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Commerce in the cards for Phil Brown scholar

By Don Fennell

Published 10:32 PDT, Fri May 29, 2020

Last Updated: 11:19 PDT, Fri May 29, 2020

Over the coming days, the Richmond Sentinel will profile the 2020 recipients of the Phil Brown Scholarship presented recently by the Richmond Community Foundation.

A humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic forever changed Oceanna Nguyen’s perspective.

Just over a year ago, while in Grade 11, the Richmond student was helping to build a house for a family of nine in the community of La Union, in the southern half of the Caribbean nation. The reception she received was both unexpected and overwhelming.

“I was greeted with open arms and a smile. Even though I was a complete stranger, they made me feel like family,” she recalls. “They were the most generous, loving and kind people I’ve ever met.”

A recent recipient of the Thompson Community Centre Phil Brown Scholarship (presented by the Richmond Community Foundation), Nguyen is now even more determined to give back, while also fostering a greater appreciation for things we too often take for granted. And during a time when “we’re all in this together” has become a catch phrase, she longs for the opportunity to spend time with those she is close to.

“I love to go out and eat with friends. I find you can be so wrapped up in school and work that you forget to take time for yourself. Socializing is a time I really cherish, because when the world gets out of control, friends will always be there to help ground you.”

Being from a single-parent household, Nguyen recognizes the financial significance of the scholarship as well as the “vast opportunities” that come with it.

“It allows me to keep achieving higher goals in my education,” she explains.

The opportunity to serve as an intern at Coast Capital Credit Union last year also introduced her to the world of finance. Realizing how much finances impact people further convinced her to pursue a career in commerce.

Scrolling through her Instagram feed one day, Nguyen came upon some sage advice: instead of asking why this is happening, ask what is this trying to teach you?

“As a teen, I know we can be a little dramatic sometimes. I find myself over-thinking all the time. When we’re faced with failures or tough decisions, we dig a deep, dark hole. This (advice) helped me get through a lot of hardships because it reminded me that there is a bigger picture to every problem. And it’s helped me realize rejection is re-direction, and life is just a series of lessons to learn.”

She has since passed on the advice to others, helping them to see their experiences as opportunities to grow and learn.

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