Engineering student dives into calculus - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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Engineering student dives into calculus

Student and mentor

Ali Ghorbanpour (left), lead tutor and adjunct associate professor in the physics department at LCC, is pictured with LCC student Steven Nguyen.  Photo by Mallory Stiles

Mallory Stiles

By Mallory Stiles
Editor in Chief

It’s mid-July and the summer heat is keeping most at the beach or by the pool. LCC guest student Steven Nguyen, however, is spending his summer neck deep in equations.

Nguyen, 21, is currently taking Calc 3 and is working hard to keep up while learning as much he possibly can.

“It’s a little rough,” Nguyen said. “It’s really fast-paced and you have to devote quite a bit of time to it.”

He said he chose LCC because it was an affordable option with a larger class availability. He said the atmosphere has been extremely welcoming.

“I really like it here,” he said. “The student-help services are really, really nice. I come here almost every single day to get help and everyone is very patient with me.”

His tutors are equally fond of him. Ali Ghorbanpour, lead tutor and adjunct associate professor in the physics department, was happy to share his experience as Nguyen’s tutor.

“He has been spending a lot of time on this course and has been successful so far,” Ghorbanpour said. “He’s a smart guy; very, very dedicated. He makes sure to get the right answer.”

While Ghorbanpour respects accuracy and work-ethic, he said he also sees the value in simple kindnesses. He said Nguyen is a very thoughtful person.

“He is one of those students that whenever you help him, he thanks you,” Ghorbanpour said.

Nguyen has two first-generation immigrant parents from Vietnam and, as a result, is fluent in Vietnamese.

“It’s pretty difficult,” Nguyen said. “There are like four different ways to say the same exact thing.”

With airline tickets being pricier than ever, Nguyen only goes home every half a decade or so. He says the food is always good, and going home gives him a chance to save money and practice the language.

His roots are a reminder of just how far he has come, and continue to remind him of the importance of having direction.

“I am one of the first ones in my family to go to college,” he said. “At first I was going for business, but then a friend suggested engineering because I told him I was a big math-head in high school. I was going for civil engineering but then I kind of liked the idea of possibly working on cars better.

“I liked that idea more than working on roads or stand-still infrastructure.”

Nguyen also works part-time as a server at Charlie Kang’s Restaurant in East Lansing. He is expected to graduate in 2025 and wants to relocate to a place with less snow.

To de-stress most days, he will listen to music. His playlist is mostly Indie. He said his friends hardly ever recognize most of the artists, and he likes that.

Nguyen is an only child. He said his parents were always loving and trusting in a very non-smothering way. He values his friends more than most and also sees those relationships as invaluable.

“Friends are the family you choose,” he said.

He prefers the color navy blue and dedicates his love of books to John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” which was given to him by one of his favorite teachers many moons ago.

“That book got me to like reading,” he said. “I wasn’t a big reader at all.”

Nguyen also said he loves falcons because they are fast, strong and very aerodynamic creatures. In addition to Vietnam, he has also spent time in Canada and Mexico for recreational purposes.

He said his secret to success is just in how hard he works and how far he is willing to go. Nguyen truly believes there is nothing he can’t achieve with effort applied as required.

“I wasn’t considered an incredibly smart person in high school,” he said. “I took my very first honors class in freshman year and, as I got older, I realized some things aren’t necessarily hard; they just take more work.

“It’s still true.”



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