Today’s Class: November 6, 2015

Today’s Hope High Life Skills guest was the Senior Director of Planning and Analytics at CVS (PMO), Michelle Nguyen.  Our host for today’s class, responsible for welcoming Michelle to Hope High School and introducing her to the Life Skills class, was Delvany Soares.

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Michelle Nguyen (right) and Delvany Soares. Delvany welcomed Michelle before class to Hope High School today.

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Delvany leads Michelle into today’s Life Skills class

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Delvany introduces Michelle to her classmates at the start of today’s Life Skills class.

Michelle’s story began with her journey as a 15 year old Viet Namese citizen to America, first to residential Virginia and then onto inner city Philadelphia.  “It was culture shock for me. 

I was nervous, sometimes fearful. 

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Michelle begins her personal story with Chanda Nuth (to the right of Michelle) and Alaendry Tavares (to the right of Chanda) listening intently.

Our home in Philadelphia was in a poor and dangerous area.  We had a bullet shot into our home one day.  Unfortunately, my high school had lots of gangs and a strong police presence.  But,

I was determined to succeed and I believed education was key.”

Michelle told the class she was very shy as a teenager.  “I rarely made eye contact with people during conversations and my voice was was so soft people had a hard time hearing me.  I was incredibly shy.

Michelle’s focus on education in high school paid off.  “I worked hard, got very good grades and was admitted to Penn State University in western Pennsylvania.  There were over 40,000 students at Penn State.  Very soon, I realized that to be the successful person I wanted to be,

I had to change.  I forced myself out of my comfort zone

by meeting new people, people who didn’t look like nor think like me…..  people with different interests.  Most of the people I initially hung around with were like me, Asian students. But I soon learned the value of diversity, in my relationships, in the network I was building.   I joined school organizations.    It was hard;  I often got very nervous.  But I worked at it. I didn’t give up regardless of how initially embarrassed I was.  I just kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

Eventually, I started feeling better about myself;  I got more confidence. 

Today, my mother can’t believe the changes in me.  The fact I am constantly meeting new people.  I give presentations all over the country and I have a group of people who report to me at CVS.”

Michelle then shared her ideas about networking.

My personal network has been invaluable to my success. 

I have several mentors, many of whom, are quite different from me in personality, ethnicity and strengths.  I continually reach out to my mentors for constructive criticism, different ideas for solving a problem or opinions on different work and personal issues.”

Michelle spoke about her personal brand and how she wanted to be perceived by others. “I try to make sure my brand is about perseverance, never giving up, and kindness.”  It was interesting to hear from the Life Skills students how they perceived Michelle’s brand after observing and hearing her speak in class.   Words like “intelligent“, “confident” and “successful” were mentioned by the students.

Michelle then spoke about the brand of one of the Hope Life Skills students, Fernando Perez.


Michelle speaks with Fernando Perez during the networking session at the end of today’s class.

I worked with Fernando last summer at CVS.  He was one of the students from this Life Skills class who was chosen for a summer internship in my department.  Fernando is amazing. He’s very smart.  He is an impressive coder (computer programmer).  He was learning some computer programs in days when it took most people weeks or months.  Fernando made a remarkable presentation to the CVS staff at the end of his internship.  Impressive.

I would love to hire Fernando RIGHT NOW to be part of my analytic team at CVS!

Finally, our class ended with our usual networking time as students met with Michelle to exchange business cards and add each

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Students meeting Michelle during today’s networking session, exchanging business cards and adding Michelle to their personal network.

other to their personal networks.   Michelle’s last suggestion –

“please connect with me on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is a very good networking tool.  I hope to connect with you soon.”

10 thoughts on “Today’s Class: November 6, 2015

  1. I felt Michelle’s brand was very confident, hard working and more eager to learn than most people. I could tell she worked hard for her position and she probably plans going higher in her job. With her difficult life journey, some people might have shut down but she didn’t. Michelle is very courageous and I admire her work ethic. She inspired me to move forward and try get into a good college. She is a very lovely woman. I hope to be like her one day.

  2. It was very interesting to hear Michelle’s story. As she spoke, I noticed she was a little like me; not very outgoing and always in her comfort zone. I really enjoyed having her in class. Her story of growing up in Vietnam, graduating from Penn State and becoming a Senior Director at CVS Health was inspiring. It really helped me realize that you don’t really know where you will end up in life and you will always fail, but you must never give up. Thank you Michelle for visiting Life Skills 101. I hope to see you again.

  3. It was great seeing Michelle again. I recall seeing her with Fernando plenty of times while we worked at CVS. Very nice lady; you’ll learn a lot from her.

  4. Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed my time at the Hope High School Life Skills class on Friday. What a great bunch of students! I’m impressed with how mature, professional and brave they are. What great questions they asked me. Let me leave them with some of my favorite quotes and poems, of which, I often resort to whenever I feel down or begin to doubt my inner strength to push forward in order to succeed:

    “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
    “You cannot fail until you stop trying.”
    “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
    “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
    – Albert Einstein

    “Success is not the absence of failures; success is persistence and perseverance through failures.”

    “Living the truth in your heart brings kindness into the world; attempts at kindness that compromise your heart cause only sadness.”

    If – by Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  5. It was a pleasure having the opportunity to meet Michelle Nguyen in class. The way her story developed to the person she is today was amazing. Her story taught me that you can always be successful no matter the circumstances you face or where you come from.

  6. Meeting Ms.Nguyen was a pleasure. Her story of her struggles and triumphs really intrigued me. She has inspired me to take a step out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries. After meeting her, I have learned that you can not fail if you have not fully tried and persistence is key to being successful.

  7. Ms. Nguyen was a great guest. I liked how she discussed how fearful she was, shy and afraid to step out of her comfort zone and how if you want to, just do it. It made me want to step out of my comfort zone and ask a question. Thank you for coming Michelle. It was great.

  8. Ms.Nguyen was very poised and credible during her conversation with our class last Friday. She was very calm as she spoke about her challenging journey from Viet Nam as a young girl to her education at Penn State. One important thing I took from her story was everyone fails but failure can help you better yourself for a successful future.

  9. It was great having Michelle here today. She shared a lot of topics in her life story that relate to me. For example, she talked about the struggles/difficulties she encountered moving from Vietnam to America and then, moving from a place like Virginia to a place like Philadelphia with gangs and shooting. I was also shocked when Michelle talked about immediately hiring Hope High senior, Fernando, to be part of her analytic team after observing his work during his CVS internship last summer. I thought it was really cool.

  10. Michelle was a lovely guest today! I related to her story; it was intriguing as well. As a person who is slowly trying to get of her comfort zone, Michelle inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone. As Michelle said in class, “practice”! Thanks for coming, Michelle!

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