Song Nguyen, Vermont Department of Health

– I was born and raised in Essex, Vermont. And, daughter of an immigrant and a refugee from
South Korea and Vietnam. So high school for me, if I think back to high school, it was such a critical period of me trying to discover
what my options even were because I did not have family members that went through the traditional
school system in the states. Along the way I knew that I
wanted to work with people. And I knew that I wanted to
have some impact in my world where I could give back to my community. UVM was really appealing to me because of just the opportunities
that were provided through the different colleges. To have a college that was
dedicated in social services and sort of the human service field. And to know that you
could enter a university and not know exactly
what you wanted to do, but sort of decide along the way. – Human development and family
studies is a wonderful major. It’s unique because we’re the only major in the university to look
at lifespan development and the development of relationships and family systems. And then we provide an
ecological perspective. And we help them understand
how the environment shapes development and relationships. – Larry Shelton to me was
more than just a professor and a mentor academically. I also feel like he was a
life coach in some ways. He was a mentor for me
in both my professional and academic life, but also my personal life. So during my time working with human, in the human development
and family studies program, I had two amazing internships. One was the Boys and
Girls Club of Burlington, and the other was The
Community Justice Center of Burlington. During my time with the
Community Justice Center of Burlington I had the
opportunity to sit on, there were sort of justice panels which was a really unique model. But it allows somebody who has committed a low crime offense to be part of a restorative justice process. After leaving Vermont, I
was down in Washington DC for about nine years. And I worked for a local non-profit working with inner city schools, and then after that I pursued
my public health degree at the George Washington University. So while I was in grad
school I had the opportunity to take on this amazing
internship in Uganda. And it was focused on youth friendly reproductive health services in local villages across the country. After my time at George
Washington University, I started working for DC public schools where I was doing a lot of HIV, STI prevention work. And so I did that for about four years and then afterwards I decided
to move back to Vermont and continue to do public health work here for the local health department. So on the side I love to paint. I’ve been able to work on
creative mural projects in residence halls, in community centers through community shows. It has the ability to bring folks together that might now otherwise come together. I don’t see learning as a stagnant thing. I think similar to the
human development model life is a trajectory where
you’re just continuously growing and learning. I know that wherever I end up and whatever I do it’s gonna be drive by hope and motivation
to give back to my community and influence the world.

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