Normandale Student Story - Soapy Nguon-Santana

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

Last spring Soapy Nguon-Santana received the President's 2017 Campus Compact Student Leadership Award for her involvement in the community and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.

This award was the culmination of a great deal of community work that Nguon-Santana has done while she has been at Normandale. Some of the organizations she has been involved with include the Restorative Justice Community Action and Arrive Ministries where she had a direct hand into receiving refugees in Minneapolis.

Nguon-Santana felt a deep connection in her efforts to helping refugees resettle in Minnesota, because her family came to the United States from a refugee camp after originally living in Cambodia.

"There are a lot of adjustments for new refugees coming into the United States, and it is a struggle to acclimate to life here with so many obstacles," said Nguon-Santana. "I know that I was difficult when my mom first came to the United States and did not speak English, so I wanted to do something in my life that would make it easier for new refugees coming in since I understand from first-hand experience." Nguon-Santana originally came to Normandale in 2009 as a Psychology major,

Nguon-Santana originally came to Normandale in 2009 as a Psychology major, however she had a child and wanted to make sure that her family was her main priority. She felt a draw back to Normandale in 2015 to get into social and criminal justice. At first, Nguon Santana was hesitant to come back as an adult student, however she quickly found success in the classroom and gained confidence to be a leader.

"I had a Normandale staff member tell me to keep people away who don't fill your bucket, and surround yourself with people who help fill your bucket and your self-esteem," said Nguon-Santana. "I have never heard negative things since I have been at Normandale. All of the students, the staff and the faculty are positive. That has helped me as a person, and I want to send my daughter to Normandale. The teachers and staff are great and it is a welcoming environment."

Nguon-Santana recently talked to a Normandale faculty member about getting into Public Affairs, and has been doing research about going to the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota. Whatever she does, she wants to use the lessons she has learned in her life to make a difference, represent Minnesota and be a positive force for change in the community.

"I love the community here at Normandale, and when I graduate I plan on giving the college best representation possible," said Nguon-Santana.