Anh Nguyen ’21, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Majors/Minor: Biology and Chemistry; Neuroscience

How did you decide on a major?

I discovered my love for biology and chemistry while still in high school. I chose to further my education in the United States because I knew there were lots of research opportunities, which is something that I wanted to experience as an undergrad student.

Have you had a favorite class or professor?

My favorite class that I’ve taken is Cell Biology with Dr. Jason Askvig, who also happens to be one of my favorite professors. Another professor I’ve come to admire is Dr. Krys Strand, who I have done research with on campus. She is a great resource. As the director of national fellowships and undergraduate research, she is especially helpful in assisting students with applications and finding research opportunities.

What research areas are you interested in?

My career goal is to be a cancer researcher. I spent the past two summers working in laboratories that focus on anti-cancer drug synthesis and oncogenic genes. Last summer while participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) Program at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif., I had the opportunity to learn about transcription regulation and cool techniques such as DNA cloning, CRISPR-Cas9, and flow cytometry.

How did you learn of this research opportunity at Scripps?

Dr. Mark Sundrud ’00, an alumnus of Concordia, is currently on faculty at Scripps’ Florida campus. He visits Concordia every year to provide information about these research opportunities. Scripps has been so impressed with Concordia students the past few years that they now reserve one spot each summer specifically for a Cobber.

What are your biggest takeaways from this project?

This research experience was incredible. I learned about epigenetics and gained hands-on skills in genetic assays. I also learned about the daily life of a graduate student and made connections with people within the Scripps community. Being in a high-energy and fast-paced biomedical institute like Scripps Research taught me how to learn proactively and take initiative.

Additionally, by attending various research seminars, I learned about multiple active research areas in biomedical science. These presentations confirmed my interest in immunotherapy research. Following my experience in the SURF program at Scripps Research, I realized that my short-term internship was not enough to satisfy my desire to learn more about this area of research.

Why is research important to you?

Having research experience is now a requirement to apply to any Ph.D. program. This specific research internship provided me with opportunities not only related to gaining hands-on research skills, but also with knowledge of what it is like to be a graduate student.

I hope to dedicate my life to advancing cancer treatment. Becoming a cancer researcher has been a dream of mine since high school. This passion motivates me to keep trying, even when I fail. Although I realize that this route will be demanding and require sacrifice, I remind myself that challenges provide opportunities to develop myself and that each of us can learn from our mistakes.

What are you involved with outside of academics?

Outside of academics, I work with Residence Life. Being involved with Res Life has helped me develop my communication skills and personal leadership style.

What has been your favorite memory at Concordia so far?

I loved the time when I presented my first poem written in English for the ELL 112 class.

What has made you feel at home at Concordia?

The friendliness of people around campus makes me feel comfortable and at home. I love the great connections that I have formed with friends and faculty here.

What is your favorite part about Concordia?

How awesome the faculty are. Concordia professors are so kind and always willing to help students in more ways than just academics. The staff at Concordia are thoughtful and go the extra mile in helping students learn from their mistakes in a constructive way. I feel both humbled and appreciative of the high-quality education that I know I’m receiving in the U.S. here at Concordia.

What are your postgraduate plans?

I plan to pursue a Ph.D. after graduating from Concordia College. I may take one or two gap years to prepare for graduate school if I don’t get accepted to my top choice school during my senior year.

What advice would you give to a prospective student? Do you have any advice specifically for international students?

Don’t hesitate to ask questions! During my freshman year, I reached out to many professors to ask questions directly related to my career goals. As an international student, it can be challenging to adapt to a new culture and live far away from family. However, remember that there are many resources available around campus to help you feel connected — so take advantage of them! I tell students who are not sure what they want to study to seek guidance from Concordia’s Career Center as well as professors, especially your academic advisor. They are great resources to help you determine your career path.