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Mehlville High School senior serious about her desire to change the world

Minh Nguyen is serious about her desire to change the world.

The 18-year-old Mehlville Senior High School senior will study journalism at the University of Missouri. She wants to someday become an international lawyer who fights against the exploitation of people in Third-World countries.

She gained a desire to work on a global scale because her parents, Tan Nguyen and Phi Hoang, struggled in Vietnam before they moved to the United States in 1990.

She blames some of their issues on outside influences and some on Vietnam's Communist government.

"I look at their experiences and I question their government,'' she said. "Why do they do this to their people? Based on their experiences, I decided I needed to do something about what's wrong with the world.''

While she doesn't always agree with exactly how things are done in the United States, she said being here beats the alternative.

"I'm glad they came over,'' Nguyen said of her parents, adding that she's proud of them for overcoming adversity.

Tan, a South Vietnam War veteran, now is a Web page designer who, as Minh put it, "had a lot of bad experiences in Vietnam.'' She calls her mom her "idol'' for working full time and raising four children.

Nguyen has made the most of her opportunities since she came to the United States. She has a 3.83 grade-point average, and scored a 28 on her ACT. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the Drama Club, the National History Club and the German Club, and also has earned the Horatio Alger Scholarship.

Along the way, she has spent countless hours developing her view of the world by working with history teachers and studying in the school library. She does some teaching, too. She has been lecturing her history class on the Vietnam War.

"Even though a lot of Americans thought it was a mistake, I think it was necessary to go there,'' she said. "It was the decision on how to play the war that I don't agree with. The tactics were wrong.''

Nguyen said she appreciates the fact that her teachers didn't penalize her for beliefs some might consider controversial.

Though she doesn't write for the Mehlville school paper, she said she would consider writing for the University of Missouri student paper "if they allow me to write about issues that concern me.''

"I think words can be powerful,'' she said. "I think of journalists as writers of modern history.''

When she isn't writing essays, she's creating posters.

Nguyen has won first place in poster design at the Washington University German Day competition all four years she has entered.

She used words and drawings to show how German can be fun to learn. She also creates art by using watercolors, acrylic paint and oil paint. She sometimes uses them to paint flowers and make cards to give to her friends.

Nguyen said she enjoyed the academic aspects of Mehlville the most.

"I'll miss the library,'' she said. "I spent a lot of time there. And, I'll miss the teachers who helped me develop personally.''

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