International Student Spotlight: Thanh Nguyen

Vietnam native earning Accounting A.S. at Inver Hills

Thanh Nguyen, 18, is majoring in Accounting at Inver Hills Community College. Thanh is originally from Biên Hòa, a city of 1.25 million residents that serves as the capital of Đồng Nai Province in Vietnam. Biên Hòa belongs to the metro area of Hồ Chí Minh City, formerly Saigon.

Thanh is set to graduate from Inver Hills in May 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she will almost certainly earn her Accounting Transfer Pathway A.S. degree without ever visiting the college’s campus.

“Unfortunately, I currently do not participate in any activities or clubs at Inver Hills,” she said, “but I hope I can join Phi Theta Kappa starting spring semester 2021. I wish that I could have a real graduation ceremony at Inver Hills, not a virtual one. Otherwise, I will earn my associate degree without knowing what the school looks like.”

Biên Hòa gallery

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Inver Hills Community College is a great option for international (F-1) students. As a member of Minnesota State, Inver Hills provides an affordable option for an exceptional education. Our diverse student body combined with an active campus offer multiple options regarding educational programs, extracurricular involvement, and personal development.

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Thanh at Inver Hills…

Thanh Nguyen received a $2,500 Study Minnesota Scholarship during fall semester 2020. “I was shocked because I did not expect to receive any scholarships at Inver Hills,” she said.” The scholarship application progress was so easy—I didn’t need to write an essay or submit a recommendation letter.”

Thanh at her school in Vietnam

Thanh added that she was very happy to be admitted to Inver because she could save as much as $10,000 a year earning her degree.

“I am grateful and really appreciated the generosity of Aaron Salasek, the college’s director of outreach and recruitment, for introducing me to this scholarship, which lightened the financial burden for my family. The scholarship is one of the biggest motivations for me to study and pursue my dreams of opening my own accounting firms. My goal is to create jobs for many people at three different firms that prepare free tax returns for low-income households and small businesses.”

After graduating from Inver, Thanh intends to earn her bachelor’s degree in accounting and acquire a CPA license at the Metropolitan State or Winona State University. She then plans to pursue the Master of Accountancy at the University of Minnesota’s Carson School of Management.

“I plan to work at a public accounting firm after becoming a CPA,” Thanh said. “I hope that I would start my own accounting firm after five years of experience working in my field. I also want to open at least two coffee shops after getting married.”

“I am going to get my A.S. in Accounting at Inver Hills without ever visiting the college’s campus. Not ever seeing the school reminded me of the moment I came to the United States to study abroad without knowing what life is like here.

“I was afraid because I did not see how I was going to survive without knowing anybody in a foreign country. Therefore, I am an international student who conquers the unknown to follow her dream.”

Thanh Nguyen
Accounting Major
International Student from Vietnam
Inver Hills Community College

More about Thanh…

Thanh graduated from the International High School Program at Edmonds College in August 2019. She comes from a small family. Her mother, Thuy Duong, and father, Quyen Nguyen, own a retail store that mostly sells construction tools and supplies. Thanh’s brother, Hoang Nguyen, is 14-years-old and in the ninth grade.

“One fun fact about my family is that my father is 12 years older than my mother,” Thanh said, “so I sometimes tease my parents by asking them, ‘How could a newborn baby girl get married to a 12-year-old boy?’ or saying, ‘It’s not true to say that you are single just because your lover has not been born yet.'”

Thanh family and friends gallery

In her free time, Thanh loves drawing and painting. She also enjoys playing with her cousin’s children, painting their faces and polishing their nails.

Thanh is a fan of boba tea, also called pearl milk tea and bubble milk tea, which originated in Taiwan and is made using chewy tapioca balls, or pearls.

“I would like to open a boba tea shop with my best friend, Lily Dao,” Thanh said. “Lily currently lives in Dallas, Texas. She works part-time at a boba tea shop, so she always wants to open a similar one, and she invited me to be her partner when both of us have enough money to invest in a new shop, which would be for children who have an interest in drawing and painting.”

Thanh resides in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

One word that best describes your experience at Inver Hills:


“Because of COVID-19, I have not been to Inver Hills even once,” Thanh explained.

Thanh church camping gallery

“The photos below were taken at church camping in Vietnam. Church camping events are the most remarkable memories of my childhood. I went camping every summer until I reached 16. Doing an interview for Inver Hills News brought back the happiest memories from when I was a child and the reasons why I came here to study.”

— Thanh Nguyen, Accounting Major, Inver Hills Community College

Thanh Nguyen Q & A

Why did you choose Inver Hills?

I chose Inver Hills because of affordable tuition and fees plus the college has a great Accounting program that will allow me to transfer to Metropolitan State University. I am thrilled that I found a community college that helps me earn my A.S. in Accounting for about 5,500 dollars in annual tuition and fees. I used to study at a community college with tuition and fees ranging from $12,000 to $15,000 a year.

