Moon Nguyen

Moon Nguyen, ’23 economics and political science, is the 2023 recipient of the Social Sciences Alumni Academic Excellence Scholarship. The honor recognizes students for outstanding academic performance and service to the School of Social Sciences, UCI campus and community and carries a $1,000 prize. Born in Saigon, Vietnam and the first in her family to attend college, Nguyen shares below her secret for finding success at UCI.

How did you decide on UCI for your academic studies, and what interests you most about your major?

I’ve always been curious about global politics and international relations. I started studying IR in community college and wanted to also learn about economics as a minor. I chose UCI because the curriculum and pace at UCI allowed me to do just that. As I took more classes in economics, I became more interested in the field and decided to turn my minor into a second major. It is the combination of learning new things and applying the methodologies and skills that most interest me about the two fields and doing research.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?

My biggest accomplishment at UCI came during this last year when I joined the Economics Honors Program with the Department of Economics and got to develop my own project and do my own research. Using my project, I applied and received funding from UROP for my honor thesis. I also received an internship placement with the SAGE Program and a SAGE Scholarship that comes with the internship placement.

What activities have you been involved with on campus?

I am an active scholar with the SAGE Scholar Program and served as an ambassador for the SAGE Scholar Program in 2021-22. I also volunteered for the UCI Basic Needs Hub.

Tell us a bit about your research. What does your honors thesis explore?

I’ve been involved in research at UCI since 2021. From fall 2021-22, I was an RA within the Bilingualism, Mind, and Brain Lab within UCI School of Education. Since July 2022, I’ve been working as an RA for my honor thesis advisor and on my honor thesis. My thesis investigates the selection of officials in the judiciary system of England and Wales.

Who has played an important mentorship role in your life thus far and why?

Of course my thesis advisor, professor Daniel Bogart in the Department of Economics, has been an important mentor for my research experience and academic pursuit. He always encourages and pushes me to think and do more with my research by asking difficult questions, giving critical but constructive feedback, and most importantly, always being present.

When do you plan to finish your degree and what are your plans thereafter?

I will finish my degree in June and I am looking for opportunities in doing more research in economics and policy. I am also planning to apply for graduate programs.

What challenges or hurdles have you faced in getting to where you are today?

I think being a first-generation immigrant and overcoming many periods of self-doubt and imposter syndrome really shape how I view my accomplishments and my journey. Finding a good and supportive mentor and peers is very important to helping me overcome these challenges and understand my capabilities.

What’s your best memory from your undergraduate experience at UCI?

I have so many great memories at UCI that I can’t pinpoint one that I think is the best.

Where can you most often be found on campus?

I mostly circle around the area from the social sciences buildings to ALP. Sometimes I take a walk or sit in Aldrich Park, enjoying the California sun.


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