The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Staff Profile: Thanh Nguyen

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"Working at Dartmouth College and at Rocky specifically was an easy choice for me – it allows me to channel my energy to help others in fulfilling their potential."

Thanh Nguyen - Program Coordinator, Co-Curricular Programs

What was your most rewarding collegiate experience as an undergraduate or graduate student?My initial reaction is to want to discuss my senior honors thesis project within my psychology major which explored different aspects of death anxiety – and while this was my culminating experience that I had academically while at Keene State College – it is by far not the most important insight I gained during my undergraduate program.  The most rewarding experience I had was gaining much-needed focus with my skills and talents and learning about myself.  My undergrad served as a critical start for me – I learned that I’m interested in how people think and how they make decisions, and what some of the factors are that influence those decisions.  As a social psychology major, I learned that there are oftentimes counter-intuitive factors that lead to decisions with serious consequences that we often ignore or minimize when we rely upon the “conventional wisdom” or even worse, bad science.  This spurred my continuing interest in public policy.

Why did you choose to work at Dartmouth College, and/or what do you currently most enjoy about your position and/or field of interest?
Working at Dartmouth College and at Rocky specifically was an easy choice for me – it allows me to channel my energy to help others in fulfilling their potential.  At the risk of sounding like a campaign ad, this, to me, is the core of our values of liberty and freedom.  I am helping others to become better versions of themselves, and increasing their ability to become autonomous and determine their own path.  There’s really little else that is more important to me than that. It is such an added bonus that the place I am able to do this is within a highly regarded public policy center at Dartmouth.  The topic area of public policy could not be more relevant to our nation’s trajectory and the impact that it has on everyday people.  I can’t wait to learn about the impact that our current students will have as future leaders in the public sector.

What is your most important message to pass on to students?
Pay attention to the world around you.  By that, I don’t necessarily mean pay attention to international affairs and current events, but seize the opportunities in your everyday lives to learn something.  Small occurrences, chance encounters.  There’s something to be learned from everything.

What hobbies do you engage in during vacations and outside of work?
Camping.  There’s nothing better than grilling some food, building a huge campfire, and spending time with friends.  Helps me to think and recharge my batteries.
What is one life experience or aspect about yourself that students do not know?
I’m an avid cook.  I enjoy experimenting with different recipes and kitchen gadgets (I think I have about 5 different options of brewing coffee any given morning).  I’m a fan of America’s Test Kitchen and Alton Brown – they both take time to teach reasons why certain techniques work and where and when to use them, instead of just providing a recipe to follow.  My best dishes – beef and vegetable stir-fry and pesto chicken with sundried tomatoes.

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