This Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, it’s important to reflect on the experiences and insights of those who are making a difference in our communities. One such person is a quality assurance manager for the College of Business at WGU, who has had an immeasurable impact on our institution for several years.
For over a decade, Christine Nguyen had been working at another university as an assistant dean of accreditation and compliance. Feeling unfulfilled in her position, Christine felt the need for a change. Many of her former coworkers had made the transition to work at WGU and spent several years trying to convince Christine that she should join them.
Finally, a senior leader came directly to her after her coworkers’ recommendations and invited her to interview for an open role. Christine was thrilled and couldn't wait to see what opportunities awaited her.
She started her journey at WGU as a Program Mentor with the goal of helping students achieve their academic goals. She loved working with the students, hearing their stories, and seeing them succeed. Christine feels that her personal life experiences have lent her valuable insight in her role. “I’m a first-generation child of parents who were refugees of the Vietnam War,” she says. “I struggled in the traditional brick-and-mortar setting, and though I look back on that experience as a challenge I’ve grown so much from and wouldn’t be who I am today without that experience, I know how much of a difference it made on my continued education to have an online pathway.”
After three years as a Program Mentor, Christine moved on to become the quality assurance manager for the College of Business at WGU. “I have the great opportunity to positively impact both the student and faculty experiences in my new role. I’ve been able to meet and work with some amazing people in many different departments who are all working to change our students’ lives for the better,” Christine proclaimed.
Christine's proudest moment was when she received a call from an accounting program graduate who had valiantly pushed themselves to earn 100 credit units in one term, an incredible feat. Almost two years later, the graduate applied for a staff accountant position with a new employer, and the hiring manager was a current WGU student. The hiring manager raved about the WGU graduates they'd hired and their experience as students. It made Christine feel honored and proud to be an active contributor to WGU's mission. “I have learned and gained so much from working with my WGU students. Even over a year later since I left my mentoring role, former students of mine still reach out when they graduate and thank me for the support I had given them. I treasure those relationships and experiences very much,” she added.
Not only is her role at WGU rewarding. Christine also appreciates working in an inclusive environment. “One of the areas that I appreciate most [about WGU] is the effort to bring awareness through guest speakers and relevant films. Ignorance is one of the biggest hurdles in the path of advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Christine commented. WGU has developed innovative solutions and practices to achieve equity and inclusion. The Pan-Asian Owls Employee Resource Group (ERG) has also been an essential part of Christine's time at WGU because it has helped her feel connected with others who had similar stories and experiences. This community was designed to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for employees of all backgrounds.
Christine's insights into diversity, equity, and inclusion are particularly important during AAPI Heritage Month as it provides the opportunity to reflect on the experiences and contributions of this community: “Generally, Asian Americans are grouped in such a way that the largest, more well-known populations are recognized and addressed, such as Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and so on. However, there are many other sub-groups, like Hmong, Chamorro, and Khmer. Many of these groups don’t behave the same nor have the same outcomes as the larger groups, but their needs are often overlooked when it comes to health and education,” Christine said. “With some educational institutions no longer considering Asian Americans as a minority group, they have effectively cut off these subgroups without understanding what that would mean for them,” she added.
Christine has found her footing at WGU, where she could help students improve their lives while also being part of a supportive and inclusive community. Christine's story is a testament to the importance of finding a career that aligns with your values and passions and the positive impact that can have on your life and the lives of others.