World” program, which invites presenters to share their international experience and cultural knowledge with WSU classes and local community groups like schools and senior centers.

“Nam has a rare trifecta of personal attributes that enable him to be a high achieving, successful student, an influential peer, and a kind and thoughtful human being, said Christine Oakley, director of WSU Global Learning. “His ability to authentically interact with students is a perfect prescription for the type of teaching and learning that occurs only through peer engagement.”