• This is the drawing sophomore biology major Ty Nguyen submitted for the "Frame Your Future" contest. He was sele...
    This is the drawing sophomore biology major Ty Nguyen submitted for the "Frame Your Future" contest. He was selected as one of 24 finalists from more 9,500 entries submitted.

Sophomore biology major Ty Nguyen has been selected as a the grand prize winner in a scholarship contest for college students sponsored by Church Hill Classics, which makes frames for college diplomas.

To enter the contest, which is called “Frame Your Future,” students had to submit a piece of artwork or creative writing that depicts how they “frame their future.” Nguyen submitted a mixed media, graphite and photography piece depicting an open-heart surgery. More than 9,500 entries were submitted, and Nguyen was selected as one of 24 finalists. The grand prize winner was chosen by popular vote and announced May 19 on the Church Hill Classics website.

For winning the contest, both Nguyen and Southwestern will both receive $1,000. 

“I didn’t expect to be one of the finalists,” says Nguyen, who happened upon the scholarship opportunity while online. “I saw that there was a drawing scholarship, and I figured I would apply for it.”

A self-taught artist, Nguyen says, “I just sort of picked it up because it was something to do, but now I see it as a way to express myself.”

As a first-generation American, Nguyen learned English by watching American television as a small child and picked up drawing as a means of entertainment while home alone. “I got really meticulous with my hands, and that is why I thought being a surgeon would be a good idea. I tend to look at details very carefully,” he says.

Nguyen looks to his parents for much of his support and through family connections had the opportunity to shadow a surgeon in the Dallas area several times last summer. “I got to see different surgeries, one of which was a heart surgery, which was really interesting,” Nguyen says. “After that, I was sold. I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”

As Nguyen explains his drawing submission, he says, “I was so intrigued by the entire operation that I constructed every detail with graphite, while the photo of an open heart became the ‘heart’ of my drawing.”

Nguyen attended St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas, where he took his first art class in the 11th grade. It was then when he realized art to be his passion, not his future profession. “You cannot be forced to draw. You have to feel inspired,” he says. In his personal statement submitted with his art, Nguyen wrote, “Being a doctor has been my dream since kindergarten. Drawing has also been a passion of mine since I was old enough to pick up a crayon.”

While his focus on biology prevents him from studying art further at the collegiate level, Nguyen maintains that as a doctor drawing will remain an important part of his life. “It will always be a part of my free time. Being a doctor will be tedious and time consuming, and in order to get away from all the complications of being a doctor I can use art as a stress release,” he says.

In his artwork for the “Frame My Future” contest, Nguyen included what he thinks will be the most rewarding aspect of being a doctor.  “If I had to choose the best thing about being a doctor, it would probably be the feeling of having a person’s life in your hands,” he says.

Nguyen says being selected as a finalist for the scholarship contest from such a wide pool was moving. “I did not realize how many people were applying for the scholarship, so I did not think I had a chance at winning,” he says.

Nguyen understands his artistic ability as a natural element of his personality, saying, “I tend to be an artsy guy, so anything I see, I will draw it or sculpt it.” Nguyen hopes for the grand prize, and through hard work and dedication to his academics as well as his passions, sees this scholarship submission as a way to illustrate how important they both are to his future.

−Rosalie Bonner