A young woman and an older man sitting next to each other at a table.
Anh Minh, a rising sophomore at VCU, with her father, Nguyen Cuu Duc, Ph.D., a former research fellow at VCU. (Contributed photo)

Rising sophomore’s journey from Vietnam to VCU started when she was 3

Anh Minh’s father, Nguyen Cuu Duc, served as a research fellow at VCU in 2006-07. Even then, Duc had a feeling his daughter might return to study at VCU.

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When Nguyen Cuu Duc was a research fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University, he hoped his young daughter would one day enroll in the university. Last fall, his dream came true.

“I first came to VCU for one month, and then my wife and 3-year-old daughter, Anh Minh, arrived,” said Duc, who in 2006-07 was a Hubert H. Humphrey Drug Use and Addiction Research Fellow through the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “I enrolled Anh Minh in kindergarten, and she adapted very well. I had a feeling one day she would come back to study at VCU.”

A native of Vietnam, Duc, Ph.D., now works for its government as deputy director general of the Department of Science, Education, Culture and Social Affairs. He also is a member of its National Committee on AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Control.

Ten years after his fellowship, Duc made a trip back to VCU with his family for some “inspiration and preparation for Anh Minh,” he said. “Because of my dream, I wanted to give my daughter a trip so she could get used to the environment and the people in Richmond.”

This past fall, Anh Minh enrolled on a scholarship at VCU for international students, bringing her father’s vision to fruition. Her first year at VCU was a bit of a cultural shock, she said, “but because I travel a lot, I adapt quickly. I’ve learned a lot.”

At the time of his 2006-07 fellowship, Duc was working on national drug policy and international cooperation for drug control in the Standing Office on Drug Control of Vietnam, a government agency responsible for both national policy and international cooperation for drug control.

During his time at VCU, he was able to learn more about drug use and addiction research and how to apply research to the development of science-based government and international policy and prevention and treatment programs.

Duc went on to become the director of the Drug Advisory Programme (DAP), Colombo Plan Secretariat, an intergovernmental organization of 26 member countries in the Asia-Pacific based in Sri Lanka in 2009. Two years later, he returned to Vietnam to assume his current position where he advises the government and the prime minister in the area of drug control and social issues.

“I was able to apply what I learned at VCU to my job,” Duc said. “The university was a meaningful experience. I continue to have a good relationship with the professors at the university and international experts in the area of drug control.”

Anh Minh became familiar with her father’s work after years of traveling with him on business trips, and her exposure to the subject of drugs and drug control sparked an interest in psychology, which is her major at VCU.

“I was inspired by my dad,” she said of both her choice of college and course of study. “I know he learned a lot during his program at VCU. Also, VCU is one of the schools that exclusively has a concentration in addiction studies in psychology, so I believe it will be an advantage for me and my future career.”

She’s glad VCU has many international students and extensive cultural diversity.

“The university has a lot of cultural clubs, such as the Vietnamese Student Association, so it’s easy to join in,” Anh Minh said. “I’ve made a lot of friends, and that has helped me a lot.”