Wildfire Program Participant and Vietnam Native Thuy Nguyen Appreciates the “Second Family” She’s Found Through CUPA-HR
March 2, 2018

Six early-career higher education human resources professionals have been immersed for the past several months in all that is CUPA-HR and the profession. From attending CUPA-HR conferences, meetings and other learning events to cultivating relationships with senior higher ed HR leaders and CUPA-HR volunteer leaders to experiencing a “day in the work life” of their mentors and more, the six individuals in CUPA-HR’s 2017-18 Wildfire program have had plenty of opportunities to learn, grow and connect. (If you’re not familiar with the Wildfire program, read all about it!).

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been profiling this year’s Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We’ve already met Drexel King of Baylor University, Christine Roediger of Northland Pioneer College and Heather Butterfield from Viterbo University.

Here, we’ll hear from Thuy Nguyen, HR professional at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.

I began my career in human resources more than a decade ago when I joined the United Nations International School of Hanoi. Back then, HR was still a fairly new concept in Vietnam, and working as an HR professional in an international education setting laid a solid foundation for my HR career and opened the door to other exciting opportunities.

In 2011, I came to the United States and completed my master’s degree in HR management. I then took an HR job and worked for a couple of years in a Fortune 500 technology company before deciding to go back to work in higher ed HR. I learned about CUPA-HR while working as an HR generalist at Metropolitan State University of Denver and got involved with the CUPA-HR salary surveys and compensation benchmarking. I was truly amazed by all the useful resources that CUPA-HR provides to its member institutions.

This month marks my two-year work anniversary at the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. As the main HR contact person for the school, I handle recruitment and onboarding for new employees and manage leaves of absence, payroll and compensation. I also support faculty affairs in the appointment, promotion and tenure process. The most meaningful and rewarding part of my work is helping faculty, staff and student employees with complex HR issues so that they can just focus on their teaching and study.

I applied for the CUPA-HR Wildfire program last year, and was honored to have been selected. At CUPA-HR’s Association Leadership Program (a gathering of the association’s volunteer leaders) in July, I had the chance to meet and mingle with other higher ed HR practitioners and connect with Wildfire program lead Mark Coldren of University at Buffalo and my mentor (and Wildfire program alumna) Kristina Gravellese from Harvard Universitys T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The CUPA-HR annual conference in San Diego last September was really an eye-opening experience for me, and I’m very much looking forward to my campus shadow visit to Boston College in April.

The Wildfire program has been exciting because it offers me the opportunity to connect with campus HR thought leaders, my wonderful Wildfire cohort and other higher ed HR professionals from across the country. It has been an incredible experience! It also helps me build up my confidence and challenges me to aspire higher in my HR profession. Doing the job I’m passionate about and being surrounded by a network of supportive colleagues, I feel that I have found my second family in the U.S. — and home is no longer half the globe away!