Diep Xuan Nguyen '98 and his older sisters and brother emigrated by boat from Vietnam when he was about 5 years old. His family first settled in Iowa, and then moved to Massachusetts when Diep was still a young boy.
Initially he did not speak English, but teachers who truly believed in Diep guided and encouraged him. Now a kindergarten teacher in Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, Diep chose a career in education to help children experience that same inspiration and support.
"I want to bring out the best in my students and engage them by making learning fun," he said. "I have to find what motivates and drives my students."
At Wheelock, Diep learned not just how to bring out the best in his students, but to bring out the best in himself.
Though the skills and knowledge he acquired as an early childhood education major gave him the tools to teach children, Diep's experiences as part of the Wheelock community had an even more profound impact on why he continues to do so.
"I chose to come to Wheelock because of its reputation for excellence in education," he said. In addition, "Wheelock's small classes allowed your professors to know you by name."
At Wheelock, Diep discovered that "everyone can learn and have a chance to succeed."
"There isn't one way to teach a student," he affirmed. "I build upon what each student knows best to bring him or her to the next level."
Beyond the classroom, Wheelock's community-oriented culture was in synch with Diep's values and goals. "All of my friends wanted to make a difference in the life of a child," he said. "And we learned that though we may have different backgrounds and lifestyles, all are deserving of respect."
This environment helped Diep learn his most important lessons, "compassion, patience, perseverance, and to always do my best to serve others," he said.
"At the end of the day, I feel proud that I am helping to create a better world for children."