Graduating Global Ambassador Nguyen Dang awarded Merrill P. Freeman Medal

May 13, 2024
UArizona Freeman Medal winner Nguyen Dang

University of Arizona international student Nguyen Dang, a senior from Vietnam majoring in food safety with a minor in microbiology, has been awarded the Merrill P. Freeman Medal as part of the 2024 Senior and Provost Awards. Presented by the Dean of Students, the award is named in honor of Merrill Freeman, who served the University of Arizona as a regent and chancellor. 

Awarded to six outstanding seniors during the Spring Commencement Ceremony at Arizona Stadium on May 10, the winners exhibit academic excellence, civic responsibility, and leadership qualities. These students make contributions through extracurricular, community involvement, and leadership roles.

Nguyen and another UArizona student posing behind a CALES table

Nguyen was a peer mentor and ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

In addition to the Freeman Medal, Nguyen has also been honored by the School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences, housed within the College of Agriculture Life & Environmental Sciences, with the Outstanding Senior Award for Food Safety. 

Nguyen has been an active member of the UArizona community, notably in the Ravishankar Lab. His journey in the lab began during his sophomore year, shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic. He initially volunteered to assist with various research projects, but his dedication extended beyond the minimum requirements, often volunteering extra hours to support the graduate students in the lab. 

When I started in the lab, I always volunteered to stay a little late to help with prep work when I saw it would help the grad students,” Nguyen said. “I was helping with research and was one of the people behind the scenes.” 

This commitment to the lab led him to cultivate a close relationship with his mentor Dr. Ravishankar, who nominated him for the Senior and Provost Awards. His connection with Dr. Ravishankar also led to his current roles as an undergraduate lab assistant and a preceptor for her upper division courses.

The nomination was supported by Nguyen's impressive GPA and his extensive involvement in campus activities. This recognition not only highlights his scientific endeavors but also his leadership and service to the university community.

Nguyen and another UArizona global ambassadors.

Nguyen and the other International Student Services Global Ambassadors play a vital role in assisting international students with transition to life at the University of Arizona.

In addition to his lab work, Nguyen has been actively involved in various campus organizations, holding positions such as peer mentor and ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Equity Co-Chair for Students for Sustainability, Academics Chair for the Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, and Global Ambassador for International Student Services. His involvement reflects a deep commitment to both his academic pursuits and his community.

“Nguyen has been an outstanding Global Ambassador, radiating care when assisting new international students with their transition to a new country and culture,” said International Student Services Associate Director Noelle Sallaz. “He is always willing to spend extra time helping them find their way and goes above and beyond for every task.”

Originally from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Nguyen has embraced numerous opportunities at the University of Arizona, contributing to his field of study while also enriching the campus cultural and social life. In his role as Equity Co-Chair for Students for Sustainability, he actively promotes creating a safe space for underrepresented student populations such as people of color, LGBTQ+ students, and international students on campus.

Nguyen and and members of the Equity Committee

As part of the Equity Committee for Students for Sustainability, Nguyen actively promotes creating a safe space for underrepresented student populations on campus.

“Students for Sustainability is a student government program on campus dedicated to sustainable initiatives on campus and also within Tucson,” said Nguyen. “The equity committee was established in the spring of 2023, and the reason why we wanted to have this kind of committee is because U of A has a lot of underrepresented populations, and international populations are one of them.”

As part of his responsibilities, he coordinates roundtable discussions and educational workshops with campus organizations like the Women & Gender Resource Center and Asian Pacific American Student Affairs (APASA), just to name a few. Most recently he collaborated with APASA to educate people on how to cook sustainably by using widely available ingredients to make easy foods.

As he looks forward to pursuing a master’s degree in applied biosciences with an emphasis on industrial microbial biotechnology, Nguyen remains focused on food research, inspired by his current work at the university’s food testing lab. 

These awards reflect Nguyen’s academic excellence and his profound impact on the University of Arizona community. Congratulations, Nguyen!