Posts Tagged Duylam Nguyen-Ngo

Tons of unfinished thoughts

duylam-85It’s been a long time; way too long. I’ve been thinking about, planning, and have written posts, but I haven’t followed through on execution. And, in large, this is what this post is about.

There are times when things get put off. It’s inevitable with college. Deadlines after deadlines come up. So you push back that lunch with a friend or that book you’ve been meaning to finish. If things get especially hairy, you’ll wait until Monday at 3:00PM to finish your 5:00PM problem set (first hand experience?). The amount of stuff you want to do will continue to grow. It grows exponentially. The amount of time you have is constant. There is and always will be 24 hours in a single day for you to do what you can do.

But I implore you to remember that things put off should always be finished. Take an email response as an example. I’m sure we’ve all done it. Someone emailed you inquiring about xyz. I’ll get to it later today; they don’t need to know xyz right away. Today passes. Tomorrow is today now. Eventually, it continues until you finally respond. And tap and clack of your keyboard feels as if you’re pressing down with a ton of force. That email becomes heavy.

I think that feeling of an email response being heavy comes from the fact that we do want to finish things. And we will. So whatever it is that you do, finish it. Bring closure. Feeling like there are a million things to do means that you haven’t started to even dent your list so start doing, my friends.

Do or do not. There is no try.
- Duylam

Transitioning: B-school to E-school

duylam-85Well, I suppose it’s quite appropriate that this post would be about a fairly large event in my life given that my last post was months ago.

It’s been 3 months since I traded in case studies for problem sets.

Read more of Transitioning: B-school to E-school

I’m alive!!!

duylam-85This what you should do in your summer before starting college: have a freaking blast!

And while you have a freaking blast, make sure you do all of your tedious college stuff. Like enrolling in a payment plan, getting your health insurance straight (Massachusetts has some odd requirements about student health insurance), and adding your roommates on Facebook.

Okay that last one is optional, but if you want a good transition to college, I recommend it. You could get a feel for them. However, take this advice with the caveat that the internet does not always serve as an accurate translation of who a person really is.  You can’t get a feel for a person’s tone, body language, etc.

Ambition is a great thing. Many students will be stars in their schools. And you’ll sacrifice a lot in your pursuit (but when you’re in pursuit sacrifice never seems to feel like sacrifice…it feels more like balance).

As any admissions officer will tell you about any college’s culture, it’s about the balance between work and play.

You’ll have your sleepless nights, days filled with Red Bull and Monster, and getting lost in the stacks because you slept there and woke up not knowing where you are. Seriously, the last one has happened to students everywhere. Okay not seriously, but I feel like it could happen.

Any who, enjoy the summer and maybe try something new so you can have something to tell your roommates in the fall!

Negligence & Cool College Things

duylam-85Dear CSO readers & my blog,

I have fallen short of my aims to update this blog regularly. Perhaps you think I am a ghost and my experience is lackluster. Far from it. Okay, I’m just being a bit dramatic. But seriously, I do feel this tug of pain and guilt getting on this blog after it’s been so long. Well now that, that’s over, I’ve been doing a lot of things since college, as I’m sure my fellow scholars have.

College really opens a lot of doors for you, but this mainly depends on how you spin college. Some people just go to class, go back to their dorm/house, and just chill out, work, or whatever. But some people, go outrageous and join the School Spirit Club, Chi Omega, become a cheerleader, join SGA and become the president, and like just so much stuff. Honestly, I think the only limit on what college offers [academically and extracurriculars] is the extent of your wanting to do things and the imagination you have.

For me, Boston is just a mind blowing place. Amazing architecture, beautiful parks [Boston Commons is amazing], 2 dollar lo mein [check out Chinatown]. It has so much to offer for whatever you need. But there is also MIT, the Cambridge Coworking Center, and 9,120,3801,283 other things. Almost every single day of the week is filled with some sort of technology conference, energy conference, entrepreneurial panel, lecture, seminar, whatever. When I got here, believe that I was deeply moved by it all.

There will be many resources and opportunities that are offered, and trust me when I say you won’t be able to capitalize on all of them. Do as much as you can when you can, and I know for many of us, money can be an issue, but if you have the means to cover expenses I think you should definitely take whatever it is that comes your way. Hey I mean I’m going to New York this weekend to meet 700+ entrepreneurial people [no I really won't meet that many], and I’ll have the chance to present my business concept at the New York Stock Exchange. Not that bad right?

And that’s what college has given me so far, in a nutshell. Amazing people, even better connections, and the best cheapest lo mein I’ve ever eaten.

Big Bro

duylam-85I must say from the get-go I never really had a “mentor” or someone who helped me along the college process, at least not in the strictest sense. And this is true for many first generation students. We just don’t have anyone who takes our hands and shows us the ins and outs of looking for colleges or helps us fill out financial aid or any of that.

CollegeConfidential was my guiding light as far as the whole process goes. Everybody has a different story, but please listen to this one piece of advice: do not not ask for help. When I was beginning my search I just told my mom “Yeah, yeah, I got this, don’t worry. I got everything down.” Well sure I thought I had everything down, but now that I’m in college I’ve talked to more admission officers and financial service officers, and I regret not asking for help.

