By David Oh, AALEAD Development & Communications Intern
Photo Courtesy of AALEAD Staff
Today we bring you an Alumni Spotlight on one of our former AALEAD alumni AND a former Development & Communications Intern, Lynda Nguyen! Check out my conversation with her below to learn about her journey with AALEAD so far as well as where she is today.
Q: How long were you in AALEAD and what are you doing now?
A: That is sort of a hard question. I have been in and out of AALEAD. I do not remember the exact time frame but I remember the different buildings AALEAD was in. I was there in the first, second, and third building. My family and I have been part of AALEAD for a long time now. I am currently finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree in educational studies and I am starting a Masters Program in Urban Policy Analysis and Management in New York. Also, I am a Program Director at a nonprofit part-time and have a side job in retail.
Q: How do you think AALEAD has helped you get to where you are now?
A: I think a lot of it has to do with building leadership skills and opportunities to participate in different activities such as camping, going to the Mayor’s forum, and being part of a national spoken word festival. I was in the Mt. Pleasant area before all the development happened. There were a lot of resources that my family and I needed in which AALEAD filled that gap for me. I was able to develop into the person I wanted to be and and reach my fullest potential because of AALEAD. AALEAD has expanded my world, which is why I wanted to go back and give back to AALEAD as well!
Q: Describe AALEAD in 3 words.
A: Hmm. That is hard! I would say that the first and foremost word is haven. Haven really encapsulates my personal experience with AALEAD. My entire family has grown up with AALEAD. I have seen my family develop through AALEAD as well as see AALEAD develop within itself. It was special being part of AALEAD in which I was able to experience a lot of things as well as meet some great friends. The next word is empowerment. AALEAD really built me up to who I am today through various different facets. Some of these include relationships, advice, and guidance. AALEAD was able to build me up in a way in which I could speak for myself. The last word would be altruistic. AALEAD is built on kindness in which they believe that everyone deserves the same share of the mic. It asks so little and gives so much. I think this organization has stayed true to what it was since the beginning and I think that is incredible.
Q: If you could thank AALEAD for anything, what would it be?
A: I would have to say that I am most grateful for the gift of curiosity and confidence, mostly. I think a lot of what I have accomplished so far have stemmed from those two things. My experience at AALEAD has provided me with these two things. All of the contextual experiences that I have gone though with this organization have allowed me to develop those two skills.
Q: What is your most memorable moment with AALEAD?
A: It is so hard to think about just one memorable moment because I have been with AALEAD for so long. One of the most memorable moments was when I was in the Elementary School Program. I think I was in 3rd for 4th grade and I was really into poetry. I helped plan this open mic type of event at a local eatery. It was just a couple of kids in my after school class in which we read what we wrote on a nice spring day. For one, it was a great accomplishment for me because I was able to share something I love with my fellow classmates. It was also very nice because I was doing something in my own community and starting to see how various structures interacted with one another in the community.
Q: If you could name a song that describes your life right now, what would it be?
A: Hmm, I have no idea. I have been so busy lately. I think my life song would be something very different from now compared to what it would be in a few weeks. I would like to give you the song that describes my life in a few weeks if that is okay. My life song would be “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit. The lyrics have a great meaning behind!
Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A: Right now? Currently? Oh. Hmm. I would say it’s someone who is a leader in Asia, specifically, in Burma. I read a lot of her work when I was young in which I think she is the forefront of what is going on in Burma. She has done so much and what she is fighting for is very empowering. If I could be her for just one day, that would be awesome. The person I am talking about is Aung San Suu Kyi. She is a political leader in Burma who is fighting for civil and human rights.
What a great conversation with Lynda! Thank you for checking out our Alumni Spotlight! Remember to check back on our blog weekly for program and staff updates. Follow us: Twitter and Instagram (@aalead). Like us on Facebook (Asian American LEAD)!