Medical School

Tuong van Nguyen

Recent MCW alumna honors heritage, family

Tuong van Nguyen isn’t just the first in her family to finish medical school. Add college  and high school to the list.

Nguyen’s parents came to California as teenage refugees in the midst of the Vietnam War. Neither could speak English. Both dropped out of school because of the language barrier. Her dad found work as a mechanic, her mom as a manicurist.

“As the second-oldest of five children, I always had a lot of responsibility at home,” Nguyen said. “But I always knew I would take advantage of the opportunity for education. And I always knew I was interested in medicine.”

Now a first-year resident at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara, Calif., Nguyen majored in biology at UC-Irvine. When she began looking at medical schools, she cast a wide net.

“The application process is very rigorous,” Nguyen said. “I applied broadly the first time, because people told me having to go through it twice would be agonizing!”

Most of her targets were on either coast, but Nguyen scored an interview at the Medical College of Wisconsin and had her eyes opened to the “Third Coast.”

“Interviewing at MCW was a wonderful experience,” she said. “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I liked the diversity the student body offered.”

Nguyen wasn’t disappointed by the curriculum, either.

“I thought they did a great job of catering to the individual learner,” she said.

Nguyen had since eighth grade had an interest in global health.

“While at MCW I co-founded a project on hepatitis in the Hmong community. Also, I worked on a ‘Helmets for Kids’ program in Vietnam, which focused on injury from not wearing bicycle and motorcycle helmets.”

 Nguyen speaks proudly, not of her accomplishments, but of her experience in medical school.

“I wouldn’t have had this opportunity anywhere but MCW.”

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