A Message from Falecia Williams, President, West and Downtown Campuses
A man with both a Vietnamese and a Russian name who has a French accent and teaches math at an American college always has students asking, “Where is he from?”
Born in Vietnam, Boris Nguyen, professor, mathematics, was given Vietnamese names according to the law, even though his French mother did not speak Vietnamese. Boris and his parents left Saigon when he was 1 year old and resettled in Clermont-Ferrand, France. After moving to the United States at the age of 20, Boris graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering.
Thanks to advice from his UCF Calculus Professor, Dr. Sherwood, he started teaching as a graduate teaching assistant while working on his master’s in mathematics. He also completed the course work for a doctorate in mathematics, as well as graduate-level courses in both the Education and Engineering department.
In 1997, Boris obtained a four-month position on East Campus thanks to Dean Lee Sathree. A year later, in 1998, West Campus became his home when he started his tenure-track process at Valencia. Boris is probably one of the few who thinks of himself as both a West Campus and East Campus faculty member. He was lucky to encounter people who became mentors and great friends: Debbie Garrison (East Campus), Judith Jones (East Campus), Elizabeth Morrison (West Campus), Jeannette Tyson (West Campus) and Lynn Hearn (West Campus).
Boris is most proud of his interactions with students outside of the math classroom. Besides supervising Supplemental Learning Leaders on West Campus since 2008, he also has supervised students on the Brain Bowl teams (along with Chris Borglum, professor, English, and Damion Hammock, professor, mathematics) from 2001 to 2015. Coaching Brain Bowl brought him to meet with groups of 10-20 students twice a week for three to four hours to practice and visit varied topics from literature, geography and history to chemistry and astronomy. The teams traveled several times a semester to take part in local, regional and national tournaments. Very quickly, some of his calculus students became full-fledged participants who many times spent more time preparing for quiz bowl tournaments than their calculus tests.
Community building has always been part of his modus operandi, and Boris thoroughly enjoys getting to know students on a personal level outside the class and engaging them in conversations about their interests beyond math and science.
Boris advises students to realize that the social and networking experiences that they have while in college are invaluable. Getting to know and having positive interactions with faculty and staff can lead to jobs, references, internships and important social engagements.