About Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen

Thomas Klammer, Trưởng Ngành, Nhân Văn và Xã Hội Học, CSU Fullerton

As dean, I have the pleasure of interacting with many, many students.  In the course of my work, I meet this University’s very best students, among whom I place Trangdai.  Trangdai is a renaissance woman, brilliant in scholarship and in the visual and performing arts, always active in campus co-curricular activities of many kinds, and at the same time dedicated to community service.  Her résumé provides an impressive list of examples of some of the many ways in which she excels.

Trangdai has the intelligence, drive, and ambition to excel in her creative, original research.  She has demonstrated her capacity to do this through her previous performance as an undergraduate and master’s student and as a post-MA researcher.  Her ability to communicate is exceptional.  She not only relates well with her peers and professors, but quickly demonstrates the leadership skills, tact, and diplomacy required to carry out collaborative projects effectively.  During her graduate studies and afterwards, I believe Trangdai will be not just an original and productive researcher, but one who will make a difference in society through her devotion to community service. 

Returning for a moment to her unusual quadruple undergraduate major (Asian American Studies, Liberal Studies, Child and Adolescent Studies, and English), how did she manage this?  Trangdai routinely took 24 semester units of course work each semester (8 courses) and maintained a very strong grade point average. Based on this level of academic achievement alone, I have never met Trangdai’s equal in forty years of teaching and administration in the university.  Yet Trangdai only arrived in the United States from Vietnam in 1994, and at that time, she spoke no English.  She has supported herself throughout, supplemented by the scholarships that she has won.  This young woman is, indeed, a remarkable person.

Beyond her exceptional classroom work, however, Trangdai really shines.  Among her extensive activities during her Fullerton years, she was a teacher of Vietnamese language.  She has been an interviewer in our Center for Oral and Public History, using her multilingual skills to capture for posterity the living memories of our richly varied immigrant community.  She is a talented creative writer, having published numerous poems and essays.  Not surprisingly, she has won a substantial list of awards and scholarships.  She has served as a mentor to other students, both formally in our Fullerton First Year Program for freshmen, and informally for the many students who hold her in high regard.

Trangdai is an outstanding example of how wonderfully human beings can overcome disadvantages and obstacles to achieve goals that most of us would never consider.  Our campus and our community are enormously richer as a result of Trangdai’s role as a leader of young people and inspirer of all with whom she has contact.


Ulf Hannerz, President, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), & Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

I have known Ms. Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen since she was in Sweden on a Fulbright grant during the 2004-05 academic year. During that year I was her academic advisor, and I have stayed in regular contact with her since then. Advising her was a great pleasure, and I also got to know her quite well. We have had a number of extended conversations about her research and her plans for its continued development, and Ms. Glassey-Tranguyen has also presented her study in a departmental seminar at Stockholm University, where it was very well received. Furthermore, while in Europe on her Fulbright grant, she gave lectures and presented papers in a number of other academic settings.

Her research on the Vietnamese diaspora in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe has proceeded very successfully. It cannot have been an easy project to do, partly because Vietnamese immigrants, refugees and exiles have frequently had to make complicated adaptations to their new circumstances, but Ms. Tranguyen’s empathy and personal sensitivity, as well as her academic ability, has surely been a major resource here. I see it as a very important project, filling a gap in anthropological and ethnohistorical knowledge, and to have a researcher of her background and qualities doing it is extremely valuable. Her work will make a major contribution to the understanding of the mutual influence between a global diaspora and a European society adapting on a larger scale to new cultural and ethnic diversity.

Ms. Glassey-Tranguyen is obviously a highly talented young scholar and intellectual, as she makes evident in many ways. I would add that I have greatly enjoyed reading her English-language poetry – she publishes her poetry bilingually in English and Vietnamese, and I find it very original, appealing and insightful. Obviously, it reflects her remarkable life experience, growing up in Vietnam and arriving in the United States as a young adult. It supports my sense that she is someone who thinks constructively and very originally about the range of forms of written communication, and my expectation that she will put this to excellent use in her continued scholarly work as well.


Ms. Jeannette Lindstrom, Executive Director, Swedish Fulbright Commission

Ms. Glassey-Tranguyen was a Fulbright fellow under our 2004-05 program year, and during the time she spent in Sweden she proved herself to be truly one of the best and brightest.

