When Newman University students elected junior Vivian Hoang as their new SGA president three weeks ago, they elected more than a 20-year-old biology major from Wichita.
They elected a rock-climbing, piano and ukulele-playing, long-boarding woman with a passion for leadership and adventure.
Hoang, who is involved with MCLO, Newman’s Music Club, Chemistry Club and more, has developed an inclusive, collaborative style of leadership, said Ami Larrea, the advisor of MCLO.
“She has a good vision for what she would like to accomplish, but she makes sure to include everyone in the planning and she incorporates others’ ideas,” Larrea said.
Marisol Padilla, a junior involved with MCLO, became friends with Hoang during their freshman orientation.
“We’ve been best friends since then,” Padilla said.
Padilla said some of her favorite memories of her quirky, artistic friend are from their Friday night hangouts.
“We would spend every Friday at my house and we would watch Korean dramas. We were very in to Korean culture and k-pop and the music,” she said. “It was like the highlight of my week. We would sit down and chill and just bond.”
Padilla said Hoang is always welcoming, whether as a friend or a leader.
“She’s assertive when she needs to be,” Padilla said. “But she’s also really collaborative.”
Hoang, who stands 4-foot-11, wouldn’t use the word assertive to describe herself.
However, she participates in Judo classes at Newman and practices a form of Israeli combat martial arts called Krav Maga at Wichita Air Strike.
Adventurous, though, was a word Hoang seemed eager to mention.
Hoang, a life-long Wichitan whose parents came to the Midwest from Vietnam when they were young children, said she loves exploring the city and finding new places to hang out.
However, most of Hoang’s time is dedicated to Newman and preparing for medical school, she said.
Hoang shadowed various doctors in high school and said that is where her love for medicine began.
She plans on practicing general medicine or surgery after med school, but said she’s mainly focused on studying for the MCAT now.
To gain experience, Hoang took an eight-week trip with a national study-abroad program to Spain over the summer where she was able to shadow doctors across the area.
“We went to the hospitals four days a week for six to eight hours a day and we went through each different unit,” she said. “So we would just follow the doctors around. Half of them didn’t speak English, so I was trying to learn by ear. But it was medical Spanish so it all transitioned to English fairly well.”
While in Spain, Hoang decided to pick up playing the ukulele, something she’d been wanting to do for years.
Hoang cycles through hobbies, picking up new ones every few months or so, she said.
She began rock climbing about two months ago at Bliss in Wichita and began taking Judo classes a few months before that.
Over the years, she’s picked up long-boarding and likes to ride around Wichita parks or college campuses.
Hoang has a nomadic spirit, not liking to get too stuck in routine. She said she enjoys finding new places to hang our rather than finding go-to spots. Her music taste seems to change as often as her hair – which has gone from green to blue to blonde to purple in her three years at Newman.
However, one thing seems unwavering about Hoang – her passion for Newman.
Hoang discussed SGA initiatives for the new school year with the same organized enthusiasm that Larrea described her having for MCLO and Padilla described her having for their friendship.
Hoang, a self-described weirdo, said she loves how welcoming Newman is and is eager to continue a to increase inclusivity.
“I love the people. You can’t get better than that. Everyone at Newman is so nice and it’s such an amazing, tight knit community,” Hoang said. “You can be part of everything. I’m excited to help grow that tradition.”
This story first appeared in the May 4th, 2017 issue of The Vantage