Thao Nguyen: Keuka College Prepared Me for Prestigious International Program

The management major credits her College experience for giving her the tools needed to thrive at a regional Southeast Asian conference.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fewer than 50 students from six southeastern nations were selected for the prestigious Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Today’s World program, held this spring at Mahidol University in Thailand.

Keuka College student Thao Nguyen was one of them.

“Being selected for the AsTW program was a big honor,” said Thao, a management major at Keuka College’s partner university, Vietnam National University—International School in Hanoi. “Being chosen to participate reflects recognition of my intellectual abilities, potential for contribution, and dedication to the region’s development. It signifies that I have enough capability to be selected among a competitive pool of applicants.”

 “Competitive” is putting it mildly. Thao was among 42 undergraduates from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.

A resident of Hanoi, Thao said she found her coursework at Keuka College invaluable in developing the strong communication and collaboration tools necessary to thrive in the 10-day AsTW program, where she learned about the diverse cultures, socio-economic issues, and political dynamics of the Southeast Asian region. 

The international ASEAN program, designed to foster cross-cultural understanding and regional cooperation, offered interactive seminars, lectures, cultural activities, and networking opportunities. 

“My favorite activity was walking around the markets,” said Thao. “It allowed me to be fully immersed in the local culture. One of the highlights of the markets is the warm and friendly nature of the sellers. Interacting with them provided me a unique opportunity to engage with the local community.”

She said her ASEAN experiences complemented her Keuka College instruction. She also acknowledged the impact of her College professors, who she said have shaped her worldview and provided support throughout her academic journey.

“Their dedication and willingness to help have made a positive impact on my learning,” said Thao, a third-year student who’s considering career paths including marketing, human resources, operations, and entrepreneurship. “The professors’ guidance, expertise, and the engaging classroom environment fostered my love for learning and desire to explore new knowledge.”

One of those professors, Gary Giss, Keuka College’s dean of international programs in Southeast Asia and associate professor of management, praised Thao for her strong interpersonal, academic, and leadership skills.

“Thao represents Keuka College in a very positive light,” said Prof. Giss. “We are extremely proud of her and her successes and know she has a very bright future ahead.