Cynthia Poem Nguyen, who recently earned her UC San Diego Extension Professional Certificate in the Accelerated Paralegal program, has a noble goal: “I want to keep learning about how to create a more peaceful society.”
She’s currently working with the ACLU’s San Diego branch, along with several UC San Diego students, on community-based research projects.
One such effort involves surveying residents of multi-ethnic neighborhoods about racial profiling along with rating respondents’ views on their dealings with police officers.
“The legal knowledge I gained from the paralegal program really helped me develop the confidence and the tools I’ve needed for this project,” said Nguyen, a 2006 UC Berkeley graduate in political science and rhetoric.
Likewise, her college studies in peace education has opened her eyes – and her mind.
“For me, the first step was learning how to communicate in a more non-judgmental and open-minded way,” she said. “I stopped seeing my classmates and others as being antagonistic towards me. I developed more of a sense of peace, a calmness of mind.”
Now attending San Diego City College, Nguyen hopes to earn her law degree and become a civil rights and international human rights lawyer.
“There are so many intelligent people in this world; we can and should work together to make society better,” she said. “We have to learn how to be more peaceful.”
Peace is one thing. Piece is another, as in piece of cake. Because cake decorating happens to be Nguyen’s other passion.
“Every time I pass by a cake or cookies, I want to decorate them,” she said with a laugh. “I’d like to make a living by decorating cakes, but that might be too much of a challenge.”