Interview: A chat with VP Dao '11
Why did you choose to apply to this prestigious award, the Carrol Fellows Initiative? What would it mean to you in terms of your future career and personal development?
Tyler Eldridge ’09, who is a Carroll Fellow himself, told me about the program. I read more about it, and thought that it would be a great opportunity for me to challenge myself further at Georgetown.
What have you learned so far in the program - being a research assistant in the Library of Congress? What specifically are your obligations as a research assistant?
My research assistant position at the Library of Congress is separate from the class I am taking with the CFI—although I did receive it through the CFI-Kluge Center partnership. In the Carroll Fellows Forum, I have learned some important research skills. We are also talking about “thinking in the round”—thinking about issues from all angles and through all lenses, constantly aware of the biases built into our perspectives.
At the Library of Congress, I am working for Morton Kondracke (look him up). At the moment, most of my work centers on finding materials for Mr. Kondracke, both from online databases and from the Library’s Manuscript Division. He is doing research on Jack Kemp, one of the most important Republican politicians in the twentieth century.
How have your experiences at Loomis helped you character-wise? How has Loomis helped you with gaining the knowledge and skills needed to achieve this amazing award? Who at Loomis would you attribute this achievement to and why?
In all honesty, every class I took at Loomis contributed to the abilities I have today. Loomis helped me in many ways with my critical thinking and my writing, and introduced me to doing research. In several classes, not just Scando’s class (although his is certainly the famous—or infamous—one), the teachers really challenged me to think deeply about the questions in front of me, rather than just play with them at the surface. Math and science classes helped me think more logically, as well as quantitatively.
All four of my English teachers—Mr. Marchetti sophomore year, Mrs. Grinspan for Writing workshop, Mrs. Moos junior year, and Scando senior year—did wonders for my writing skills, and I owe so much of my achievements to them. I learned to deliver my arguments not only with with force, but also with grace.
Research, of course, is a key feature in the CFI. AP US History with Mr. Williams taught me how to do research, with primary sources, footnotes, a bibliography, and the whole set. I cannot overstate the advantage this gave me over many of my classmates, knowing how to do rudimentary research as a freshman.
Back in Vietnam, would you say your experiences in your previous high school before Loomis contributed to your current success in any significant manner? Or did those experiences provide you more incentive to achieve more? Did your background help you achieve success in Georgetown just as in Loomis?
I think my overall experience as an international student has given me a diverse perspective on the issues I come into contact with. I have come to appreciate the fact that most, if not all, issues are multifaceted, and that I must be thorough when examining any of them.
How would you describe your transition from Loomis to Georgetown so far? Did it remind you in some way of how you first came to the Island?
My transition to Georgetown has been relatively “painless” so far. This year I am on the freshman crew team as a coxswain. I staffed a model UN conference in February as well. I am running for a seat on the School of Foreign Service Academic Council for next year. I am now on the Senior Staff for NAIMUN (the North American Invitational Model United Nations)—Georgetown’s MUN conference for high schools. This is the 50th aniversary for NAIMUN, so this whole venture will be very exciting.
Can you talk about your work with VietAbroader?
I’ve been working with them at their conferences in various capacities. Right now, I’m on the member relations board of the VietAbroader Executive Team. My board is tasked with finding new ways to provide service and assistance to our members, in line with our mission to “empower Vietnamese youth.”
Any thoughts, comments, advice for current Loomis students? Or teachers?
I’d say that Scando’s modus operandi of “drowning his students” in work worked out well for me in the end.
On a serious note though, BE YOUR BEST SELF.