Student Spotlight: Van Nguyen builds leadership through SLA

‘You can always do what you want to do if you believe in yourself’

An artist at heart, a dreamer in life, his hobbies include sketching, photography, writing and listening to people’s stories. Van Nguyen is a student at the general arts and science program at George Brown College (GBC).

A shy but fun-loving person Nguyen said that he always had trouble making connections and talking to people.

“Growing up it was really hard to make connections because I was scared of talking to people but then I realized that it is a learning process and being in school gave me an opportunity to interact with diverse people and become better at it,” he said.

Now Nguyen is actively involved with Student Leadership Academy (SLA) at GBC, is an executive of a student leadership club and a volunteer at various college wide events like orientation for winter 2016.

“It is when I got this opportunity in SLA where we go as leaders and get involved in leadership activities that I realized my journey began,” he said. Nguyen beleives that anyone can become a leader by believing in themselves.

Coming from a family where he has had to face various financial challenges, Nguyen never lost faith in his dreams and never gave up on pursuing his creativity as a career.

“In high school I always thought about how can I create an impact in the world, what do I want to do in life and why am I here…like all other philosophical questions,” he said. General arts interested him as he was looking for a field where he can put his creativity and curiosity to work.

As a child Nguyen always had the question that almost every teenager thinks of, “what do I want to do in life?”

He realized that in order to find the reason of his being and what good can he do to the world, he has to start somewhere. The SLA program gave him an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone, interact with different people, build leadership skills and helped him focus on what he wanted from life.

“You can always do what you want to do if you believe in yourself,” said Nguyen.

As a teenager some people used to discourage him by saying that he couldn’t do something. The way he dealt with that was by continuously giving himself positive feedback and remembering the things pushed him forward.

A quote by Jim Carrey has always inspired him, “You will only have one of two choices, love or fear. Choose love, and don’t let fear go against your playful heart.”

In high school, Nguyen was more concerned about global issues, financial issues and social issues unlike the other students at his school which was another reason he felt isolated.

“But when I came to George Brown, I realized that you can speak your heart out here. You can speak to your professor, you can speak to other people who have a perspective and learnings where they came from and where they have gone to,” said Nguyen.

“I wasn’t really involved in campus activities before coming to George Brown. But after getting involved here I found out that you get the opportunity to meet such diverse people, build connections with them and hear their stories and learn something new from them.”

And if you don’t get involved you are missing an opportunity to experience the journey those experiences could have taken you on.

​Do you know a student who has been active in the GBC community? Email us at with the subject line “Student Spotlight” and we might feature them in an upcoming issue.


Student Spotlight: Van Nguyen builds leadership through SLA