“Let’s talk about you first,” he said.
I had a strong sense of the type of person Plattsburgh State senior Toan Duc Le is before I could even press the record button on my QuickVoice app.
Duc Le has a strong interest in people, be they his peers, mentors or professors.
To Duc Le, the meaning of life is to love, laugh and make the people around him happy, and just spending a couple of hours with him, it’s hard to not be happy.
There’s a certain quiet charm about Duc Le, a magnetic pull that makes you feel as though you’ve known him your whole life but, at the same time, makes you want to know him better.
Economics and Finances Assistant Professor Kameliia Petrova, Duc Le’s favorite professor, agreed.
“There’s a natural gravitation toward him,” she said. “He has this personality and a positive attitude toward everything that makes you want to be around him.”
An international student from South Vietnam, Duc Le credits the diversity in population as his favorite campus feature.
“I love the diversity here,” he said. “I’m able to learn and grow and be my whole self and have made lifelong connections from many different groups of people.”
In Vietnamese, “Toan” translates to “perfect.” So his parents set the bar pretty high for him at birth.
He certainly hasn’t let them down.
Duc Le is majoring in economics as well as finance, has numerous scholarships, is a member of two honor societies, co-founder of V-Nation, PSUC’s Vietnamese Student Association, is a resident assistant in Banks Hall and a brother of Phi Mu Delta fraternity.
Apart from his academic achievements, Duc Le works on the admissions panel for prospective students, acts a campus tour guide and is on the dining advisory committee.
He said it is the United States education system that allows him to be involved in so many things.
Vietnam is a highly populated Asian country that causes intense competition in its schools. Duc Le also said that education in Vietnam focuses more on theoretical methods, rather than the practical, real-world application our colleges offer.
Duc Le said that Vietnam education places little emphasis on social skills, and perhaps that’s why he’s so determined to mingle with so many different kinds of people on campus.
To his family, education is extremely valuable, so Duc Le said he works as hard as he does because he understands why he is here, and he is determined to be successful.
“He’s very hardworking and very smart,” Petrova said. “He actually wants to understand the material. He has a lot of potential and he’s going to have a bright future.”
Duc Le has a grade point average above a 3.8 and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor society for economics students, but said there’s more to a person than just his or her GPA.
“Academics are important and it’s easy to quantify knowledge,” he said. “It’s harder to quantify social skills and leadership, but those things are more tremendous.”
After graduation, Duc Le’s plans to work for a year through Optional Practical Training, in which undergraduate and graduate students who have been pursuing a degree for more than nine months are permitted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to work for no longer than a year on a student visa.
After his year is up, Duc Le plans to attend graduate school in the United States and eventually hopes to open his own financial consulting company.
“I’d like to provide people with financial security and have them know they’re always protected,” he said.
He will graduate from PSUC in May, and his parents will travel from Vietnam for the ceremony.
Email Tawnee Bradham at firstname.lastname@example.org