Ngan Tran ’17 honored for paper presented at conference

Ngan Tran ’17 of Vietnam presented a paper at the spring faculty-student conference of the Wisconsin Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies held at Alverno College in Milwaukee March 30-31.

She received an award for having one of the four best undergraduate papers presented at the conference, based on an evaluation by the Alverno conference committee.

Tran is majoring in global studies and economics and minoring in French and mathematics. Her presentation was based on her senior thesis in global studies, “Is Microfinance a Potential Solution to Extreme Poverty of Ethnic Minorities Inhabiting the Central Highlands of Vietnam?” she gave a historical background to the Degar people, an indigenous community in the central region of Vietnam, which explained why they have lived in poverty for many decades.

She then explored how microfinance might be a possible mechanism to helping the Degar people climb out of poverty even though there are some barriers to the use of this practice in the regulatory framework of Vietnam. The topic was of particular interest to Ngan as she is an international student from the central region of Vietnam. Ngan worked closely with Associate Professor Michael Mahoney, her global studies adviser, on the thesis and the presentation. She also learned about microfinance from Professor Soren Hauge, her economics adviser, who helped her arrange a summer internship with a nonprofit microfinance organization in Madison.

Associate Professor Paul Jeffries, Ripon College’s representative to the Executive Board of the WIPCS, and his wife, Ruth, have been Tran’s host family for her four years at Ripon.

“Ngan did an amazing job, especially since it was her first academic conference,” Jeffries said. “Several faculty came up to me after her talk to share how impressive they found her presentation — both in terms of content and delivery. It was a testament to her excellent preparation and the skills and experiences she received while at Ripon College.”


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