From Geology to Valedictorian

Friday, June 15, 2018

Written by Richard Nguyen (BSc '18)

5 years ago, I made an impulsive decision. It was late December and I had just received an offer of admissions to study Geology at Waterloo. However unlike many of my peers, I had barely done any research and hadn’t visited any schools throughout the process; I accepted anyway. At the time, I was just some kid who loved the outdoors and wanted to travel the world as an Exploration Geologist someday.

Richard Nguyen and a colleague with balloons
If you had told me that this same kid, would one day graduate from the Science and Business program, have dreams of working in healthcare, and would eventually become a Valedictorian, I would’ve said you were out of your mind. After all, I hated business and public speaking!

So how did I get here? Well, I wasn’t alone. No, if there is one tidbit of wisdom that I would like to pass onto future Waterloo students, it would be the fact that the experiences you have here, both positive and negative, will challenge you to be your best and the connections you make will help you reach new heights! The more people I met, the more my passions changed and the more opportunities became available to me.

In my second year, I decided to study business instead of Geology. In my third year, I attempted to specialize in Chemistry, which unfortunately didn’t pan out. And in my final year, I finally completed a minor in Psychology. At the same time, I was getting more and more involved. I became a Teaching Assistant, a Campus Ambassador, a Psychology Research Assistant, and a Coordinator for Science Orientation. At the end of the day, there are just so many people to meet here and all kinds of opportunities out there as long as you’re willing to go out and search for them.

Now as a Valedictorian, I have this wonderful opportunity to help inspire my graduating class and more importantly, to remind them that everything is going to be okay even if they don’t have an immediate plan for the future.

Richard Nguyen

To my fellow graduates, the adventure doesn't stop here! It’s time to see the world for what it truly is: full of limitless possibilities. And similar to our time here, it’s all out there as long as you’re willing to go out there and find it. There will be days where you’ll feel defeated and there will be days where it feels like you’ve conquered mountains. Remember that you will never be alone.

You now have access to the greater alumni community, so make use of it! There are all kinds of events happening all around the world that can help you meet both recent and past alumni! And if you’re like me who loves to get involved, you can even help run these events! Whatever you choose to do and wherever you end up, remember to stay connected with the people that helped you get there because they will always be your most valuable resource in life.