My Nguyen: An Award-Winning Thesis with Personal Connections

by Sarah Holland

My Nguyen: An Award-Winning Thesis with Personal Connections

My Nguyen
MA in Applied Developmental Psychology

When applying to graduate programs, My Nguyen said it was the people at Mason that made the decision for her.

“Everyone in the Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) program was very nice and supportive and not overly competitive, which is something you might see in other institutions,” she said. “The students’ experiences as well as personalities is part of the reason I choose to be here.”

Dr. Adam Winsler’s work on bilingualism and early schooling for English language learners also drew her to Mason. Winsler served as her thesis advisor, and My was a member of his Winslab research group throughout her studies. She received the ADP Outstanding Thesis Award for 2020 for her thesis “Early Bilingualism and Foreign Language Learning in Secondary School,” a topic with which she shares a personal connection.

“I am an international student from Vietnam and have been studying in the U.S. for about six years. Thus, as someone who is bilingual, I am naturally drawn to this topic,” she said. Her thesis argues that educators should encourage foreign language learning for underrepresented students, due to bilingualism’s association with cultural and social advantages, and its long-term benefits in later language learning and overall cognitive abilities.

“Ultimately, I want to explore the neural mechanism underlying bilingualism.”

My’s academic journey will continue in Texas, where she will begin her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Houston in the fall.