Yes, I know you have no questions, everything seems pretty straight forward. Red buzzer. Did you know you could go back and appeal for larger financial aid package? If you get into multiple schools, and the one you reaaaaaaaaallllllllyyyy want to get into does not offer the package you can afford, you should try appealing for a larger package.

That’s just one thing you learn once you start talking to people who have been through the college process before. And you know what? I know you don’t have questions, but maybe you should talk to someone anyways. Just ask: hey so what was applying for college like for you? Or my friends’ and my personal favorite, what goodies do you got in that college bag? Hah we don’t really talk like that.

The point being is that you should just get a feel for what has been done, what has succeeded in getting more aid, acceptance, etc, and what has not succeeded. If you’re stuck in an area where not a lot of people have gone to college, you should just go up to your guidance counselor, and ask them about their experience. That’s what I did, and I really love my high school counselor. She was the one who told me about CSO in the first place.

As I’ve said, I never had anyone really tell me what to do or how to do anything as far as college. This is good and bad. Good because I have had the freedom to do what I want and there is nothing like staying up until 1am looking at colleges with your buddies. Bad because I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

*** I just got a text from my good friend, David Ngo. He has midterms right now and his text couldn’t have been any better for right now. “Gotta dig deep and find the source of strength and see [life] from a bigger perspective.” What’s the bigger perspective for you?

What I mean is what is the reason you’re doing what you are doing? Why go to college? For a better future? Yes that is the answer, but why do you want the better future? Simon Sinek asked me the same thing and it is something worth asking yourself…

Whatever the reason, there is, as I have come to find out, a person or people behind the reason. My mom was the biggest factor in me coming to college. Her story is a bit too intimate for me to share so publicly, but I’ll talk about the theme that is universal to most, if not all, first generation students.

The weight that is put on your shoulders is a weight that many first generation students feel. I dare not call it a burden, but rather a 1000 ton brick on your back. And that is why we do what we do. Because we love our families, because they expect so much from us,  because we expect so much from ourselves, as the forerunners for wealth in the future generations,  this is what fuels our passion.

I may be generalizing way too much, forgive me if I am. I may sound corny, but this is coming right from my soul [this sounds pretty corny looking back]. If you have more reasons as to why you strive so hard or have someone special who has motivated you feel free to put it down in digital form!

Unlike this post, do not be super late with your FAFSA form

duylam-85I think the post title sums it all up, hah.

I am tempted to make a Vlog, like my fellow scholar, and perhaps I will ride his coat tails later on.

But that is the biggest tip I can tell you. You should definitely check out your schools’ deadlines just to make sure you’re on point. You can find out most dates on the FAFSA website, but you may have to go to your school’s website.

I just recently filled out my FAFSA. Not as daunting as it seems anymore. So don’t stress your first time around. Or maybe it’s just me. But the FAFSA is much easier now because they’ve added hints and the like, also read thoroughly. I was about to fill out this one section about my mom’s assets and I called Babson just to check if they need that part, and they didn’t. So just be patient with what you’re doing so you can save yourself time and a headache later.

Hah, not much I can say about the FAFSA I think. Government Aid is nice, but it doesn’t cover it all. And don’t think about school as an expense. It is an investment in your future.

Also here is a blog you should definitely check out – Cal Newport’s Study Hacks – just a little light reading for you now that your apps are done.

Our work is never over

duylam-85I was going to keep some of the more major things I’ve been doing at college under wraps, but in light of a series of events that have occured back home I feel the need to stop being so abstract and “wise man” like and show maybe proof that the sky’s the limit regardless of “this, that, and the third”. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m gloating…but I am. Just kidding, hah.

So maybe we should kick it off with my high school year.

January 1st passed, just like you guys now, all my applications are done and I’m feeling overly relieved. Between my schools it was a whole bunch of business schools: Washington & Lee, Uni. of Virginia, Uni. of Richmond, and Babson. And then there was the Rhode Island School of Design. I know!! Complete 180 from all of the schools I’ve applied too, but that was my sort of crazy, not-secure school that I would go to if I decided to pursue my more creative dreams.

Well the rest is history as they say, but it’s actually more like a long story I’m going to explain in my blog.

I never went to RISD as you know, hah, I was too scared to follow that route, but to serve as a medium I went to Babson, which I thought would be nice because Boston is right there and a big city means big opportunities. Oh good lord I forget to mention that at that time and currently still, I was/am passionate [is that too corny of a word to use?] industrial design/product design. Industrial design is basically the creation of new products. Some of your favorite companies have a huge emphasis on design: Apple, BMW, Fender, etc. You get the gist.

Right anyway, so I’m all gung-ho about design so I email the professor, Sebastian Fixson, in charge of this really cool class at Babson called Product Design & Development. So I email him once I decided on going to Babson. We remained in correspondence all throughout the summer, and after the first week of college I email him again and we set up a time to just talk about everything. So I meet him and I’m trying to exude my passion as much as possible, and let me remind you meeting him was a HUGE thing for me – I had already planned on sitting in on his PDD class. Anyways we talk about everything and he offers me a seat in the course!!! This just put a smile upon my face because even though I wouldn’t get credit I would learn something, which I did, and I also created a few important relationships. Right also this course was a 3 school joint program with Babson College for business, Olin College for engineering, and the Rhode Island School of Design – HOW COOL THAT EVERYTHING COMES BACK 360 [actually I knew about the class before I came].

