Dr. Huong Nguyen never expected to end up in social work. She said that when she was growing up in Vietnam in the 1990s, the field of social work didn’t even exist in her country. But after recognizing the social problems around her, she knew she wanted to be involved in community development. At first, that meant going to a university in Vietnam to study economics. From there, her academic journey took her to the US, where she studied mass media and social work. With her PhD in social work from the University of Chicago, she became one of the first people in post-war Vietnam to have a doctoral degree in that field.
Dr. Nguyen’s trans-disciplinary background has prepared her to address social problems from a variety of angles. Using her combined fields, she seeks to create structural change to improve the well-being of vulnerable populations. She also wants to build international social work through globalizing social work education and addressing specific cultural needs and barriers.
Dr. Nguyen tries to reach out to people beyond the field of social work as well. A published author of multiple fiction works, Dr. Nguyen uses her creative writing to raise awareness of societal problems with the hopes of reaching more people, especially those unfamiliar with social work.
Born and raised in Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen received training in foreign trade economics, communication, and social work. One line of her research focuses on how discourses can empower, dis-empower, stigmatize, mobilize or silence people’s thoughts and behaviors. Another line of her research focuses on a Buddhism-inspired approach to mental health services among Asians in the US and America, with special attention to people of Vietnamese origin. In addition, she is interested in international social work and the process of globalizing social work education.