President's Medal recipient:

A strong and capable leader


Nancy Nguyen, Dean’s Award recipient, College of Health and Human Services and President’s Medal honoree for 2017

By Fred Baldini,'82, MA '85 (Physical Education)

baldiniOn Saturday, May 20, President Nelsen named one of our graduates, Nancy Nguyen from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the 2017 President’s Medal honoree. For many in the College of Health and Human Services, it was our privilege to nominate her as our Dean’s Award recipient, making her eligible for this highest Sacramento State honor.

I am so proud of Nancy, certainly for her accomplishments, but also because she represents who so many of our students are: diligent, giving and curious.

Nancy is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees who came to the U.S. via a tiny boat on a journey marked by pirate attacks and forced labor.

Growing up with refugee parents who did not speak English and worked in low-paying jobs, Nancy experienced extreme poverty, social isolation and violence. Bullied at school for being “the free-lunch kid” because of her family’s need for welfare, Nancy began teaching her father English when she was just 6 years old. Thus began her interest in speech and language.

“We’ve all had our own hardships, faced adversities and made countless sacrifices in order to achieve this milestone, so today is the day where we celebrate you, your accomplishments and everyone who has helped you get you to where you are today,” she reflected during her Commencement address. In true “Nancy” form, she gracefully acknowledged her professors, friends and, most of all, her family.

Nancy is a strong and capable leader who has served students from the Hmong, Russian, Hispanic, African American, Filipino, Korean and Chinese communities through the Speech Pathology Multicultural Group. Nancy has mentored at-risk neighbors, and spearheaded a school supplies drive, collecting more than 5,000 supplies for youth. She has volunteered with our campus’ Autism Center for Excellence, local food banks, a local head trauma support group and others.

As a Sacramento State graduate myself, I am honored to call her a peer and, as she returns in the fall to seek a master’s degree, secretly pleased that we will continue to have Nancy in our daily lives. The vision of the College of Health and Human Services is to be recognized as a catalyst for educating future health and human services leaders in diverse communities. Nancy helps bring meaning to this vision.

Fred Baldini is Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Sacramento State.

Return to Sac State Magazine