Ms. Tranguyen submitted an impressive application for a Fulbright grant. However, there was some concern that her project proposal was far too demanding for a visiting American graduate student.  Consequently there was an exceedingly thorough and careful review of her academic credentials, her academic and professional accomplishments, her extracurricular activities, and the letters of references submitted on her behalf.  The Fulbright Screening Committee noted that she not only completed the requirements for four bachelor’s degrees, she also earned a master’s degree with a near perfect grade point average.  She had won numerous scholarships and several awards for her academic work and community service.  She held several elected positions in many organizations and exemplified leadership skills both in academic and community settings.  She had produced and directed documentaries and her poetry had been published.  She had carefully laid out the methodology for her project, and had a letter of invitation from Dr. Ulf Hannerz, professor of social anthropology, Stockholm University.   The reference letters were glowing and laudatory.  Moreover, the Fulbright evaluation in the United States had ranked Ms. Glassey-Tranguyen as an exceptional candidate, the top ranking which can be given.  At the end, there was not a doubt among the Screeners that here was an exceptional student who would be a success.

She did not prove us wrong.  During her entire stay in Sweden, she showed herself to be highly motivated and dedicated, compassionate, and with a wonderful personality and sense of humor.  She seriously pursued her objectives and made maximum use of her time.  When we sent her to Germany for the annual Fulbright Berlin Seminar, she used her free time to interview Vietnamese immigrants, and she was interviewed on Berlin radio about the Vietnamese diaspora.

She was invited to give a presentation at the University of Klaipeda in Lithuania, she extended her project to interview Vietnamese students throughout Finland, and she was asked to give a presentation at the 37th World Congress of the International Institute of Sociology.  In view of the excellent work she was doing, the Board of the Fulbright Commission decided, on an exceptional basis, to provide funding in support of these extra activities.

Over the twenty-eight years I have been with the Fulbright Commission in Sweden, I have seen many bright and talented students.  Ms. Glassey-Tranguyen ranks among the very best of those.  She is a remarkable individual, and I believe she will make significant future contributions to her academic field and to society as a whole.


Will Wheeler, Ph.D., Stanford University and Georgetown University

I first met Trangdai when she consulted me at Stanford about resources for her research on the exploitation of Vietnamese women.  I was immediately struck by her engagement with the research process and her deep caring for the people she was studying.  I stayed I touch with her as I found additional materials and she helped me connect further to graduate students, especially international students in the anthropology department.  Rare among students, she recognized the value of both the material and human resources available through the library. While faculty at Stanford had suggested I might enrich the department with course offerings in ethnomusicology, Trangdai was the one who brought me in to speak on the topic to international students during a special series she sponsored that brought Vietnamese musicians to campus. Trangdai is a rare special person who recognizes others, thinks creatively, gives selflessly, and follows through completely.

Based on my experience as a scholar and teacher, based on my appreciation for Trangdai as a dedicated, true-hearted researcher, and based on my deep background in the subject area of her work, I recommend her most highly.  I would count her in the top 1% of all the students I have ever had for dedication, scholarship, creativity, and heart.


Roberto Alvarez, Ph.D., Member, Board of Directors of the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the Executive Committees of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies

I can honestly say that I have never in my more than 25 years of teaching met or worked with a person who has been so completely devoted to her research and community like Trangdai, or who has accomplished so much as a student and independent researcher like her.        

It is a rare thing to meet a truly natural researcher, but Trangdai has illustrated a complex understanding and sensitive approach to the ethnographic and the social sciences. She has a sound understanding of the broad connotations of social science, the need for dissemination of her work and its policy implications.  Her work is thorough, reaches into the sociology of immigration and the humanistic arts.  She has had expansive experience interviewing and reporting, as well as a conducting field research through her understanding of cultural anthropology. 

I should mention that in each of these intellectual settings Trangdai has been active in community outreach, and public and intellectual forums in and outside of the university.  In this trajectory the amount and quality of her research and community service is truly outstanding, novel and of crucial importance.  Trangdai's work and interests are not limited to the Vietnamese community.  Her focus on the Vietnamese is multi-dimensional and complex in that she utilizes a truly comparative perspective and analysis in seeking understanding of the diasporic community and its members. She is interested in the larger schematic of immigrant settlement and comparative social-cultural adjustment.  Her impressive list of publications, multiple and differing presentations each year, and her broad humanistic involvement are evidence of her prolific capabilities.  Her work I should note is bilingual and she has produced a number of inaugural and watershed articles concerning the Vietnamese Diaspora.

As is evident in her writing, Trangdai has a novel and precise writing style, and a deep sensitivity for her subjects as well as for the broader public impacts of her work.  She has produced ethnographic films, worked with both radio and other media in dissemination of her research and community participation.  A most admirable aspect of her work is the effort of involving the community in public affairs.

Trangdai is also sensitive to her research position as a Vietnamese woman who identifies with the Orange County community. I have great respect for the work Trangdai has accomplished.  She is a devoted intellect and researcher who will contribute to a variety of research venues, teaching and public understanding.