STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: ADAM NGUYEN
graduate student Adam Nguyen is quickly climbing the stairs to
success in his studies and career, earning his degrees on the
fast track and becoming a valuable team member for an important
As Nguyen works to complete his master’s degree, he has also
signed on with Green UH to promote sustainability on campus.
Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen moved to Houston with his family
in 1992. He is the youngest of four siblings with three older
sisters. Before UH, Nguyen received his bachelor’s degree in
urban studies and sociology in only three years from the
University of Texas. He then entered graduate school, first at
the University of Michigan then transferring to UH. He will earn
his degree in December 2012, again graduating early.
Nguyen joined the Green UH student team last fall. The team
works to assist Leah Wolfthal, program coordinator for
sustainability, in efforts to further the green mission on
campus including promoting green practices and events, gathering
data for national reporting, and doing research on the UH
community’s knowledge and behaviors in regards to
sustainability. As part of the student team, Nguyen has provided
graphics for promotional items and assisted in creating the
monthly newsletters as well as facilitating research for the
group last semester.
“We did face-to-face pilot surveys to assess the level of
awareness in students at UH in regards to the environment. We
wanted to get their thoughts on public transportation and
evaluate their awareness of economics and jobs in
sustainability. What we found was that students are positive
about sustainability but not really knowledgeable as to what’s
happening, even locally at the university,” Nguyen said.
He said he and the Green UH team are working to increase
awareness on campus and get more people involved in their
mission. In architecture, Nguyen said sustainability is
something that is always on his mind but being a part of the
diverse Green UH team has helped inspire him to do his part.
“What I like about my job is the freedom we are given. Everyone
is able to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions openly
which allows us to learn and grow from one another. Working for
the Green UH team has really made me more aware of the
environment,” Nguyen said.
His green values have also carried over into his academic
projects for his studio course where he developed a plan for an
addition to a cabin in Mt. Rainier to house climbers before they
summit to the top of the mountain. Nguyen described a shelter
consisting of concrete and recycled glass bottles that formed an
insulated, intimate structure for climbers which had a chrysalis
appearance on the outside, but dark, modular feel on the inside.
He said it looked like a “starry night” to provide an ideal
place for rest before the climbers embarked on their journey.
This summer, Nguyen will join 11 other students on their own
trip to study abroad in Italy. It will be his first trip to
Europe. During their stay, the students will learn the culture
and take classes for studio, sketching and history while they
reside in a dormitory.
“We’re supposed to have two Italian women cook for us. I’m
really excited about that,” he said.
After Nguyen graduates, he said he hopes to get into residential
architecture or small commercial projects. He hopes to work his
way up and eventually become his own boss.
“When I was younger, I knew for sure I wanted to get licensed
and eventually start my own firm,” he said. “Now that I’m older,
I’m still toying with that possibility although I’m not sure how
the job market will fair in a couple of years. Here’s hoping it