Coming To America

Vietnam Native Journeys to, with Notre Dame College 

Hung Le
Hung Le shines—thanks to a photo projection—as he accepts the FESPY award for best team GPA on behalf of his cross country squad.

Hung Le ’17 left his homeland of Vietnam at age 13, made a new home in Cleveland and now has discovered his home away from home at Notre Dame College.

Despite his still-developing English speaking skills, the sports management and human resources double major with a management minor, who is a rising junior at the College, became valedictorian of his high school and is attending Notre Dame on academic scholarship.

“Moving here was the right decision for me,” Le said. “I am growing up here more. I am focusing on education here.”

Le told his life story to about 60 civic and business leaders in a presentation at Leadership Cleveland’s Education Day program. He also is a graduate of the Cleveland Leadership Center’s (i)Cleveland Winter Edition, a career connection event that provides college students and recent graduates with networking opportunities, job search workshops, internship and employment interviews and an introduction to downtown Cleveland.

Though his hometown now is Cleveland, Le decided to relocate again—even if it was just across town to South Euclid, Ohio. He said he moved into campus residence halls to extend his College experience.

“This is my chance to go somewhere far enough from home to learn to be more independent,” he said.

In his second year at the College, Le walked on the men’s cross country team, which just won the 2015 Falcon Excellence in Sports Yearly, or FESPY, Award for highest GPA among all male athletic teams at Notre Dame.

Le said he had only run about 25 miles—total—in his lifetime. His first week at cross country practice, he ran 40 to 50 miles. Le averages that distance every week, even in the off season.

“Running helps me relax, let everything go,” he said.

Becoming a student-athlete also has helped Le meet and make friends on campus. He gets to continue his trekking, too. He said he enjoys traveling with the team to away meets in “states I’ve never seen before.”

Le is not just exploring the College and the country. He is acquiring the American experience. He last visited Vietnam in 2014.

Besides the linguistics, Le said the biggest difference between his home country and his new nation is scale and, therefore, the necessity of transport. He does not have a car.

“Everything is bigger here. In Vietnam we have a freeway, but no one ever uses it,” he said. “We can walk to a friend’s house in two minutes there. Here you have to drive 20 miles.”

But the size of Notre Dame’s campus and classes still are just right for Le. He said in every course he has taken, he has already known two or three of his classmates, and he appreciates how instructors offer help.

His most challenging course so far at the College has been anthropology. His favorite, surprisingly, was elements of speech. He started as a science major but is more interested in moving into the sports industry now.

“I like the small campus environment here. I live in Cleveland but wanted to live in the dorms to get that true experience,” he said.

E.g., 06/24/19
E.g., 06/24/19