Online program allows Vietnam native to further her career
Van Nguyen immigrated to the United States in 2000 from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to be closer to her mother and sisters. Nguyen settled down in San Jose, California and worked in the kitchen at Cedar Crest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Not long after, her manager, Scott Morley, encouraged her to complete dietary manager training.
Morley found the University of North Dakota’s Nutrition and Foodservice Professional Training Program through the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals’ (ANFP) monthly magazine, Edge. Morley helped Nguyen enroll in the program, then sat back and watched her flourish. Morley knew Nguyen’s potential, and combined with the appropriate training, saw her moving up the ladder within Cedar Crest.
“I worked as dietary cook for 10 years before deciding to enroll in UND’s training program,” said Nguyen. “I was hesitant at first, but then I decided to jump right in.”
Being a non-native English speaker, Nguyen had unique challenges to overcome while completing the program.
“We have a fair amount of English speaking students who find it difficult to learn some of the anatomy and scientific terms of our program,” explained Becky Rude, coordinator for UND’s NFP Training Program. “Van had to translate the terms in order to correctly learn them.”
Nguyen was familiar with the concepts and terms in Vietnamese, it was just a matter of correlating those terms to the appropriate English words. Once she grasped them, Nguyen completed the program in stride. She successfully completed the training program in December, 2014.
UND’s program paved the way for Nguyen’s success. She’s since taken a lead role within the kitchen community. Nguyen is responsible for the purchasing, budgeting, scheduling of staff, keeping up-to-date with dietary guidelines, as well as dealing with families of patients. She also supervises the kitchen staff.
One of her favorite rolls at Cedar Crest is training new employees. San Jose has one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the United States and Cedar Crest employs many Vietnamese immigrants. Many credit Nguyen with their success.
“She’s able to take training to another level – with her ability to speak her native language, combined with her knowledge of the foodservice industry,” said Morley. “Her ability to explain complex ideas in her native language is a great asset to our company.”
Since completing UND’s training program, Nguyen has worked her way up to a kitchen supervisor and food production manager.
Her hard work has paid off, as well. Nguyen recently bought her first home in the San Francisco Bay area, one of her proudest accomplishments.
“Having the hands-on experience of being in the kitchen before and while completing the training program prepared me to succeed,” Nguyen explained.
UND’s training program is approved by the ANFP and includes classroom and field experience hours, course work (including student study materials), lesson assignments, and interaction with a highly qualified instructor.
“Enrolling in this self-paced course allows students to gain important educational and experiential tools for success in our industry. Students are always welcome to come to UND, but our program doesn’t require them to leave their home, family or job, in order reach their goal of becoming CDM, CFPP certified,” said Rude.
For more information about UND’s online Nutrition & Foodservice Professional Training Program, visit UND.edu/dietary-managers.