Campus News

Staff Spotlight: Meet Dinh Nguyen, our undergraduate student advisor

Bokie Muigai August 22, 2023
USC graduate giving Fight On sign

Dinh Nguyen is a Student Services Advisor for the Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences. This October marks three years since he joined the department. His infectious spirit, unrelenting dedication, and charismatic demeanor make him a great point of contact for our undergraduate students. “Dinh is a joy to work with. He is deeply committed to our program and the success of each one of our students. He is always thinking of new ways we can provide support and improve the student services we currently offer,” shares Heather Wipfli, PhD, director of the undergraduate programs. Read more about his time in our department.

What are your main responsibilities in the department?

I am an academic advisor and I work with students to plan out their time here. I am here to ensure they are taking the necessary courses to fulfill their graduating requirements. I also help students navigate campus tools and resources. USC is a relatively large university and sometimes this can be overwhelming. As student advisors, Stephen Perry and I talk to students about their needs and what we can do to help support and connect them to the right people. This ranges from the financial aid office, career services and even counseling services at USC Student Health. All this information is shared with students when they first arrive at USC, but they have so much going on during that time— they usually put it on the back burner until they reach out to us.

Photo courtesy Dinh Nguyen.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really adore the students we have in our program. They are the best thing at this university and about this job. There are schools out there that have certain aspects that make them stand out, but no university has a better set of students than USC. A personal goal of mine is to create the best environment because we know how important community is to them.

How so?

The undergraduate students are very ambitious. It’s refreshing to be able to work with students who want to do so much and are eager to learn. They are striving to make a difference in the world, and this is evident from our conversations. Many of them are pursuing careers in health and want to be involved and give back to the community here in Los Angeles and in their hometowns. With everything they have going on in their lives, it’s remarkable they still think of others.

They are also very resilient. They were in school during a time like no other in the history of higher education— and they were still expected to go to school. They were resilient in adapting to online learning and then readjusting back into classroom—all while working through a lot of personal issues and mental health challenges. They have been able to do well, focus and maintain their ambition. Overall, they are great people.

What is one thing you find yourself sharing with students across the programs?

Along with the time they dedicate to studies and succeeding in the classroom, they need the same energy to address their own mental and physical health. Many our students have always been high-achievers, and they assume they will use the same coping mechanisms that helped them in high school—but college is a different ball game altogether. We shouldn’t expect students to automatically know how to navigate undergraduate life. That’s why we have experts at the USC Counseling and Mental Health Services and the USC Kortschak Center For Learning and Creativity. I advise our students to constantly monitor and manage their mental and physical health rather than sacrifice them for their studies.

Who do you work the closest with and what do you enjoy about working with them?

I work closely along (Student Advisor) Stephen Perry, (Program Manager) Angela Turk, and Dr. Heather Wipfli. What I enjoy the most about working with them and in this department, is there is a lot of encouragement and support to try new ideas. The team has been great in cultivating that space to be creative—especially when it creates a better student experience—because college is a transformative for our students.

Get to know Dinh

What did you want to be a kid?

I wanted to be a marine biologist. I love animals and there is something about the ocean that feels like home. It gives me a feeling I can’t explain. I really enjoy being close to water.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love music, and I like curating playlists for people—it’s a great way to introduce people to new music. I’ve been watching a lot of Korean dramas lately. I also love sports, I watch European football —I’m a Liverpool supporter; I also watch (American) football, basketball, baseball and started watching golf.  I also have two dogs.