Think Global; Act Local: Meet Mr. Viet Nguyen
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Think Global; Act Local: Meet Mr. Viet Nguyen

Meet Mr. Viet Nguyen

Happy Summer!

I had the honor to connect with the NDSU Director of Development for the College of Arts and Sciences: Mr. Viet Nguyen.

Nguyen is a stellar gentleman thriving in his philanthropic journey of impacting the lives of students by engaging not only the FM community but also the nationwide Bison Alumni family

It is always humbling to pause, connect, and reflect with a dedicated servant-leader who keeps track of the evergrowing alumni network and the benevolent supporters of NDSU.

The Red River Valley is fortunate to have Nguyen dedicate his energy to making this community a vibrant and welcoming one!



Where do you call home?

I’ll always consider Columbus, OH home—where I was born and raised. I graduated with a dual degree from Ohio State University. My whole family is there, and we welcomed my niece into the family there. Since graduating college, Fargo has given me a community to thrive and discover myself as a Vietnamese-American. I’m traveling to Vietnam this August for the month and I’m excited to get back in touch with my family’s roots. The Vietnamese community here in Fargo gives me opportunities to remind myself of home.

What is your journey of growth and what lessons did you learn before coming to Fargo?

The main reason why I moved to Fargo, ND was for the opportunity at the NDSU Foundation. I remember when my boss called me for an on-campus interview, and I immediately thought to myself, “What the heck is in Fargo, ND?” But I’m so glad I took the jump. I remember going to Wild Terra after my interview, and a stranger came up to me and said, “You look like you’re from out of town,” not only did a conversation start, but they also invited me to their table and took me around downtown. Those people are my friends to this day. That moment alone taught me that Fargo is filled with kind, curious, and diverse people.

Can you talk about your passion for music through your marching band from college?

Music has been a big part of my life since middle school. I marched the mellophone in the Ohio State University Marching Band for four years and was one of the section leaders. I occasionally would play the French Horn during the off-season. During that time, I joined a co-ed honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, where we were cultivated as leaders in pursuit of furthering the college band programs. I built and found my closest friends and became the person I am now. I continue to volunteer and give back to the fraternity so that students can continue to be leaders in their band programs nationwide. I initially joined a community band before the pandemic, FM Golden Notes New Horizons Band, and I hope to continue to keep music in my life no matter where I am.

Can you share how philanthropy impacted your life?

I grew up in a family that didn’t have many resources growing up. Our family escaped from the Vietnam War to America. The 2008/09 crisis hit our family hard, and my parents always told us to get good grades and succeed in college to have a better life. I grew up in the public school system, and even then, I saw a complete difference between the resources other schools got compared to us. The cost of attendance for college seemed out of this world and I was afraid to take out loans. However, I applied for a scholarship from a local nonprofit called I Know I Can. Because of my story as a first-generation American, they graciously offered me a full-ride scholarship and completely changed my life. I even had the chance to meet the person sponsoring my education. While I never knew I would become a development officer professionally, I’m glad I did. I’ve always wanted to work in higher education. It’s amazing to meet so many passionate NDSU Bison who support our students. It’s so inspirational that higher education can continue to change a community. I do my best to pay it forward in whatever way I can. It’s now inspiring to make an impact on a student who may have a similar story as mine.

Why should and how can people learn about things outside the Midwest?

As Fargo grows exponentially, you can meet people with different stories, backgrounds, and inspirations. I take this thought into my personal life. It’s incredible what you can find out by asking the right question. Everyone has stories, and you never know what they have experienced. It can keep your mind fresh and can help you continue learning and experiencing new things. It’s incredibly important to expose yourself to new experiences, for keeping an open mind is one of the best ways to stay young.

What is one thing the FM area could benefit from that you liked in other cities you lived in?

100% a Korean BBQ. What is more North Dakotan than BBQing your own food, surrounded by your friends, and enjoying fresh beverages?

What is your 2030 vision? Where will you be and why?

By 2030, I hope to have made Fargo, North Dakota, a better place than I found it, either through my work at the NDSU Foundation or the fantastic experiences with the community here as they make social strides to make it a home for all people. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I hope by 2030, I’ll have my own family and easier access to see my family back in Ohio.

Pipe dream, I’ll have a late-night food cart for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and other Asian fried food that partygoers would enjoy: I love cooking for people!

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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