Academic Excellence Earns Invite To Presidential Inauguration For Oregon State U. Student

This story was written by Gail Cole, OSU Daily Barometer
Most of us will have to watch the 44th presidential inauguration on TV, but Vananh Nguyen will be experiencing this historic event in person.

Nguyen, an Oregon State University student, has been selected by the National Society of Collegiate Scholars to attend the inauguration of the 44th president. She will be attending NSCS' University Presidential Inaugural Conference on Jan. 17 to 21, in 2009.

"I was wondering if this was a scam because I was surprised," said Nguyen, a junior in bioresource research. "It took me a week to verify it. I still can't believe I was chosen."

"In 14 years as an adviser, I have never known another student to be invited to the presidential inauguration," said Wanda Crannell, advisor and instructor of the bioresource research interdisciplinary program and co-advisor of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).

"The NSCS sent the invitation to her based on her NSCS profile," Crannell said.

National Society of Collegiate Scholars is an honorary society that promotes "academic excellence and engaged citizenship for a lifetime," according to their mission statement. Students who achieve a 3.4 GPA and are in the top 20 percent of the first or second year college class are invited into the society.

According to the Conference's website, while in Washington, Nguyen and other students will see the inauguration and oath of office of the 44th president, view the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue and attend the Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball. The Conference will also host panel discussions and debates.

The website also stated that the keynote speakers will include Senator John Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards, political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin, and Lance Armstrong.

Nguyen was invited to be a part of NSCS as a freshman and has been a part of MANRRS since her sophomore year.

"Here at the chapter level, our students are very active on campus," Crannell said of MANRRS.

An example of MANRRS' community outreach was their 3rd annual Career Wardrobe Makeover, where donated business attire were sold for reduced prices in the MU ballroom.

Nguyen particularly enjoyed her experience working with Ag Day, hosted by MANRRS, which allows local elementary school children "to be more interested in college and to be interested in agriculture and science in general."

"I thought it was really cool that all the members are really close and we support each other a lot," Nguyen said of her MANRRS society members.

OSU's chapter of MANRRS recently won the Region VI Outstanding Chapter Award at the society's national conference over spring break; this region is the largest in the nation. Nguyen was able to attend this conference.

Beyond MANRRS and NSCS, Nguyen is also an Ambassador for the College of Agricultural Sciences. As an ambassador, Nguyen and the 15 others on the ambassador team represent the college as well as OSU at on-and-off campus activities.

Nguyen has participated in a variety of events as an ambassador, representing OSU at high schools, alumni events, Ag Fest at the Salem Fairgrounds and meeting with freshmen at the opening convocation.

"I thought it was a lot of fun," Nguyen said of the convocation event. "I lost my voice after that event because we were screaming too much."

Academics are very important to Nguyen, who is completing an option in biotechnology and toxicology in addition to her bioresource research major. She hopes to become a physician's assistant.

Nguyen particularly enjoyed her ethics class in addition to the variety of required biology andchemistry courses. She believes it helped her answer her own personal questions regarding morality in science.

"Taking one class won't answer all ethical questions, but it helps you come to terms with your morality," Nguyen said.

Nguyen is grateful for the opportunities she has been given through MANRRS. "Because of MANRRS I get to travel a lot [like] Alabama, Arizona, Denver," Nguyen said. "I'm excited."

"I'm excited to see the White House," Nguyen said. "I definitely hope to learn more about government throughout the interaction with the political figures."

"I follow the news, [and] politics is fun but I'm not trying to get involved in it," Nguyen said. "It's definitely interesting, and I think it's good to follow what's going on because it might affect your career, your school and later."

Though honored with the invitation to the Conference, Nguyen is responsible for raising the funds, including transportation and tuition for the Conference, which total over $3,000. Anyone interested in providing any financial assistance to Nguyen can contact Wanda Crannell at crannelw@hort.oregonstate.edu.