Clifton resident and Robinson Secondary School graduate Anna Nguyen has been selected to be a Fulbright scholar. The Fulbright Program is the premier international educational exchange program, offering grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States.
Nguyen, 21, was selected for the Fulbright grant to research cancer stem cells in malignant bone and soft tissue tumors at a laboratory in Switzerland for a year starting in August.
“When I heard, I was completely ecstatic,” Nguyen said. “My dad was crying, it was just a great feeling, especially with all the support I had from the professors. I felt so excited.”
Nguyen is now a senior at Loyola University in Maryland. She first became interested in medicine at age 12, when her father was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“During that whole process I was really concerned about my father,” Nguyen said. “After he was diagnosed, I wanted to understand his disease more. That’s really what got me interested in biology.”
Nguyen’s dad survived his bout with cancer, and his daughter’s interest in medicine remained. When she started college, she began volunteering at the medical intensive care unit at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and for the aftercare program at a Catholic elementary school in Baltimore.
In 2010, Nguyen interned at the Natural and Medical Sciences Institute in Reutlingen, Germany, through an exchange program.
“That was my first research experience and I really enjoyed it,” Nguyen said.
One of her professors, Arthur M. Sutherland, helped guide her through the application process for her fellowships. She started applying for the Fulbright program at this time last year.
“I drafted a proposal with a sponsor and so I worked with my application until October,” Nguyen said. “It was a long process but a rewarding one.”
Nguyen will be working at the University of Lausanne with a research team in the Institute of Pathology. Her project is part of a larger ongoing initiative to study how the particular cancer stem cells emerge that constitute the driving force of malignant tumors.
Nguyen’s professor stated, "The research she intends to do will make a significant contribution to her field. Her project has weight, meaning, and is within the reach of a student with Anna's insight, determination, and drive."
When she returns from the yearlong program, Nguyen will be applying to medical schools.
“What I’ve taken from this experience is that I’m extremely grateful,” Nguyen said. “The process helped put in focus my plans for the future.”
The Fulbright exchange program is named for the late J. William Fulbright, who was a U.S. senator from Arkansas from 1945 to 1975 and the longest-serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.