Nghi P Dang
Nghi’s story begins in Vietnam, 1998. At the age of three, her parents made the decision to move to the United States – a country far from home, where they didn’t even speak the language. Seeking a better education for their children, Nghi and her family moved to sunny San Diego in 2001.
When they immigrated to the United States, they found it difficult to afford many of the basic necessities, and were forced to rely on welfare for many years. Nghi remembers walking everywhere when she was a kid, because they couldn’t even afford money for the bus. Nghi didn’t have much growing up, but her parents always made sure to get her everything she needed despite the financial strain they were being put through. Her mother got straight to work, cleaning houses and offices. Her father worked as a restaurant cook. However, as a child Nghi never really understood that her family was “poor” until she physically counted the number of toys she had growing up – she could count them all on one hand, and all of them were donated. Despite this, her parents always strived their best to give her and her brother a good childhood. She noted that “without these experiences, I don’t think I would have the same values as I do today.”
When Nghi was in 9th grade her advisory teacher (Mrs. Mak) mentioned A Bridge for Kids to her, and told her that she could benefit greatly from a sponsorship. Nghi applied, and we were moved by her story. When Nghi’s sponsorship began, she initially thought that she would just get a mentor and a sponsorship to fund school supplies, but as many of you know we do, and did, much more. With Nghi’s sponsorship, her first purchase was a pair of reading glasses. She was also provided with a laptop for schoolwork. She said, “these may seem mundane as purchases, but they helped me greatly in school. My family did not have money to buy me good reading glasses and this purchase truly improved the quality of my life at the time. In addition, the laptop was the first big item I could call my own. I used this laptop throughout all four years of high school, so it has seen many college applications, scholarships, and schoolwork.” Nghi mentioned that while the things she was now able to afford were nice, A Bridge for Kids gave her something much more valuable: “A Bridge for Kids gave me a community with like-minded people who are always willing to help one another. It has also given me support for the past 9-10 years, which I did not expect.”
Nghi is currently in her first year of her Master of Public Health (MPH) program at UC San Diego in the Technology and Precision Health concentration. She worked as a Community Food Coordinator at UC San Diego’s Center for Community Health, where she focused on improving and advocating for health equity within the food system. She is also serving as a Resident Leader on the Alliance Healthcare Foundation Innovation Initiative (i2) Review Board. In the next few years, Nghi plans to grow professionally and personally. She said that she can see herself seeking out more opportunities where she can leverage technology to address healthcare inequities. We can’t wait to see how Nghi will impact the world, and how far she will go. We have no doubt that she will go on to be influential in whatever field she pursues.