Hello there!

My name is Michelle Tran and I am a senior studying Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). I am the president for my college’s VSA, a UNAVSA Visionary Scholar, and most recently, the Co-Executive Director for the Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Associations’ (MAUVSA) Fourth Advance Conference (MAC-4).

With MAC-4 now being over, I finally have the chance to sit down and reminisce on my experience. Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, a notification will pop up occasionally, claiming I have been tagged in a picture. I click on it this time, only to be sent through various stages of nostalgia as I see a picture of Dennis, my other Co-Director, and I standing on stage during the opening ceremony of MAC-4.


Seeing this picture reminds me of how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to work alongside with Dennis as his Co-Director and his partner in crime. I am most thankful though to Tuan Duong, the current president of MAUVSA, and his Executive Board for entrusting me with this Co-Director role. They believed in me even when I didn’t have the courage to believe in myself.

I still remember the anxious, nervous feeling I had on the night before conference. I stayed awake thinking about potential scenarios that could possibly go wrong. Instead of focusing on how hard everyone worked to make this conference the best that we could and that I shouldn’t worry, I was busy focusing on the what-ifs. The first day of conference would finally come though, and I have to admit that I was anxious, but even more so, excited. It was so thrilling to watch everything come together, with everyone coming in from the different regions, all for one common cause.


I felt more at ease when I saw everyone filing into the ballroom for opening ceremony; young Vietnamese leaders were professionally dressed up in traditional ao dais and business casual wear, ready to engage and learn. During the MAUVSA Games on the same night, I loved watching everyone participate in the various team-bonding games, and while shouting their lively group chants that they had only come up with hours before. The excitement in the room could only be described as contagious, only to be further exemplified by the laughter echoing throughout the night.


My favorite parts of conference would come later though. The MAUVSA elections truly made a huge impact on me. Seeing all of the candidates so passionate about their work made me hopeful for the future of MAUVSA and UNAVSA. The closing ceremony was such a surreal moment — seeing everyone take their last group pictures and exchange phone numbers was proof of the bonds made in the past three days. To me, that made all the hard work worth it.


If it weren’t for the support system I had from my VSA, MAUVSA, and the Visionary family, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to everyone who has helped me through my journey. My promise is to give back to my community, and help other young leaders realize their own potential.


Now I would like to welcome you to 20/20 Vision, our new Visionary Blog! I had the pleasure of reading all of your wonderful posts on our ask forum these past few weeks! Before I answer them though, I would first like to thank you all for taking the time out to ask such thoughtful questions. Please continue to ask us questions here! We absolutely loved reading and answering them. Now let’s get this show on the road!

Q: What is your favorite way of wasting time?

A: I love to go to the gym during my free time. I wouldn’t say it is a waste of time though. I love to make new friends and hear their stories. Like the saying goes, “Sweat together, stay together.”

Q: When was the last time you saw an animal in the wild?

A: I have never been in the wild before!

Q: What was your first big disappointment?

A: My first big disappointment was when I did not get accepted to the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) right out of high school. However, I eventually understood that if I attended UMCP, I would have never been able to work on UMBC VSA. If that were the case, then my VSA experience would have been completely different. Therefore, I agree with the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.”

Q: Where you do not mind waiting?

A: There is no specific place I don’t mind waiting. It depends on who or what I am waiting for. If it is worthwhile, I will wait anywhere I am needed :

Q: How can my VSA attract new members? What are some ways to retain old ones?

A: Every VSA has their own unique ways of attracting members. I would suggest holding a “brainstorm meeting” with your executive board. Hold a moment for open discussion – remember there are no such things as bad ideas! Hear everybody out, and give them a chance to share their thoughts.

Here are some ideas to get your creative gears turning! For our VSA, we take into consideration the interests of our members and put them into action! For example, a lot of our members love to dance, but don’t want to learn alone and do not know whom to turn to learn. Therefore, we started a subgroup called “VSA Dance,” where we invite some friends in the dance community to volunteer and hold dance workshops! This way, our members can learn how to dance without the commitment and pressure of a dance team. Dancing is also a way for us to learn and grow together.

First, find a common interest (or even a few) that your members share, and put that idea into an action! Secondly, appoint an executive board member (or a planning subcommittee) to be in charge of overseeing the responsibilities of that respective subgroup. One important thing to remember – “don’t bite off more than you can chew!” Take things easy; great things take time and effort to grow!

This method is both a way for us to attract new members, and to retain our current members. Word-of-mouth is one of the best forms of advertisement! Get your friends to tell their friends to tell their friends. Next thing you know, your family just got bigger and bigger! Good luck & happy planning!


A: I think the real question here is, “WHY ARE YOU SO COOL?!?!”

Q: Which region is the best region?

A: M-A! ALL DAY!! haha I’m just kidding! Every region is equally AWESOME!! <3 I can’t wait to see everybody represent their regional pride at the UNAVSA-12 conference!

Q: Am I eligible?

A: To be eligible for the Visionary Scholarship program, you must:

  1. Be a current undergraduate college student, or a graduating senior.
  2. Be a first-time UNAVSA conference attendee; cannot be a conference director, or UNAVSA e-board member.
  3. Have a completed application submitted on time. Early Deadline: April 20th, 2015 at 11:59pm PST, and Final Deadline: May 4th at 11:59pm PST.

For more information, please check out our Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/774512875972755/

Q: What does it mean to be a “Visionary Scholar” in the Vietnamese community?

A: Everyone has their own definition of what being a Visionary Scholar means to them. Personally, being a Visionary Scholar in the Vietnamese community means to be a young leader who sees the potential in others and encourages their growth as leaders.

Q: How did being a UNAVSA Visionary influence your life?

A: Being a UNAVSA Visionary Scholar has influenced me to step out of my comfort zone and take more chances. When someone referred me to the UNAVSA Visionary program last year, the first thing I said was, “I don’t know. I never win these sorts of things. Someone else more qualified should apply.” Then it made me think about how often I was holding myself back by just giving up and passing up offers that could potentially be essential for my growth as a leader.

I took a chance when I applied for the position of Executive Co-Director of MAUVSA’s fourth annual Advance Conference this year. When I saw first saw the open position for the conference, I initially thought, “Who would trust me to lead a conference of 300 people? Someone else more qualified will probably apply.” Then, I took a moment to myself and thought it over again. Soon it hit me – why should I be afraid to take on a new role when I have such a great support system? I knew that if I had any questions or conflicts about conference, I could always turn to MAUVSA and the UNAVSA Visionary family for help and support.

Q: What is your spirit animal?

A: My spirit animal is a butterfly, because I just took a spirit animal quiz online and it told me I was one… LOL. My spirit animal is a butterfly, because I believe in personal growth. Being involved in VSA, MAUVSA, and UNAVSA has influenced my self-improvement and my passion for helping others find their path to self-growth.


If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you so much for reading through all my thoughts! >.<!

I love you to Pluto and back,

Michelle Tran