By: Patricia Kaowthumrong | Asian Avenue magazine
Henry Duong attributes the discovery of his career path to a combination of luck, curiosity, finding a sense of security and discovering a way to give back. Additionally, Duong’s involvement in the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community and experience as an Asian-American college student helped him discover his passion for student affairs.
“I had to navigate this thing called college on my own as an Asian American,” Duong says. “If I can somehow be there for students who may be feeling similar to what I have experienced, then that is what will make my work fulfilling, knowing I was able to help someone. It is my way of giving back to my community.”
Duong, who’s currently working toward a Master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Colorado State University (CSU), is excited to start a career helping students find success. In 2011, he helped establish the Colorado Asian Pacific Youth Association (CAPYA), a nonprofit that provides educational opportunities for APIA youth.
“Juggling cultures can become more difficult in college, because in the case of my first semester of college, I was living away from my parents for the first time while still holding the same family responsibilities,” Duong says. “My transition from high school to college was hard because of many reasons. I look back at it all now and see that part of the reason why I am in student affairs is so that I can try to support student success and make sure students who are struggling know that they have resources.”
Other accomplishments that he’s proud of include getting his Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and being able to represent his family as a first-generation university graduate.
“The values that have been instilled in me through my parents have influenced my path,” Duong says. “I believe the fact that being the oldest child has influenced my career and life path because I have always had to help my parents, so I think helping others has always been something that’s natural for me.”
Duong says he realized how much he enjoyed working in student affairs and with college students at the end of his third year of college. His role as an orientation leader and student coordinator at MSU Denver gave him the opportunity to grow as a student leader.
“Student affairs is my calling card to being able to impact the lives of college students,” Duong says. “Not only that, but it will allow me the opportunity to be in a role in which there are not many APIA student affairs professionals. As an APIA student affairs professional, I feel as if I would be able to support and be a resource to APIA students. In addition, I feel that it helps put another APIA voice at the table in important discussions on a university campus, so that when best practices are being formed, I can make sure it is also inclusive of all communities and identities.”
Duong’s advice for individuals looking to find success in their careers is to “believe in who you are and who you can become.”
“Be okay with feeling lost and be willing to search for answers,” he says. “Allow your passions to create your career. Trust and appreciate the process the entire way.”
Most of Duong’s spare time is dedicated to his role as outreach director of CAPYA, taking photos and videos, snowboarding and finding down time.
“Practicing mindfulness for me has been something I have had to be more aware about over the years because I am an internal processor and do my best thinking when I am not around others,” he says. “So I definitely try to structure time within my spare time to just sit, relax, and think while watching television or YouTube.”
SCHOOL Colorado State University (M.S. Candidate, Student Affairs in Higher Education), Metropolitan State University of Denver (B.A., Behavioral Science)
HOMETOWN Oakland, Calif.
INVOLVEMENTS GUIDE Involvement Coordinator/Assistantship in Residence Life at CSU, Student Affairs in Higher Education Journal Board at CSU, Resident
Assistant Selection Committee for Residence Life, CSU’s Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center (A/PACC), Colorado Asian Pacific Youth Association (CAPYA)
QUOTE HE LIVES BY “Be humble and remember what got you where you are, every step of the way.”
DESCRIBED AS Thoughtful, Driven and Includer
HOBBIES/INTERESTS Snowboarding, photography, videography, sports, working out, good conversation, watching Disney Channel Original Movies and Boy Meets World
DREAM JOB Full-time student affairs practitioner, and one day, a Vice President or Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs