JUSTIN NGUYEN OF COLORADO COLLEGE, a junior on the Tigers' men's track team, has been selected the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Character & Community Male Student-Athlete of the Week for the period beginning April 17, 2017.
The SCAC honors the efforts of student-athletes who excel in the field of athletics, and also serve their campus and community.
Nguyen doesn’t spend much time at his house near the campus of Colorado College.
There’s no time!
At any point in any day, you can find the Albuquerque, N.M., native practicing or competing on the track, learning in the classroom, organizing an event for the school’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee or volunteering as a patient care ambassador at a local hospital or a summer camp counselor.
Nguyen is a natural leader, as shown by his selection as a team captain for the track team last year as a sophomore. He also leads by example on the track, earning all-SCAC honors last season as part of the second-place 4x400-meter relay team and a spot on the SCAC all-sportsmanship team following his freshman campaign.
He is a leader off the track as well. As the community service chair for the SAAC, Nguyen and his committee organizes community service opportunities for student-athletes. His committee was instrumental in organizing the women's basketball team’s Play 4 Kay game this year.
Nguyen’s off-campus volunteering is just as, if not more, important to him. His responsibilities as a patient care ambassador at Penrose Hospital includes providing support services to the nursing staff and aid patients and their families.
"I started working at Penrose Hospital to get more exposure in the health profession but have really embraced my role at the hospital,” he said. “I get to see the nursing staff every week and am an important part to their day to day work life. The best part of working there, however, is the smile I get to put on patient’s faces. I have had hour-long conversations with patients about their life, my life, and everything in between. Some patients are there long-term and always want to know how my week is going or how my last block break trip went.”
Nguyen would like to work at a hospital in the future, as the double major (molecular biology and economics with a minor in biochemistry) hopes to pursue a career in pediatrics and possibly get a Ph.D., to work in either cancer or stem cell research.
“I love working with children and would like to help find cures for the diseases that ail them,” Nguyen said.
Another opportunity for him to work with children came last summer as a cabin counselor at Roundup River Ranch in Gypsum, Colo. The camp is offered to kids with serious illnesses so they can truly enjoy the joys of childhood. It is also free of charge to the families.
“I provided care and guidance for campers throughout their days at camp by supporting them and cheering for them in activities,” Nguyen said. “It was easily the most rewarding week of my life as I got to be with the campers 24 hours a day. Not only were we able to provide the kids with lots of fun activities, but we were able to give them a week of relaxation where they could forget about their illnesses and just be another kid at camp.”
Nguyen is like a kid at camp every day at Colorado College. He always has a smile on his face and his goal is to put a smile on everyone else’s.