Quick overview:
  • Hometown(s) & country(ies): Da Lat, VietNam
  • High School/Previous Institution: Thang Long High School for the gifted / Columbia International College
  • Major: Engineering  Minor: General Business
  • Graduation: May 2022

To contact Duyen (Jessica) send an e-mail to:

Why did you choose JMU?

I am a very contradictory person.  I like the bustle of big cities. However, when it comes to choosing a place to live and study, I prefer peaceful, fresh and a little bit vintage place which makes me feel comfortable and help motivate my studying. This was one of the reasons I choose James Madison University, where is located in Virginia. A suitable living environment for me : peaceful enough but not too boring since it is not too far from Washington DC and New York, where I could spend my short break. I hoped that JMU can give me the real experience of "American College town". Besides, when searching for a university that fits my major, I learn that JMU is rank #1 most recommended school in the US and #5 best university food. This sparked my interest in JMU because I believe this school can provide me a great college environment.

What do you like best about JMU?

Since day 1, I fell in love with JMU. It was love at first sight because of the campus beauty. That is the beauty of historic architecture contrasted by modern architecture. The campus has its unique beauty every season. During the Spring semester you can see cherry trees blooming with amazing colors. Over the summer, the weather is warm but stunning with many different colors and of course purple and gold. Fall comes to the campus with yellow leaves fluttering from the autumn tree and winter occasionally turns JMU into a beautiful wonderland campus with snow flowers. I am also impressed by the importance of school spirit. Ever since I stepped foot on campus I learned the JMU chants and special moves. This energy and spirit make the school environment so friendly.

What surprised you the most during your first semester?

JMU's gym (UREC - University Recreation Centre) is the most surprising thing to me in this campus. I was amazed by how big the gym is and how fantastic the fitness opportunity we can get. Believe me, you will find everything you need for your fitness. However, the gym itself is not enough to draw my attention but the great exercise program and adventure trips that UREC provides FREE for all university students. There are always plenty of classes for different fitness levels in UREC. I can continue my yoga hobbies and learn Kickboxing by attending a relevant program in UREC. Also, the Adventure trips organized by UREC are great opportunities that students shouldn't miss to gain some new besties who share the same hobbies and discover new experiences for their college life. Just like me, the chance to go hiking under the moonlight, kayaking, and paddleboard in the Shenandoah river is not only a great way for me to release stress but also become an unforgettable memory.

What is your favorite class?

My favorite class by now is Engineering Opportunity 101, one of my first major class. I remember how nervous I was when I enter the class of over 200 students with the feeling: "This gonna be hard. I gonna be overwhelmed". Yes, the class was really tough, but I end up enjoy studying it because our professor assigns us to work by the team and guide us to work well together. We call our group a Framily (Family and friend). We don't just work as having to have a good grade for the project but learn and grow together. I ignored that I was the only girl in the group and put in all my effort to support the other members. The others never looked down at me or made any rude comments because of my gender or race. I did grow so much after this class that I haven't even expected to develop my model building, oral presentation, and teaming skill.

What do you like to do during your free time?

I might be too hard-working that I don't even have time to talk to people when I focus on studying but when I'm finishing my "study time", I won't study anymore =)  I love to throw my nerd version away during my free time and meet expand my social circle, learn new experiences and discover new things. I am involved in a few clubs at school (Social of women Engineer, American Welding Society, JMU archery, Vietnamese Student Association, and JMU Bridges International) where I find some true friends in my college life. I also try my best to spend a good amount of my time for fitness and release stress, therefore, I spend 40% of my time participating in yoga, kickboxing and HIIT class in UREC- the school gym. If I don't have any plan for the weekend, I love to fill it by an Adventure trips to do some outdoor activity or enjoy a local hike in Shenandoah valley.

Back to Top