Speaking at a Campaign Leadership Summit in 2019 during the public launch of The Oxy Campaign For Good, Tuan Ngo ’07 reflected on emigrating to the United States from Vietnam with his parents, “who had at most an elementary school education—and they had parents who were farmers,” he told the gathering. “Growing up in America, I held tight to our collective dream that education will lift us from despair and put us on a path to a better life.”
Occidental saw his potential and provided the support necessary for Ngo to enroll at the College, following in his brother Duy ’04’s footsteps. “Obtaining a prestigious liberal arts education for those without means is often an illusory dream, because the cost of providing a quality education puts it out of reach for many families like mine,” said Ngo, who majored in diplomacy and world affairs. “Oxy believed in me and invested in my future.”
He recalls, “My first job out of Oxy was through the Coro Fellowship, for which the Hameetman Career Center prepared me.” Later, he earned his law degree at UC Hastings School of Law (“I fell in love with international tax because it was intellectually complex”) and his LL.M. at Georgetown.
Ngo served as president of the Alumni Board of Governors (BOG) from 2019 to 2021 and was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 2022. “I was invited to join the BOG in 2016, and I remember being so honored,” he says. At the height of the pandemic, the BOG played a crucial role in maintaining alumni engagement through the magic of Zoom.
“One consequence of social distancing is that this was the perfect time to try out some new ideas when it comes to virtual programming,” Ngo says. In 2020, for instance, hundreds of alumni—many of whom haven’t been back to campus in decades—logged in from all over to watch a series of conversations with that year’s Alumni Seal honorees. Before the return to in-person activities, the College hosted about 75 virtual alumni events.
Even so, there’s no substitute for the personal touch. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2021, Ngo and his partner, Mac Powell, hosted numerous dinners for alumni at their home in the Pacific Northwest. “I try to connect with people on an individual level,” he says. “We can share our Oxy experiences.”
As Ngo sees it, supporting Occidental was a natural extension of his college experience. He marshaled BOG challenge gifts on behalf of Day For Oxy for three years running, and he’s made a generous multiyear commitment to the Oxy Fund to support current operations at the College. “Oxy had given me so much that I felt it was my duty to give back, because I want Occidental to stand among its peers in the world. I believe in the College’s mission and that what it has been for me could be done for many other people. And I want Oxy to continue to do that. So that’s why I continue to be involved—and will be for a very long time.”