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Cadet Maj. Dan Nguyen: Aiming High

November 25, 2008

It didn’t take Angelo State ROTC Cadet Maj. Dan Nguyen long to figure out that sometimes the grass is greener on your own side of the fence.

A junior international business major from San Angelo, Nguyen left the ROTC program and ASU altogether after the fall 2005 semester. Without a concrete plan for his life, but with some family issues, he took off to visit relatives in California. It wasn’t long, though, before he was back in West Texas.

“The break really helped me,” Nguyen said. “I went to California for a semester and took courses there. ASU is more homey and has a better student-to-faculty ratio. Also, there is really some diversity here and I’m surprised at the number of international students. So, I like it a lot better here.”

It only took that one semester at City College of San Francisco to convince Nguyen to return to ASU in the fall of 2006. But, it took a bit more time and some real soul searching before he rejoined the ROTC program in the fall of 2007.

“I wanted to get situated with my family life first,’” Nguyen said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, so I wanted to experience regular campus life to see how things went. I realized that the Air Force is for me, rather than waiting for a regular job. I want to see what is out there in the world.”

“Seeing all my friends graduate and be commissioned as lieutenants, that really told me something,” he added. “It was like, ‘Wow, they are doing something and I can do it, too.’”

With a brother already serving in the Air Force in places like Misawa AB, Japan, and Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Nguyen had a pretty good idea that he wanted to join the service. Now, he realizes what a great stepping stone ROTC can be.

“Once I get commissioned, I’ll get to travel and experience a lot of things that I wouldn’t just having a job and living in one city,” Nguyen said. “I want to travel and ROTC will help open that window of opportunity for me. Plus, I’m working on my degree already, so I want to finish off what I have started.”

This past summer, Nguyen took another big step toward his Air Force career when he attended Field Training at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Ala. It was there that he learned more about leadership, teamwork and attention to detail through programs that included conflict management and deployment scenarios.

“I was a flight commander in charge of 28 cadets during the second week of training and it really took me out of my comfort zone,” Nguyen said. “But, I learned to become a leader and it was quite an experience.”

Currently the cadet scheduling officer for ASU’s ROTC Detachment 847, Nguyen is also a member of the Arnold Air Society. Once he graduates and gets his Air Force commission, he hopes for a career in either intelligence, air battle management or electronic communications.