Features

Senior orators

By
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tan Nguyen

Tan Nguyen ’10 is quite the world traveler. The son of tofu-makers in Vietnam, Nguyen won a scholarship to attend high school in Singapore at age 15. Four years later, he was “yanked out of my comfort zone” after being awarded another scholarship to attend Brown.

Though his immersion into American culture and language was “quite intimidating” for Nguyen, he found his place in the Brown community, partly with the help of Professor of Mathematics Thomas Banchoff, for whom Nguyen works as a teaching assistant.

Banchoff is not only Nguyen’s adviser and teacher, but someone he regards as family. Although Nguyen’s parents cannot attend Sunday’s ceremony, he said he is very happy to have his “American grandparents,” — Professor and Banchoff and his wife — with him. Nguyen says Banchoff encouraged him to write a speech for Commencement, nominating him to be a senior orator.

Nguyen’s speech, “Ropewalking”, reminds graduates to keep their heads up, look straight and remain confident in all their endeavors. He was inspired by the “ropewalkers” Brown students might recognize from watching their tightroping adventures between trees on the Main Green. It’s a feat Nguyen said is scary at first, but doable once you get your bearings.

Nguyen is most proud of his involvement with the Vietnamese Students Association, Brown Toastmasters and Buxton International House. He is receiving both a Bachelor of Science in applied math/economics and a master’s degree in economics. He will work with the Breakthrough Collaborative, an academic achievement program for under-served middle schoolers, this summer before heading to Boston in the fall to work at Bain and Company, a global strategy consulting firm.

Tatiana Gellein

Tatiana Gellein ’10 knew she wanted to work in medicine from an early age. When it came time to start looking at colleges, the Seattle native dreamed of attending Stanford and staying true to her West Coast roots.

Then, her college adviser told her about a certain “very liberal” Ivy League institution across the country in Rhode Island. Once the University accepted Gellein into the Program in Liberal Medical Education, which offers Brown undergraduates a spot in the Alpert Medical School, Gellein packed her bags and headed east.

After Gellein delivers her speech on Sunday, she will receive a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. She will be attending Alpert Medical School in the fall, and aspires to later go on to graduate school in public health. She hopes to go into pediatrics or family health, with a long-term goal of creating her own free clinic for low-income families.

Gellein’s speech, entitled “Jonah Lives in Theory,” discusses the ability Brown students possess “to embrace their larger-than-life dreams,” she said, adding that Brown is a place where those big dreams do not die, even in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

Gellein has been an active member of PHASE, instructing Providence high school students in sex education. She is also a member of WORD! — a spoken-word poetry group.