As an international student, I always try find the most affordable way to attend college. I do not want to be a burden to my parents, who have been sacrificing a lot to offer me the great opportunity to study abroad. I wish that I had found out about Inver Hills earlier.

What do you like best about your academic program?

ACCT: 2220 Federal Individual Income Tax Accounting is my favorite accounting course. I like how the course gave me a new outlook on my career pathway. I used to think that I was going to study accounting so I could work for a company as a budget-analysis, accounting clerk. The accounting field was still vague in my mind until I had a chance to study about federal individual income tax. While taking this course in fall semester 2020, I decided I could be a CPA and open my own accounting firm, one that prepares tax returns and performs audits for small to midsize companies.

What advice would you give international students thinking about attending Inver Hills?

I would advise international students to always keep busy studying because many will be homesick and stressed out for the first few months due to language barriers and changes in their environment. You could be upset day after day, I would say, because you cannot focus on your studies, leading to low grades that could ruin your confidence and even your life. Don’t let your homesickness tell you studying abroad is a mistake. Keep yourself busy studying in the mornings; talk to your friends and family members in the evenings. That will help relieve your homesickness and stress while boosting your energy for the next productive day.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What is the biggest difference between Vietnam and the United States?

The biggest difference between Vietnam and the United States is that the U.S. offers me an opportunity to meet and work with different people from different countries, religions, races and more, all in one place. The U.S. can help me take in the intellectual beauty from other people around the world, enhancing my knowledge of international markets and allowing me to learn more about business and investments.

What person has influenced you the most in life?

My mother has influenced me the most in my life. She is the one who encouraged me to study abroad when I was 16 years old. I was determined to come to study in the U.S. at such young age because my mother is always told me that if study and work hard earlier, I will be able retire at an earlier age. Therefore, I got my high school diploma when I turned 17, and I am going to earn my A.S. in Accounting when I turn 19 next year. My goal is to retire before I turn 40 years old and have my first accounting firm before I am 30.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

In 20 years, I think I will own at least three accounting firms and two houses for renting. I will learn how to invest in stocks and real estate with the assistance of my husband. I also teach my children to learn how to make money and let money generate money for them. I want to open more accounting firms, coffee shops and retail stores because I want to create more jobs for people. I find myself facing many difficulties when searching for a job. I understand the feelings and worries of being unemployed.

Learn more about Accounting at Inver Hills by reading:

Program Spotlight: Accounting

Accounting Transfer Pathway Degree A.S. opens door to bachelor’s degree

Accounting is the universal practice at the foundation of all business practices. Accountants and auditors make sure businesses, organizations, companies, corporations, governments, families and individuals prosper from using sound fiscal procedures. They keep accounts and public records, provide auditing services, and prepare and authenticate financial documents. Accountants stay current with information technology, the law, budget analysis and investment planning.

Accounting specialties range from basic bookkeeping to complicated appraisals. Modern accountants are insightful, well-informed business professionals. They are responsible for recording and analyzing the fiscal data that drives executive decision-making in companies, organizations and government.

Modern accounting involves calculating the cost and efficiency of new technology as well as participating in mergers and acquisitions. The best and brightest accountants are vital to the success of a company or corporation. Company accountants monitor the quality, development and use of systems to track finances, tax strategies and health care benefit management. Solid math skills are crucial for success in the accounting field.


Thanh Nguyen 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Dancing
  2. Place you would most like to visit: I’ve always wanted to visit Israel with my family.
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: I played a character named Lan, a naughty girl who never listens to God and has regrets at the end of her life. 
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) I would build a Catholic Church 2) I would establish a cemetery for aborted fetuses 3) I would build an orphanage
  5. What is your favorite beverage: My favorite beverage is boba tea, and one fun fact is that I cannot sleep at night even though I drink boba tea early in the morning.
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Train to Busan, which is about zombie virus outbreak in South Korea, and all the passengers trying to survive a train ride from Seoul to Busan. [IHN: They’ve made a sequel, Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula.]
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want to build an orphanage in Vietnam for abandoned children and the girls or women who were rejected by their families due to unintended pregnancy.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Dove
  9. Dream occupation: I want to be a certified public accountant (CPA).
  10. Person you would most like to meet: I would like to meet Pope Francis.
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: I want to learn and master tax preparing and managerial accounting.
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Overpopulation and abortion
Learn more about the Accounting Transfer Pathway A.S. at Inver Hills by contacting:

Yohannes Agegnehu
Business and Accounting Faculty

Admissions Team
College Center

Learn more about international students at Inver Hills by contacting:

Jenna Baumgard
Admissions Advisor
Via Zoom:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 11 a.m. – Noon

Aaron Salasek
Director of Outreach and Recruitment
College Center

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