Far From Home, Quynh Doan ’21 Overcomes Difficulties With Positivity

January 26, 2021
By: Guest Contributor


When the campus shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19, Quynh Doan ’21 found herself in a precarious situation. Home is more than 8,500 miles away for the international student from Vietnam, and she had no family in the Worcester area to call upon. Her parents in Vietnam were dealing with their own financial distress due to the pandemic, so they couldn’t provide resources to help.

But Doan, known simply as “Q” around campus, didn’t despair. She relied upon the same resilience that allowed her to successfully adapt to a new country and culture when she arrived in Worcester four years ago. She came with a passion for learning about business, an interest in community service, and a dream of traveling the world.

Doan created a strong support network, starting with the friends she met from all over the world while perfecting her English language skills at Worcester State’s Intensive English Language Institute. The real turning point came when friends introduced her to the student community service group Enactus.

The group’s faculty mentor, Joan Mahoney, Ph.D., professor of business administration, provided the guidance she needed, both in fulfilling community service work and in her educational pathway.

“Enactus is like a second family to me,” she says. “I was always interested in community service and Enactus has allowed me to network, meet other students, and travel to national conferences in Kansas City and Chicago,” she says. Her hard work was acknowledged when she was named a finalist for National Financial Leader of the Year in 2019, and at the virtual conference in 2020.

Through Enactus, Doan taught financial literacy to the men of the Hector Reyes House, a residential program for those recovering from substance use disorders. She also served two years as the Enactus’ fundraising director and is now treasurer and on the executive board. Currently she is working to adapt the financial literacy curriculum to a virtual learning format for the men of Reyes House.

“I was born with business in my blood,” she says, noting her mother is a successful business woman in Vietnam. A business administration major and economics minor, Doan likes numbers and recently discovered an affinity for finance and accounting, thanks to encouragement from Mary Clay, Ph.D., professor of business administration.

Doan is also one of 20 students in the Entrepreneurial Ambassador Program, a new community of students who share a similar entrepreneurial mindset. Funded by a gift from the Esler Family Foundation, the program gives participants the opportunity to brainstorm ideas, support each other, and develop leadership skills. Doan’s team of four is working with a mentor on project to promote an entrepreneurial mindset in students at Worcester State.

Doan’s situation has stabilized since March, in part due to a grant from the Student Emergency Fund that helped her pay her rent, plus several scholarships. She also has an internship at Fairway Mortgage, helping with office duties three days a week.

As for the future, she has been accepted into the 4+1 M.S. in Management program at Worcester State, which would enable her to earn a master’s of science degree with one extra year of study after receiving her undergraduate degree. But she may take a gap year, return home to Vietnam, and then set off for a new adventure in a different country—perhaps somewhere in Europe this time.

“Life is short, and I don’t want to waste any minute. I grew up in a developing country, so I appreciate every opportunity I’ve been given. I know there are many people who are in worse situations than me,” she says. “Thinking positively is what helps me during the difficulty. There were many times I wanted to give up and go back home to my family, but I overcame those hard times and continued my dream, with support from friends and family.”

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