Class of 2002 Profile





Margie Yu
Public Affairs Spec.
(323) 343-3047


of Events

Class of 2002
Tina Nguyen: National Honors Distinguish 19-year-old Grad

Cal State L.A. biology major Tina Anh Thu Thi Nguyen, 19, winner of a prestigious Phi Kappa Phi national honor society graduate fellowship, will begin her studies at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York, in fall 2002.

Tina Nguyen (Diamond Bar resident) was only 15 years old in 1997 when she began helping Cal State L.A. chemistry professor Wayne Tikkanen in his research lab, but she had already been going to college for more than two years.

From the age of 12 to 14, Tina had been taking night classes at Rio Hondo College while attending junior high during the day. Her teachers at St. Gregory the Great in Whittier, who were looking for a way to keep her interested and focused on her studies, suggested the idea. "I acted up a lot in junior high," says Tina, who admits that she was impatient with traditional classes.

Now, Tina’s interests are completely focused—at the same time she was preparing to walk in Cal State L.A.’s 55th Commencement she was preparing to publish the catalytic research she has done with Professor Tikkanen over the past four years.

In 1996, Tina’s brother, Tony, a political science major, was already an Early Entrance Program (EEP) student at Cal State L.A. Tina’s parents—recent immigrants from Vietnam—had relied on their children as interpreters and spokespersons—a challenge that Tina says strengthened and matured them at a young age. However traditional their approach was to child-rearing, her parents fully supported Tina’s decision to attend the University through its unique program for extremely gifted students. When Tina applied for entrance, she impressed Richard Maddox, EEP director, with her self-direction, confidence and determination. “‘I want to become a doctor, and I need to start studying what really counts’ was Tina’s mantra throughout the interview process,” Maddox recalls.

“I really didn’t have any idea what was out there,” says Tina, now leaning toward surgical oncology and academic medicine as a way to combine research and teaching with practice. She has already been accepted into the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Loma Linda Medical School; and the Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia; and was wait-listed at UCLA and Washington University Medical School in St. Louis.

In 1998, she was a Howard Hughes Biomedical Institute Research Scholar. On the National Dean's list since 1997, she received the CSULA Alumni Scholarship in 2001, and that same year, was listed in Who's Who Among American College Students and named an All-American Scholar.

This spring, she was one of only 52 students nationwide selected to receive the $8,000 National Graduate Fellowship from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, funded by a James R. Slater Fellowship. Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest and largest academic honor society in the nation open to students in all academic disciplines. Tina received the honor society’s national fellowship and the Cal State L.A. chapter’s scholarship at an awards banquet at which more than 100 of Cal State L.A.'s top students were inducted.

Tina Nguyen recently graduated with a B.S. in biology, magna cum laude, with honors from her department and the University’s General Education Honors Program, and with a 3.937 cumulative grade point average. She will be starting medical school at Mt. Sinai in New York this fall.


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