By Brenda Velasquez | Asian Avenue magazine
Ben Nguyen is blessed to have three great loves in his life: dance, music, and brotherhood. An optimistic 20 year-old Vietnamese-American, Nguyen was introduced to his first passion at age six, taking piano lessons and composing music.
“It was my first form of expression,” recalls Nguyen. “To create something new and develop it was part of the curriculum with my teacher. It made me feel empowered.”
Nguyen stumbled upon his second passion for dance as a high school freshman when his mother’s battle with cancer left him devastated, searching for support in a lonely predominantly Caucasian neighborhood.
“Hip hop has a really special place in my heart because it sheltered me in times of need,” recounts Nguyen. “It gave me so many opportunities, leading me to meet great, diverse people. It helped me grow as an individual through not giving up, knowing we all have a common goal of improving ourselves. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger.”
Joining the hip hop community strengthened Nguyen’s self-confidence, breaking him out of his shell and leading him to his third passion as a college freshman when he took the initiative to enter a brotherhood with Colorado’s first and only Asian culture fraternity Pi Delta Psi. As External VP in his fraternity, Nguyen manages public relations, setting goals and planning events; as a member of the Side by Side Dance Company crew, he unleashes his creativity out on the dance floor, juggling his talents and time.
His experiences in both dancing and his fraternity helped Nguyen develop interpersonal skills, interacting with diverse teammates, collaborating with under-represented groups and volunteering with organizations.
“Experience is important to becoming a leader,” states Nguyen. “You have to be able to envision various possibilities and relate to different kinds of people.”
Reflecting on troubling observations made during his time with these groups, Nguyen considers a career in student affairs where he can serve as a mentor and tackle underlying issues within campus organizations. Inspired by the camaraderie fostered within the hip hop community, Nguyen desires to apply this sense of fellowship in enhancing communication between parties.
“I want to help with issues that are not usually seen; though they’re addressed, they’re not fixed,” explains Nguyen. “Issues such as a lack of communication and understanding-that’s where a lot of tension is created, the root where all other issues arise. Hip hop culture has a very effective way of breaking barriers because who you are is related to what you can bring to the table. You can come from any background, be poor, rich, from different ethnicities but we can all come together and I’d like to recreate that phenomenon on a bigger scale.”
Perhaps in time this passion for coexistence will lead Nguyen to yet another great love, making positive impacts for a living.
About Ben Nguyen
Hometown: Westminster, California
School: University of Colorado at Boulder; Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology; Class of 2015
Involvements: Pi Delta Psi Fraternity External Vice President/ Culture Shock Chair/ Rush Chair; Side by Side Dance Company; Student Outreach and Retention Center for Equity (SORCE) Inner Campus Liaison; Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) Co-Fraternity Chair; CU Breaking Club
Hobbies/interests: dance, piano, tennis, community engagement
Ben in three words: energetic, passionate, spontaneous
Dream Job: Composer
Quote He Lives By: “Hard work always trumps talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”