Lenoir-Rhyne University senior and Student Government Association (SGA) president, Thinh Truong, has been named a Fulbright Grantee for the 2017-18 academic year. Over LR's 126 year history, five professors have received Fulbright fellowships for research study abroad. Truong is the first LR student to receive the prestigious award.
"I am honored and humbled to have received a Fulbright Grant," Truong said. "As a first generation college student, being selected as a Fulbright Finalist is a great honor for me and my family. I truly feel I am living the American dream and am grateful for this opportunity to pursue my future goals. I appreciate the support of those who have helped me during my college career and most importantly, those who believe in me."
Through the Fulbright Study/Research Grant, Truong will have the extraordinary opportunity to study at the Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland. Following his graduation in May, he will begin summer courses to provide an introduction to the Finnish language, culture, and society. He will then embark on a nine-month fellowship to study energy systems. Thinh is hoping to take advantage of the renewable grant which will afford him the opportunity to complete his master's degree in energy systems, with a focus on nuclear energy, in Finland.
"I have had the privilege of getting to know Thinh over the past two months and remain in awe of his accomplishments," said Dr. Fred Whitt, President of LRU. "He demonstrates the determination, leadership, integrity, and passion for learning that are central to our core values and commitment at Lenoir-Rhyne. We feel fortunate to have him as a student and to be a part of his success."
"Thinh's selection for a Fulbright award is an achievement for which he can be justly proud," said Chairman of the Fulbright Program, Jeffery Bleich. "The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Thinh will be joining the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S Department of State, alongside many distinguished figures around the world."
According to Bleich, Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists, and teachers. They include 58 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 31 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public, and non-profit sectors.
Currently Truong is pursuing a double major in physics and mathematics. This past summer, he completed a 10-week research program in nuclear physics at Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory in Durham. He also traveled to Ireland in May 2016 and to Iceland this past March as part of LR's Broyhill Business Leadership program. The objectives of both trips are to study business, leadership, sustainability, and innovation, and to practice interacting and developing relationships with people from each country.
Truong's family moved from Danang City, Vietnam to Hickory eight years ago. As an international student, Truong was drawn to helping other students feel welcome and acclimate to collegiate life. He has remained involved in LR's IPAL organization which strives to befriend international students by introducing them to the University and encouraging them to become an integral part of campus life.
Having proven himself to be a strong leader, Truong was selected as the SGA president for the 2016-17 academic year. As president, he has strived to represent the entire student body in all of its diversity, bringing passionate and hard-working representatives from different organizations into SGA. Prior to his role as president, Truong served as Commuter Student Representative for SGA. Truong's leadership skills are also evident through his role as president of Circle K International. Sponsored by Kiwanis International, the organization promotes community service, leadership development, and fellowship. He has also served as president of the LR Broyhill Institute for Leadership, captain for the Homecoming Alumni Relations Committee, and as a new student orientation leader.
Truong's academic success has been recognized through membership to four honor societies as well as the Lineberger Fellows program. He finds time to assist other students with their studies, serving as a tutor in the math center and physics laboratory. He also works in LR's Career and Professional Development Center which helps students prepare for their employment search after graduation.
"Thinh not only worked hard, but also took advantage of everything that LR has to offer all of its students," said Dr. Rand Brandes, Director of the Lineberger Center and LR's Fulbright Adviser. "In addition to his extensive service to the campus and local community, he made the most of every summer break by competing for prestigious internships and research opportunities. In addition to everything else going on in his life, Thinh stayed focused on the Fulbright Fellowship application process for over a year as a Lineberger Fellow. The Lineberger Fellows program's mission is to guide, support and celebrate the accomplishments of LR's most highly competitive students - students like Thinh." Dr. Brandes is a two-time Fulbright fellowship recipient.
The Fulbright Program offers highly competitive, merit-based scholarships and grants for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists. Founded by United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious award programs worldwide, operating in over 160 countries. Since its inception in 1946, more than 370,000 "Fulbrighters" have participated in the program.
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.