SF State's Voice winner balances love for music, education

Anna Nguyen

SF State student Anna Nguyen, right, was named the winner of the first SF State's Voice competition on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. Photo by Sam Battles / Xpress.

When the winner of SF State’s Voice competition was announced in Jack Adams Hall Oct. 25, Anna Nguyen seemed to freeze, standing with her mouth agape in complete surprise at hearing her name, while the enthusiastic crowd erupted with cheers and shouts.

It was the first singing competition Nguyen had ever participated in and after more than 1,000 total votes cast, she received the most among the 16 contestants. Nguyen was surprised with the results of SF State’s Voice as she had never entered a singing competition before.

“The announcement kinda went through one ear and out the other,” she said. “I couldn’t process the whole thing. I was not expecting to win.”

While many talented singers pack up their belongings and head for Los Angeles with dreams of stardom, Nguyen’s future plans are much more pragmatic. She is working on a biology degree with an emphasis in physiology, and hopes to go to medical school after graduation and become a pediatrician.

“I’ve always liked working with kids ever since I was young,” the 20-year-old said. “I didn’t like growing up without health care and I don’t want that for others. I didn’t have that peace of mind and I want to provide that for them.”

The constant anxieties she and her family faced without health care made a strong impact on her desire to help others.

Although Nguyen would love to sing professionally someday, she believes that goal is not as practical as her goal to become a doctor. She also believes that these seemingly disparate paths share a certain similarity: the ability to improve others’ lives.

“Although doctors can heal medically, I feel that I can also heal people’s souls with music,” Nguyen said. “Becoming a doctor is just something that seems more logical and practical right now. I think I can have both of them (music and an education) in my life.”

Though new to competitive singing, the vocalist has been singing for most of her life.

Nguyen grew up in Oakland and as a child sang Vietnamese karaoke for her parents, immigrants from Vietnam.

After joining the choir in high school, Nguyen fell in love with performing. Now she takes advantage of every opportunity to sing for an audience.

“I love performing,” she said. “It’s what I do.”

Kris Domingo, Nguyen’s team leader in the competition, recognized her affinity for performing and wanted her on his team.

“It was amazing working with her, I’m so proud of her,” Domingo said. “She worked so hard. I’m not surprised that she won at all.”

Vic Cataag has been Nguyen’s boyfriend for more than five years. He believes that she will be successful no matter what path she chooses for her future career.

“She works hard and she has a passion for both (her education and music),” 22-year-old Cataag said. “Every time she gets a chance to practice singing she has to double or triple her effort to get her practice in because of school. I think she’s going to be a successful person because she’s a hard working person.”

What is perhaps most important to Nguyen is that she remain humble. The small exposure she has already received from winning SF State’s Voice has provided her a glimpse of life in the limelight and the feeling of being recognized by people she doesn’t know.

“Ever since I’ve won the Voice, I’ve kinda proven to myself that I can remain humble,” she said. “It’s weird when people are looking at me and I don’t know if it’s because I won the competition or something else. I don’t want to get caught up in fame and all that; I never want to forget where I came from.”

While balancing school and her passion for music, Nguyen does not worry about what the future has in store for her.

“I’d rather live a quiet, normal life and have music on the side,” she said. “But who knows, anything can happen; it’s wherever God takes me.”

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