By Eileen Betz
Aithanh Nguyen graduated from the Academy of the Holy Family in Baltic, Connecticut on June 4, 2019. When first attending the Academy, Aithanh was not sure whether it was the right place for her to develop into the person God wanted her to be. However, these doubts didn’t last long.
“The Academy is the place where I truly started caring about my education. I found myself focused on my work, doing well in school, and actually wanting to learn more,” Aithanh said. “The smaller student body size and one-on-one attention helped me to never feel shy or embarrassed to ask questions or participate in class discussions.”
With the guidance of the Sisters and lay teachers, Aithanh stayed motivated and on task with her studies.
Her thirst for learning inspired her to take a summer internship at a University of Minnesota research lab following her sophomore year. Aithanh studied the causes of chronic pain in sickle-cell disease.
The summer before her senior year, her mentor allowed her to lead a new project, studying the effects of a drug prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain in patients with the disease. Aithanh worked in the lab all summer, taking no days off. Her mentor took notice of her diligence and allowed her to submit the project as an abstract for the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in San Diego, which took place last December. As first author of the abstract and the youngest scientist at the meeting, she presented the research to a room of five hundred medical doctors and scientists.
“The morning of the presentation, I was extremely nervous,” Aithanh said, “But, when the time came, and my name was called, I surprisingly walked calmly on to the stage. I began talking about my research and most of my nerves went away. I knew the research backwards and forwards and I knew what I was saying, and I was saying it confidently.”
“I have changed so much as a person during my years at the Academy and I know that I would have not been able to get on that stage if it wasn’t for my spiritual and mental growth at the Academy,” Aithanh said, crediting the school.
Aithanh plans to major in biology and go on to become a medical physician. Students at the Academy of the Holy Family truly see the power of education.
Aithanh has taken her knowledge coast to coast, from a small school in Baltic, Connecticut to the University of Minnesota, to an international medical conference in San Diego. We teach young women to better the world and discover God-given talents they never knew they had. Aithanh is truly an example of this.