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“Spark” – The Story of Chris Nam Nguyen

When you look around on the street, it is nearly impossible to not recognize the people that drive fancier cars than you do. You always notice the houses that are bigger than yours, the people that wear fashion brands you can’t afford, and the Facebook photos of vacations more extravagant than you’ve ever seen. Too often we use these things as indicators of success. We always want to be the one buying the Ferrari, or living in a Mansion, or going on trips to Fiji. The things we have will never be good enough, and we will always have further to go.

But do we actually believe that success is this superficial? Can it really be boiled down to nothing but basic dollars and cents? Sure, sports cars and mansions are desirable, but are they really important? Too often do we undervalue things like happiness, passion, and engagement in professionalism.

Some people, however, still find joy and spirit in their professional lives. I sat down with Chris Nam Nguyen, one of the cofounders of College Scout Vietnam, and he made that abundantly clear. Nam was born in Hải Phòng, an important port city more than one hundred kilometers east of Hanoi. Nam quickly found passion in his life. Having been raised in a single parent household, he consistently found himself teaching his younger sister. As he got older, he took leadership roles in academic clubs and continued to assist his peers in learning. His love of educating continued to grow through his academic career, and he decided to pursue education professionally. Following graduation from University, he became an adjunct lecturer at the International School of Management and Economics in Hanoi, a position he held for nearly two years. The pay was non-existent and the administration did not like his unorthodox style of teaching, which eventually prompted him to quit the job.

Nam, however, was not discouraged. The fire that was inside of him could not yet be put out. During our conversation, Nam brought up the “Aha! Moment”, professionally. At some point while helping his sister or his peers in school, he realized that this was what he wanted to do. His desire to educate and teach people is unshakable, and he will not stop working towards his professional goals in education. He’s currently working with College Scout to design online course curricula for Vietnamese students all over the country.

Nam talked to me about the people he sees working jobs they don’t like. People often lose sight in a sense, and they chase money instead of happiness. People get complacent in their current job or current careers, mainly because of the money it offers. Passion is slowly losing its place in the professional world, something that Nam is trying to avoid. He feels passion every day for what he is doing, because he knows the sadness that would come with not pursuing his passion surpasses the happiness that money can bring.

I named Nam’s piece “Spark”, mainly because of the overwhelming passion that rode on every word he spoke about his job. This is something that is becoming increasingly hard to find, and extremely refreshing to hear. Through good times and in bad, Nam’s loyalty to his passion is inspiring, and I think his story offers an important lesson to up-and-coming young professionals. Sure, success can sometimes be quantified in dollars, but in reality, it goes so much deeper than that. A life that is lived in pursuit of money instead of happiness leaves a lot of room for sadness, unfulfillment, and regret.

By Todd Sammis, University of Gettysburg, when interning at College Scout in 2017″

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