The Honors Living Learning Community (LLC) in Bridgman Hall has thrived for nearly a decade, growing along with the Honors Program. No one knows it quite like Trung Nguyen. At the time of his graduation in December 2019 with degrees in both accounting and economics, as well as a minor in finance, Trung has lived in Bridgman and participated in the LLC as an Honors Resident Assistant (RA) for a grand total of four and a half years. “It’s really cool being able to see everyone start off… and being able to be that mentor, that leader.” As Trung experienced, both RA’s and mentees benefit from LLC’s through gaining leadership experience and mentorship.
The Honors LLC has been in operation since the fall of 2011. As one of his first actions, the now Director of Housing Quincy Chapman, started establishing LLCs on campus. Because the Honors community was so strong and present, it was a perfect choice for one of the first established LLCs. The Honors LLC started with just 33 students but soon grew to nearly 90 students a few short years later. Each semester, students hired as Living Learning Programmers (LLPs) and voted onto Bridgman’s Hall Council organize events for the students in Bridgman Hall from cookies and cocoa to the iconic kazoo band during the Homecoming parade. Trung experienced the strength of this community during his first year and it stayed with him, leading him to become an essential leader of the LLC.
Trung’s journey to becoming an integral part of Bridgman Hall didn’t come as naturally as one would expect. It was only during his second semester in Bridgman and after joining the Honors Program, Trung started to get involved with the hive of activity around him. “The Honors Program really jump-started everything for me.” Trung initially wasn’t offered an RA position when he first applied at the end of his first year because of how little he was involved in housing and student life. He didn’t let that stop him though. He spoke to the Bridgman Hall Director, who had knowledge of the system, and after becoming more involved, he landed the position. This led to his further dedication to the LLC and to making it the best it could be. Dedication and influence are a two-way street and Trung is certain his life would have played out differently if he didn’t make the decision to pursue the RA position beyond the initial rejection.
The Honors experience doesn’t end with the LLC and opportunities for scholarship and mentorship abound. Trung’s first Honors course remains one of his favorites because of the instructor, then Honors Director Jeff Vahlbusch. Of course, the class content was interesting as well, focusing on Plato and Dante’s writings, but what Trung remembers vividly four years later is the mentorship he found in Vahlbusch. “He was a fantastic man and I miss him quite a lot. Having him being a mentor and a positive role model really helped me figure out where I wanted to go and how to get there.” The quality he appreciated most was Vahlbusch’s ability to “[understand] how to talk to a person and make them feel like the most important person in the world.”
The desire to give others what he received from Vahlbusch inspired Trung to become more involved with both the Honors LLC and Honors 100, the introductory course every incoming Honors student must take. Teaching people how to be comfortable in a new environment was paramount for him. Through his work in those two experiences, Trung made it happen. Through dedicating himself to service and mentorship to others, he has left a lasting impact on the Honors LLC and the Honors community.
After becoming such an integral part of that community, students and faculty alike are sad to see Trung go. All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. After graduation this December, Trung will be starting a job with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause in Minneapolis, an opportunity that arrived unexpectedly as without an internship in the field, he had expected an uphill battle when job searching. “It was very humbling, for sure.” More than anything, he’s looking forward to the future.
“After this, the rest of life begins.”