Foothill College’s Nicole Nguyen graduated high school in a similar position as most students: community college bound. Her time as a community college student would lead to incredible academic opportunities, including becoming Foothill College’s Student Trustee and getting elected to serve on the California Community College Trustees (CCCT) Board.
Nguyen was determined to make the most of her community college experience and immediately got involved in Foothill’s many academic opportunities, studying psychology and sociology, and certificates of achievement in Data Analytics and Humanities.
Her interest in education and social science led her to become a research assistant at Stanford’s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at the School of Humanities and Sciences. There she conducts research under a Ph.D. candidate, studying Indigenous-supportive structures in higher education institutions worldwide.
Her cousin, Quang Truong, is a Foothill College ‘22 alumnus and told Nguyen about the amazing opportunities that community colleges offer, including involvement in student government. During his time at Foothill, he served on the student senate. She became interested in the student trustee role and spoke to Foothill-De Anza’s previous student trustee, Chamu Palaniappan, to learn more about it.
Along with her research, Nguyen was elected as Foothill College’s student trustee in April. Student trustees are elected students who are seated with trustees at public meetings of the Board and recognized at meetings as full members of the Board for the purpose of questioning witnesses, discussing issues, and making and seconding motions. They are also entitled to an advisory vote, which is used to back the needs of and support students on a districtwide level.
“After speaking with Foothill’s board trustee, I’ve learned that this position is a great privilege and responsibility to give a student’s perspective,” she said. “Serving alongside trustees is nerve-wracking but exciting, and a great learning opportunity. It’s a steep learning curve, but I feel very supported by the board of trustees and our sister school, De Anza’s, student trustee.”
Nguyen is focused on how she can help students’ college experiences, including their basic needs. Foothill-De Anza Community College District conducted a housing study and released its results to date in April this year. In it, it finds that 31 percent of respondents report difficulty finding affordable housing, and 63 percent state that their housing situation has a negative impact on academic pursuits.
“Foothill has been trying to pass a housing resolution for on-campus housing for a few years now,” Nguyen said. “I want to ensure that it’s passed during my term and spark change for the housing system in California Community Colleges.”
When Nguyen applied to serve as the student trustee on the League’s California Community College Trustees (CCCT) Board, she mentioned housing insecurity as part of her application. Nguyen’s selection as 2023-24 CCCT Student Trustee representative was announced at this year’s Student Trustee Workshop in Riverside.
The Community College League of California’s (CCLC) Student Trustee Workshop is an annual three-day training event that gives newly elected student trustees the tools and resources to serve a successful term. This year, over 60 student trustees traveled from community colleges across California to meet in Riverside to learn about fiscal responsibilities, the student trustee role, participatory governance, and more.
“Student Trustee Workshop was so much fun,” said Nguyen. “This was my first conference as a student trustee, and it was amazing to meet others from all over California and draw inspiration from how they are addressing challenges being faced all over the California Community College system. I learned so much about what it means to be a student trustee.”
Currently, Nguyen is applying for transfer after she finishes her second year at Foothill. She plans to take advantage of the college’s Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) and Transfer Admission Program (TAP) programs to apply to the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Photos: Headshot of Nguyen on the Foothill campus, photo with Chancellor Emerita Judy Miner, Nguyen being inducted into her role as Student Trustee at the June Board of Trustees meeting