Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Former UTSA Top Scholar makes jump from S.A. to South Korea, finds career success in Houston

Former UTSA Top Scholar makes jump from S.A. to South Korea, finds career success in Houston

After attending UTSA, Cory Nguyen ’18 landed a job as a data scientist for Chevron in Houston, where he has worked since 2019.

Conversations with the nation’s most competitive students and faculty, and why they chose UTSA.

APRIL 24, 2024 — Editor’s note: This article is part of a yearlong series highlighting the stories and successes of past and present UTSA Top Scholars to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program.

UTSA encourages students of all levels to pursue transformative learning experiences outside of the classroom with opportunities such as research, volunteering and mentorship, and study away programs. UTSA Top Scholar Cory Nguyen ’18 took advantage of all three. He conducted vaccine research as a freshman, traveled to South Korea as a senior and was both a mentor and mentee in between.

This circuitous route helped prepare Nguyen for his role today as a data scientist in Houston.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Nguyen chose the UTSA Top Scholar program because of its competitive education and proximity to home. He was also eager to build upon the leadership skills he gained in high school.

“I had gotten a taste of leadership and leading a group as an Eagle Scout, and I wanted more of that and to learn how to be a better leader,” he said. “Top Scholar has leadership as one of its pillars and offers opportunities to be a leader in San Antonio and give back to San Antonio and this community. That helped draw me to the program, and honestly that's what kept bringing me back to the program after I graduated.”

“All of it comes together to create an experiential package where students can take their educational journey and make it their own.”

Cory Nguyen ’18 proudly sports his UTSA Football shirt from the 2016 New Mexico Bowl while visiting South Korea.

The financial aid awarded to each UTSA Top Scholar — a four-year scholarship covering 100% of tuition, fees, and room and board — was also a major factor in Nguyen’s decision.

“The financial aid package isn't something you can ignore,” Nguyen said. “But beyond the financial package, there's the experiential package.”

For Nguyen, this included unique learning opportunities offered by dedicated faculty, proactive degree planning and career support from Honors College advisors, and a close-knit community of peers who supported each other’s academic, professional and personal growth.

“All of it comes together to create an experiential package where students can take their educational journey and make it their own,” he said.

One of these key experiences took place in the lab of Karl Klose, a professor in the UTSA Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. A biology and statistics double major, Nguyen spent three years in Klose’s lab exploring the field of medical research and gaining experience with vaccine development.

“Undergraduate research was a big part of my time at UTSA,” Nguyen said. “Top Scholar and the Honors College helped open some doors along that route.”

As he approached graduation, Nguyen, a student with majors in two UTSA colleges, needed a study abroad program that could fulfill requirements for both areas of study to stay on track for graduation.

The UTSA Study Abroad Office helped him find the perfect program that met his academic needs. It would take him to South Korea.

“I was asking for a lot of things, but sure enough they found exactly one experience, which was the South Korea program,” Nguyen said. “Going from San Antonio to South Korea was a big jump, but I'm glad that I did it. There was a huge sense of adventure, and I got to make new friends from all different walks of life.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree at UTSA, Nguyen attended the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin and earned a master’s degree in business analytics. From there, he landed a job at Chevron as a data scientist in Houston, where he has worked since 2019.

He credits UTSA and its Top Scholar program for promoting his academic and holistic development, and for laying the groundwork for success in his graduate studies and his career as a data scientist.

“I felt that my education, especially around statistics, was pretty competitive when I went on to the UT Business School program,” Nguyen said. “Even now in my current work at Chevron, I feel like my undergrad education and my foundation for statistics was very competitive.”

Cory Nguyen and his younger brother, Cameron (right), are both UTSA alumni.

Recognizing the countless benefits he obtained from the UTSA Top Scholar program, Nguyen has continued to pay it forward to incoming Roadrunners. He mentors current Top Scholars and attends events during the selection process each year, meeting with prospective students and their parents to provide valuable insight into the program.

Nguyen is one of three Roadrunners in his family. His father and his younger brother, Cameron Nguyen ’19, are also UTSA alumni.

Following in his older brother’s footsteps, Cameron applied to be a Top Scholar after seeing the value Cory had gained in his first year. Like Cory, Cameron’s experience also served as a catalyst for his post-college success, and he was hired at Google shortly after graduating.

“Cameron saw that I was growing from the program, and he had a chance to do the same thing,” Cory said. “And my closest friend was now in college with me, and we got to continue to do things together.”

Find out more about the UTSA Honors College and its Top Scholar program.
Learn how UTSA supports undergraduate research opportunities for Roadrunners.

Cory Nguyen took this photo from the deck of Busan Tower, overlooking downtown Busan, while studying abroad in South Korea.

Now in its 10th year, the UTSA Top Scholar program continues to develop award-winning, academically talented student leaders. Housed within the Honors College, the program annually selects 10 high-achieving students from high schools across Texas to become Top Scholars, with each student receiving a four-year scholarship covering tuition, fees, and room and board. The program also provides students with a built-in community of peers.

The annual UTSA Top Scholar application deadline is December 1 of each year and includes a recommendation letter, a list of extracurricular and service activities, and several short answer questions. Prior to applying for Top Scholar, students must first have an application on file for fall admission to UTSA.

Chloe Johnson

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




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