Phat Nguyen (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Hometown: Worcester, Mass.
Majors: Finance, philosophy  
Notable Activities/Achievements: Options Through Education scholar; Greater Worcester Community Foundation scholar; Boston College Vietnamese Students Association production coordinator; Learning to Learn Dominican Republic Service-Learning and Immersion Program; Worcester Youth Nian Dancers co-founder; Southeast Asian Coalition volunteer/staff member; East Coast National Annual Lion Dance Competition co-founder and director (and host of a collegiate version); Hurricane Irma volunteer; "Youth Effect International" volunteer.
Post-Graduation Plans: Incoming Global Services Leadership Development Rotational Program Analyst at Dell; long-term goal of social-entrepreneurship or counseling psychology graduate degree.

A first-generation college student, Phat Nguyen migrated at age 10 from the Vietnam countryside to the United States. He came to the Carroll School of Management to pursue a degree in finance, with a strong desire for an education that would enable him to serve the community and the individuals that contributed to his upbringing and development. Along the way, he developed a love for philosophy and realized its importance in his personal life, leading him to pursue it as second major. Nguyen emphasizes that the person he is today is largely due to the sacrifices of his grandparents and parents - especially his grandfather, a prisoner of war for nearly 10 years after the Vietnam War who moved to the U.S. in 1995. Nguyen describes his undergraduate years as among the most transformative and challenging to date. While at Boston College, he continued to serve his local, and other, communities. The concept of "paying it forward" was one of his main inspirations in facing difficult times as an undergraduate.

Has BC made a difference in your life?
As a first-generation college student, I did not know what to expect when I arrived at BC. I am extremely thankful for all the opportunities and relationships that I established during the last four years. Without a doubt, the vast amount of resources and support at Boston College helped me realize the importance of reaching out and asking for help when needed.

How have your studies and experiences here prepared you for the future?
While the content of the different courses I have taken is important, learning how to ask questions and think critically—both in and outside the classroom—are the lessons that will have the biggest impact on my future.

Do you find that your finance and philosophy majors complement one another?
I get this question quite often! Finance is the major that teaches me how to make a living; philosophy teaches me how to live. I have always had a great interest in business, and finance stood out as a major that would enable me to better understand the business world, and be an essential instrument in my career. But as an individual who often questions "why," philosophy stood out as a major that would enable me to learn about myself and offer me the opportunity to pursue the "truth" in life. Philosophy also teaches me how think about problems/issues from different perspectives; this was something I was able to apply to my finance major.

Who are some of the most influential people you've known at BC?

[Professor of the Practice, Business Law and Society] Amy LaCombe was my Portico professor and advisor during my first year at BC. Aside from being a great professor, she is an extremely kind, humble, and supportive individual who always had faith in me and my abilities, especially when I was lacking faith in myself. I am also grateful for [Carroll School] Assistant Dean Amy Donegan and [Carroll School Undergraduate Program] Assistant Director Josephine Xiong for support and guidance regarding my academics and career search.

I would also like to express gratitude to my mentor Scott Olivieri [University Communications director of web services] for great advice and always being willing to listen. Finally, I am forever grateful for the many lifelong friendships I've made at BC, specifically [seniors] Steven Guerrero and Sakada Heng; I thank them for being supportive and insightful friends.

What BC experiences have had the most significant impact on you?
The first two semesters of my college career had the most significant impact. This transition period—coming from an inner-city public high school to a prestigious university was an experience that made me even more determined. It was challenging, but I had an opportunity that many of my family members did not.

The summer after my freshman year I returned to Vietnam for a family visit and was reminded of my humble upbringing and all the struggles my family overcame. I was the first child on my father's side to have the opportunity to pursue a college degree. I came into my sophomore year with more determination and optimism to thrive and succeed. I knew that with the vast amount of resources and great professors at BC, I had all the tools and support I needed to strive for excellence.

What will you miss most?
Aside from the view of Gasson, I will miss all the individuals that I've met at BC. I truly believe that my journey throughout the four years has been much more meaningful and memorable because of the very people I've had great conversations with.

What advice would you give to incoming BC students?
Have faith and be patient with yourself, especially those who are first-generation college students and/or immigrants. At times, you might feel like you are behind in comparison to others, academically or career wise. However, I can assure you that every single student on campus is going through some sort of struggle. It is important to have faith in yourself and give yourself time to learn and grow. After my four years attending BC, I am not as proud about my achievements as I am proud of the journey and the obstacles I overcame. Embrace the difficult times and enjoy the good times: you will have plenty of both.

How has your family supported you in your BC journey?
I thank my Mom, Dad and baby sister for always having faith in me and giving me unconditional love. There is no greater sacrifice than the one my parents made. They left behind the life they knew in Vietnam to move to a country they knew nothing about, including the language. Since we moved to the U.S., they've worked tirelessly to provide for my sister and me. But their biggest gift was their faith in me. No matter where I go and what I do, they will forever be the heroes that I aspire to emulate.

—Rosanne Pellegrini | University Communications | May 2018

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