The Carnegie Corp. recently honored Foothill College President Thuy Thi Nguyen as part of its annual Great Immigrants tribute.
The philanthropic organization, founded in 1911 by industrialist and Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie, annually celebrates naturalized U.S. citizens for the role they play in helping to advance the society, culture and economy of the United States.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition,” Nguyen said. “I still remember studying for the naturalization test when I was in college, and the pure joy I had when I received the good news that I could be an American citizen. I love America for what it stands for and strives to be, including the belief that every person can improve his or her station in life with a college education. For that, I am eternally grateful and have committed myself to opening more doors of educational opportunities for students at Foothill College.”
At age 3, Nguyen and her family joined the wave of “boat people” who fled Vietnam after the end of Vietnam War. They drifted in the Pacific Ocean on a boat for more than 20 days before a commercial ship rescued them and took them to a refugee camp in Japan. Eventually, the family relocated to Wichita, Kan., and then moved to New Orleans.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and law degree from the UCLA, Nguyen rose through the ranks of higher education to become Foothill College’s president last year.
“Our annual tribute to Great Immigrants demonstrates the richness of talent, skills and achievements that immigrants from around the world bring to every sphere of American society,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corp. “This campaign reminds us of the debt the United States owes to generations of immigrants who become citizens and contribute to the progress of this country.”
Nguyen’s 37 co-honorees include Nobel Laureates, CEOs, poets, professors and actors Anthony Hopkins and Liam Neeson.