Remembering Andrew Nguyen
By Gage Smith, Sports Editor
Andrew Nguyen was a high achiever, student leader and a very loved person. He always went above and beyond to help out his communities, whether that was at Heritage Christian Academy (HCA) or here at Mount Royal University (MRU). He was in the middle of his Master’s of Nursing program at the University of Toronto (U of T) and well on his way to a bright future when he suddenly passed away at 24-years-old.
He took on the challenge of the most demanding undergraduate degree MRU had to offer, the Bachelor of Nursing. He was the president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU). Only a very small percentage of people have the versatility or the ability to manage their time well enough to pull both of these things off.
So how would those closest to him describe him?
“Very annoying,” said his sister, Lindsey Nguyen, with a laugh.
She made sure to mention that her brother was a neat freak who couldn’t stand letting someone else touch his food.
Sibling teasing aside, the first words that came to mind for Lindsey when she thought of her brother were “genuine and caring.”
She said, “He didn’t waste a breath doing nothing. Whatever he did, he did with compassion for others. He was very generous with his time. A friend told me that if he was busy for a 24-hour time period and the only time he had to meet up was at six in the morning, he would wake up for that meetup just to have that quality time with a person.”
Even when he was being put in the spotlight for his own achievements, he didn’t make it about himself. He won MRU’s Centennial Gold Medal in 2020 which is awarded to only four students with elite GPAs who also, “Demonstrate leadership through involvement in campus and community activities.”
Here’s what Nguyen had to say when being interviewed after winning the award and asked what he’ll remember about his time at MRU:
“I will remember the people the most students (my peers), faculty, and staff. MRU has the kindest and most supportive faculty and staff who have cheered me on since first year which makes graduating without a convocation a bit easier. Whether from my program, clubs, intramurals, mentorship, or SAMRU, these relationships will no doubt be lifelong.”
Along with his friends, Nguyen went out of his way to help those in need. He went on a missions trip to Costa Rica with HCA and helped with disaster relief efforts in the Bahamas and in Haiti.
MRU’s nursing program teaches its students to care about “the whole person” when dealing with patients.
“The proudest moments of my nursing career so far have not been resuscitating patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), but rather, when I get to stop and sit with patients and their families and listen to their stories. To learn from them in their weakest moments and to draw strength from that,” Nguyen said in an interview with MRU.
That experience on the ground and in the classroom shows his character while also putting him on the path to a career in the healthcare field. Lindsey said he had some pretty ambitious goals.
“[His plan was] world domination,” she said. “That was always his joke answer. But really, his eventual plan was to become the head of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and also to become a doctor.”
Considering his excellence as a nursing student and his experience with the political side of things as SAMRU president, it’s not hard to envision him not only assuming a leadership role within AHS but also excelling in it.
He was also a part of the administrative side at HCA, even while pursuing his Master’s at U of T. Lindsey said he would take on a ton of tasks and responsibilities and never complain. He would excel in the face of pressure, always surprising those around him with fresh ideas.
When the pandemic hit, the field of health care became a lot less attractive. The last two years have seen hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, and unglamorous tasks like vaccinating the masses have only added to what was already one of the most stressful lines of work. Lindsey said the pandemic didn’t sway Andrew’s career plans one bit. Maybe to him, the pandemic was just one more disaster to run towards while everyone else was running away.
“Love God, love people.” Lindsey said that was his motto and the philosophy he lived by and that he thought that “we’re all broken” and deserve compassion.
Nguyen said, “No matter where I am, I’ll simply do my best to help others.”