At the age of 25, Michelle Nguyen is the youngest candidate running for San Diego City Council in District 3. For someone of her age, her background and experience are one few can say they have. As a second-generation American, Michelle dedicates her life to service to her community and country.
Michelle Nguyen was born to Vietnamese War refugees. Her family has a history of escaping communism twice within the last century—both sets of grandparents were born in northern Vietnam in the Nam Dinh province. Her father’s side, military officers working with the French and her mother’s side, practicing Roman Catholics—fled the north and settled in Saigon, where they were known as Bắc 54 (meaning Northern [Vietnamese of] 1954). Her parents grew up in war-torn Vietnam until the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Her paternal grandfather was a lieutenant colonel in the South Vietnamese Army, gained passage for his wife and ten children through an evacuation mission called “Operation Frequent Wind” for “at-risk” high ranking military officers. Her paternal family eventually immigrated to Corvallis, OR after months of refugee camps across the Pacific. Her mother’s family fled Vietnam like many refugees, known as “Vietnamese boat people” one-by-one. Michelle’s mother cut her hair short and wrapped her chest to journey the dangerous exodus alone at the age of 19.
Decades later, her parents met, married, had Michelle and raised her in a working-middle class home in Westminster, CA, a city in Orange County, CA which happens to have the largest population of Vietnamese-Americans in the world. She grew up in-tune with her Vietnamese heritage and surrounded by successful Vietnamese-run small businesses. Her aunt and uncle from her father’s side own a famous restaurant, Phở 79, which recently received the coveted James Beard award last year. In school, she participated in swim/water polo, parish youth groups, theatre, and Academic Decathlon. Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Westminster High School in 2012.
Michelle attended the University of San Diego where she majored in International Business with a minor in Supply Chain Management. In her sophomore year, she received a full-ride scholarship from the California Army National Guard and drilled as a cadet at the 670th Military Police Company in National City. Simultaneously, she participated in the Aztec Battalion Army ROTC program where she was afforded the opportunity study Farsi in Uzbekistan and teach English to military officers in Vietnam. Michelle met with the U.S. ambassadors to both countries. With the spare time she could carve out, she completed three different internships in various industries like grocery supply chain, real estate, and government defense. Michelle graduated from USD and commissioned as an Army officer in 2016.
Today, Michelle is a seasoned procurement specialist at a major government defense contractor in San Diego and continues to drill in the California Army National Guard as Executive Officer in a transportation company. She plans on completing 20-years of service in the National Guard. When she is not working, Michelle is angraduate student at the University of Southern California and a co-troop leader to 14 adorable Girl Scout Daisies and 2 rambunctious Brownies. She is a recent homeowner in Mission Hills.