Interview with Ellie Nguyen, Outstanding Senior in CCI Award Recipient

For over 25 years Chapman University Board of Trustees member David Henley and Mrs. Ludie Henley have partnered with the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to sponsor the Annual Henley Social Sciences Awards Ceremony to celebrate and acknowledge the top academic students within the departments of History, Peace Studies, Political Science, and Sociology. For the first time this Spring 2022, the ceremony will also recognize a selection of outstanding students from the Wilkinson College Interdisciplinary Minors, of which I had the honor of speaking with this year’s CCI nominee, Ellie Nguyen.

Graduation Photo of Ellie Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Ellie Nguyen

A student with intriguing and diverse interests, Ellie is matriculating with a major in Public Relations & Advertising; a Creative & Cultural Industries minor; and as a University Honors Program graduate. Ellie has also served as the president of the Chapman University Korean American Student Association and has worked as the Social Media Chair for Chapman Twilight (a K-Pop dance team here on campus). She will be recognized at the Henley Awards as the Outstanding Senior for the Creative and Cultural Industries Minor and is the CCI nominee for the Dean’s Office Award for Excellence in the Interdisciplinary Minors, of which the award winner will be announced at the ceremony this Thursday, May 12th.

At Chapman, undergraduates are encouraged to combine majors and minors in diverse fields of study – and with 50 different majors and 60 minors to choose from, the combinations are endless. Ellie chose CCI as her minor her freshman year because she believed it could help her better understand her major and give her a unique perspective into different topics that her Public Relations concentration didn’t cover, and vice versa. As part of the minor, Ellie took CCI 304: Creative and Cultural Industries in Practice with Dr. Jamie Larkin, in Spring 2020. In the class she was provided with the opportunity to work with the Heritage Museum of Orange County where she was tasked with profiling the Vietnamese-American community in Orange County. She explained that this project was really meaningful to her because it introduced her to the Vietnamese-American community in the area and assisted her in identifying the needs of the community and in what ways they could be better served.

Fast forward to her senior year, Ellie said that the synergy between her major and minor greatly influenced her decision to attend graduate school and pursue a Masters degree in International Affairs At San Diego State University. She explained that while her public relations program taught her to manage the relationships between organizations, stakeholders, and the public, her CCI minor inspired her to look behind the scenes and question the different policies and regulations across different creative and cultural industries. From there she found the curiosity to learn more about public policy, especially in the creative and cultural industries in her home country of Vietnam.

Looking back at her decision to pick up CCI as her minor, she said that she, “100% recommends it to everyone because it is very broad but not in the sense that it tries to cover everything, instead it caters to a lot of different majors and interests.” She explains that “as a PR and Ad major I have gained a lot of value out of CCI and my friends who are graphic design, business, and even computer science majors have expressed that the combination between their academic concentrations and CCI have helped to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.”

Photo (Left): Ellie receiving her outstanding senior in CCI award from Wilkinson Associate Dean Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa

Photo (Middle): Ellie posing with her award.

Photo (Right): Ellie with her fellow Interdisciplinary minor Award winners, with program directors Dr. Blaser, Professor Magliola, Dr. Allen, Dr. Espinoza, and Associate Dean Takaragawa

Photos courtesy of Shannon Halverson.

The overall Dean’s award for outstanding interdisciplinary minor was split between Sage Okolo and Ramya Sinha. Photo Courtesy of Shannon Halverson.

When asked how she reacted when she found out she had been selected as the CCI nominee for the Award for Excellence in the Interdisciplinary Minors, Ellie said that she, “was 100% surprised” and explained that it is always “a nice feeling when the people you respect and look up to also recognize your effort and hard work.” When speaking with Creative and Cultural Industry faculty however, it was clear that Ellie made quite an impression, leaving little doubt as to her nomination. Dr. Jamie Larkin noted, “In the classes she has taken within the Center for CCI, Ellie has critically analyzed a variety of creative industries, with a particular focus on their role in the production of contemporary cultural discourses, particularly surrounding the construction of national and ethnic identities. She is an exemplary student. Her work is of a consistently high standard and is characterized by critical aptitude and practical engagement. Outside of the classroom, Ellie has taken significant steps to complement her studies by gaining practical experience. In the early stages of the pandemic she took a semester sabbatical and returned to Vietnam to work in the television industry. In this role, she informed me, she was able to critically appraise the television programs she helped to produce using key concepts we analyzed in class. Moreover, Ellie is currently completing an internship with Global Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts, a Paris-based NGO. Ellie has been an exemplary student and we wholeheartedly support her nomination for this award.

Looking toward the future, Ellie said she’s excited about the ability to combine Public Relations and CCI concepts while building a career in the public sector and looked forward to attending the Henley Social Sciences Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 12th. We want to once again congratulate Ellie on her hard work and outstanding contribution to the CCI minor and are honored to have her join the illustrious ranks of our outstanding CCI Alumni who are doing meaningful things all over the world.

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