A Scholar & Mentor: Learning How to Learn from Dr. Yum Nguyen

If you ask, Dr. Anh-Dung “Yum” Nguyen will tell you. Growing up, he never thought he would be a professor.

Yet here he is, teaching and mentoring High Point University students with an unrivaled passion for developing young minds.

Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen came to America with his mom and six siblings shortly after the Vietnam War. Today, he’s an associate professor of athletic training in the Congdon School of Health Sciences at HPU. He teaches hands-on, practical courses where students learn how to evaluate injuries, and theory-based classes on applied biomechanics and neuromuscular concepts.

His ultimate goal is for students to develop an intellectual curiosity. To transform them into lifelong learners and “teach students how to think,” as he puts it.

It’s easy to see why he was named the 2016 Educator of the Year by the North Carolina Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Nguyen has been published nearly 70 times in sports medicine papers, book chapters and scientific abstracts. Because of that, he’s a champion of undergraduate research — something that sets HPU students apart from an ocean of other applicants for jobs or grad schools.

“Our students present their research at invitation-only, national and international conferences every year,” says Nguyen. “They present side-by-side with the same people they reference in their abstract or project. You can’t get that in the classroom alone. To hear from professional colleagues who compliment the level of research our students are doing — particularly at the undergraduate level — is very rewarding.”

Take senior Emma Zuk, for example.

As Nguyen’s research assistant, Zuk has spent nearly three years side-by-side Nguyen in the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Laboratory, uncovering the relationship between hip function and knee injuries. They’re investigating risk factors for ACL injuries in youth athletes, one of the most common sports injuries.

Yum Nguyen 2Zuk has presented their findings at numerous conferences across the country.

“Emma’s story has been one of our program’s biggest accomplishments,” says Nguyen. “To have a student co-present with me at a high level conference is a testament to her desire to excel and confirmed that my role as an educator is paying off.”

“Dr. Nguyen is truly the embodiment of an extraordinary educator,” says Zuk. “He has the unique ability to see the potential in someone far before they see it in themselves. While helping me complete my many presentations, Dr. Nguyen once told me, ‘We are working on impactful research.’ How many undergraduate students can say that they are a part of something so significant?”

Because of Nguyen, she can.


Emma Zuk Yum Nguyen pull quote

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