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Alumna Strives to Keep Her Longtime Home in the Forefront

December 11, 2023

Before attending the Maxwell School to pursue an MPA, Linh Nguyen supported Ukraine’s work to rebuild Mariupol following Russia’s 2014 attacks.

Vietnamese-Ukrainian Linh Nguyen came to the Maxwell School to earn a master of public administration (M.P.A.) after working for six years in public affairs and communications for the Ukrainian government and nonprofit organizations.

Linh Nguyen
Linh Nguyen

Her work included supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development in its efforts to rebuild the city of Mariupol following the 2014 attacks by Russian-backed separatist troops. Mariupol was again a key target for Russian forces in the 2022 full-scale invasion. Early on, some 100,000 citizens were trapped there with diminishing supplies of food, water and medicine. Today, Mariupol is being rebuilt by Russian occupiers, complete with Russian language road signs and luxury flats catering to Russian investors.

“I cannot live a minute without feeling ache for my fellow countrymen and women,” said Nguyen, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. “It pains me to see Russia’s brutality against my nation: orphaned children, murdered civilians, cities wiped out. Perhaps, the scariest realization is that as a society, we will need to live with the everlasting scars of this war.”

Nguyen has lost many friends to the violence in Ukraine, both in 2014 and following the invasion in 2022. “One of my very close friends who used to be my deputy for two years got shot down when he was delivering medical supplies to the city of Bucha,” she said. “It doesn’t make it any easier when you don’t have family there—because I have 44 million sisters and brothers who are hostages of this horrendous war.”

What provides a measure of empowerment: After earning an M.P.A. at Maxwell in 2021, she joined Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) as an operations research analyst. She has supported the IVMF’s efforts in the US-Ukraine Veterans Bridge and she has joined efforts to keep the war in the forefront and raise funds for medical supplies to support Ukraine. She has also returned to the Maxwell School on the invitation of her former professors to share her perspective about the war.

“It is estimated that Ukraine will have at least 4.5 million veterans and military-connected families to care for post service,” she said. “We must defend our country’s borders, but also prepare to protect a growing population of returning veterans from battles yet to come. This is why my work carries extraordinary importance for me: I am fortunate, I can learn U.S. best practices on veterans’ care at my job.”

By Jessica Youngman with reporting by Jen Plummer

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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