Check out more from the class here

Anyways I sit in on the class and [this part always makes me laugh] it’s full of 3rd years & 4years and I introduced myself and I said I was a 1st year at Babson and I picked business over RISD and they all laughed at me. Woot! So I sit in on other classes and I even got to go to RISD, which is absolutely beautiful by the way, and I met a man named Tim Prestero of Design That Matters. A quick aside, DTM is a non-profit that produces products that are actually of use to people in 3rd world countries such as medicial devices.

Tim had this really interesting project where students would be making a phototherapy unit to help fight hyperbilirubinemia/jaundice in newborns [you can find out more here and click around that is only one type of HB]. If there are any parents, you know how this works. The jaundiced baby/baby with hyperbilirubinemia is placed under a blue light [yes blue light is all it takes] and in a few days the problem is gone. Well this project was of particular interest to me because it was to be made in Vietnam and first implemented in Vietnam, my home country. As you know, Vietnam is not so rich, and the best phototherapy units, such as the neoBlue, cost up to $10,000 USD. Yeah that’s not working for a third world country.

I approached Tim and we exchanged information and I email him a few days later seeing how I could help even though I was a first year. He then directed to the Babson MBA graduate students who were working on this. I emailed them, and then I met Shilpi Gupta, Molly McDonald, Lara Clemenzi, Rahul Bhansali, & Prakash Bhatia the students on the project. We met over the course of the semester and worked on a design that would fit the culture [even my mom helped!]. Well long story short, the final product matched the best phototherapy unit on the market, the neoBlue, on output and the product lasts, about, 10,000 hours. And guess what? The creation of the product only takes $400 USD. Labour expenses will raise the cost of the unit once it starts becoming manufactured in Vietnam, HOWEVER, everything should remain will under $1000 USD. Also, by the time the product was in the design fair at Babson, there were already 300 orders for it.

Here are photos:

This is Praks with our baby. And our finished design.

I am completely honored to have worked with these people, they are nothing short of amazing. Something major come from practically nothing. Even if you’ve got a million to one shot, you’ve still got a shot.

The most powerful weapon on Earth is the human soul on fire” – Ferdinand Foch,


duylam-85This is post is going to be a McFlurry of things – just a heads up.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine at Babson, Alex, and he told me he wanted to transfer to Stanford or USC [both in his home state]. But he said “Man, but I may just give up on Stanford, my GPA isn’t high enough for it.” He has a 3.67 or a 3.7 – pretty good for a first year. Anyway.

Now I’m back home in good ol’ Virginia and I was talking to my good friend, David, who actually goes to Stanford. We talked about this, that, and the third – we had a lot of college stuff to catch up on. I finally asked him though about the whole GPA, test scores, etc thing and what it meant to Admissions @ Stanford [and I believe this is the same for all top tier schools]. He said that all of the good stats are super fantastic and it does help a lot, but he said that especially for Stanford, it is all about the passion. The passion you have for whatever it is that you do and it is about showing that passion through your essays. Now don’t quote me for every school, but I think it’s safe to say that it is the same for all schools. Maybe my fellow scholars can enlighten on it.

So convey passion. Make your essays exude the sweat, blood, and tears you’ve shed over the years. Easier said than done I know, but a key, as you probably already have heard, to conveying it is through an example of your life. It’s too easy to just say “I want to be the best”, instead show them it!

Anna Ivey even agrees upon this principle of conveying passion as a key to admission to law schools. But regardless of which school, undergrad or grad, passion is the key.

Here are some law school essay examples of how NOT to write. I figure if I give an example of what SHOULDN’T be done then there will be more space for your own style instead of following what is a good essay.

Bad Law School Essays

I would now leave off with a quote from Atlas Shrugged, but stupid me I forgot to mark the page with the quote – it was from Hank Rearden – but it went something like: “What he feared most was not those that oppose him, but losing the ability of motion, of not wanting to take action.”

Merry Christmas,

Yeah it’s a bit past T-Day..

duylam-85…but I don’t think any of us needs a day to give thanks. I must say I am thankful for all things here – from my freedom of speech to the fact that my mom calls me every day [yes every day haha].

I would shed some light on my past and tell you why I’m thankful for this that and the third, but today I ran across a Wall Street Journal article about an Iranian-American, dissenting against Iran, who got an anonymous email saying that his family would be harmed if he did not stop producing slanderous material against Iran. 2 days later his mother called and security had arrested his father and told her that the young Iranian-American, Koosh, would not be able to safely return to Iran.

Iranian Protest

Iranian Protest

Iranian Crackdown Goes Global – WSJ article

Everything in my life, regardless of whether it is “bad” or “good”, I am thankful for. This article just proves to me once more that the grass I stand on is as green as it can get. Happy Holidays everyone.

Viva la vida,