Humans of UD: Tri Nguyen

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Photo by Francesca Norman

A self-proclaimed habitual skater, freshman Tri Nguyen is accustomed to stumbling and getting back up from a fall.

Nguyen gets hurt a lot while practicing on his skateboard; recently, he twisted his ankle. He usually rests and ices the injury until it recovers, giving him time to read for his classes.

His skateboard practice and reading habits help Nguyen continue his education outside school.

“Once people leave [school] they stop learning, which is totally wrong,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen reads books on self-improvement, investing and financial growth to gain better understanding of his future plans. “I still learn every weekend. I learn something for myself, not for the sake of a grade or getting a degree.”

Nguyen had never heard of the University of Dallas at his high school in Los Angeles. After completing his SAT, Nguyen filled out the form to send his scores to UD, under the assumption that it was a public university in Texas.

Coming from a secular upbringing, Nguyen was surprised to discover that UD was a Catholic university when he received the Odyssey Days application. However, he was interested in the university due to its Core curriculum and its prime location in Dallas, since his aunt and uncle live nearby.

During a visit with his aunt before the pandemic, Nguyen attended an Odyssey Day and was impressed by the variety of classes offered at UD. He has not declared his major, but is considering taking Accounting or Finance classes.

Nguyen also applied to UD because he wanted to learn the ropes of real-estate investment from his aunt and uncle. Nguyen’s relatives have succeeded in the multi-family real estate business by investing in apartment complexes in the greater DFW area.

Nguyen has been attending mentoring classes offered by the Brad Sumrok Apartment Investor Mastery for the past few months.

“I wanted to come here to get their mentoring and network with their network. So kind of like leverage as they teach me. It’s been going really well so far,” Nguyen said. “I’m glad to come here and do what I wanted to do.”

Nguyen did not receive religious education growing up, so his Understanding the Bible class―taught by adjunct professor Matthew Guertin―presents a glimpse into Christian thinking he has never encountered before.

“It’s pretty cool to hear from the religious perspective,” Nguyen said.

Guertin, who was formerly an assistant teacher at the International Theological Institute, fosters discussion in the class and often mentions how other Christian denominations interpret passages differently.

“I’m really appreciative of how open and welcome it is to other schools of thought,” Nguyen said.

When he’s not studying for UD Core classes or learning about investing, Nguyen polishes his skills on his skateboard with friends at skate parks in Dallas.

Nguyen started practicing tricks on his skateboard as a hobby about two years ago. He described the skating community in LA as supportive and passionate, building its own subculture with unique clothing and music style. He claimed there are 13-year-olds in L.A. who surpass him in skating expertise.

“Everyone there is just so good.”

Nguyen recognized that L.A. has the most ideal weather for skating and “more developed” skate parks, but said he still likes the Dallas skate parks.

Several times a week, Nguyen visits the skate park, and Nguyen’s closest friends are members of the Dallas skating community. Although Nguyen does not skate competitively, they meet regularly to train together. 

During their individual practice, “we hype each other up,” Nguyen said. His friends have introduced him to other members of the community, providing another opportunity for Nguyen to build his network. 

His two favorite tricks to practice on his skateboard are the “kick-flip,” which involves making the skateboard do a complete flip underneath a jump so the wheels are facing up briefly then return back to the ground,  and the “pop-shove it,” or turning the board 360-degrees underneath a jump so the tail end of the board makes a full circle.

His friends are competitive, but encourage each other to enjoy skateboarding itself as a game.

Inside or outside the classroom, Nguyen will always be learning something new. 

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