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Catching up with N.C. State Paper Science and Engineering senior and May 2023 graduate Jenny Nguyen

Jenny Nguyen

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In 1954, the paper industry established a pulp and paper program at N.C. State in part to help man a pulp and paper industry boom in the southern United States. Students in this program were able to receive a B.S. degree in Pulp and Paper Technology (PPT). The students could also stay for one additional semester and receive a second B.S. in Chemical Engineering, a program feature then not available at any of the other schools offering paper science degrees. With strong regional support, an outstanding scholarship endowment, and this unique dual degree program, the NC State program began to establish itself as a dominant program in the United States. In 2004, this program became jointly administered by the College of Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, and its name was changed to Paper Science and Engineering. In 2005, the program became ABET accredited.

Jenny Nguyen is a student in the program, and she shares some of her experiences at N.C. State.

What attracted you to the Paper Science and Engineering program?

Like some of my peers, coming into college I had no idea what Paper Science was but I soon learned a lot about the many wonders of the paper industry and was intrigued. I originally applied to NC State for just Chemical Engineering and received letters about the Paper Science program and dual degrees soon after. My parents and I attended the Engineering Open house my senior year of high school and were able to speak with current students in the program about the many internship opportunities and scholarships available. After taking my first PSE 201 class, I was interested in this industry that is such a big part of our everyday lives. Needless to say, it was the best decision in my college career.

Were you looking into pulp and paper when you were in high school?

No, I did not know about the pulp and paper industry when I was in high school.

Tell us about the internships and/or co-ops you have had.

During the Spring 2020 semester, I had the opportunity to work with WestRock at their West Point, VA Mill as a Process Engineering Co-Op in the Pulp Mill Department. I also worked with Kimberly-Clark at the Beech Island, SC Mill also as a Process Engineering Co-Op in the CTEC Department during the Summer and Fall of 2021. Over the summer of 2022 I did undergraduate research under Dr. Richard Venditti studying the "Impact of Multiple Recycle Loops on the Yield and Properties of Wood Fibers and of Non-wood Fibers for Packaging".

What does this program mean to you?

This program has provided me with a community and AMAZING support group that makes going to a big university feel less daunting. The relationships that I've gained in this program whether it be friendship, mentors, or industry relations, have been so important to me and I learn so much from everyone. I am so grateful to be able to gain not only hands on industry experience, but also a lot of professional development that can help me in my future career. I cannot put all of my appreciation for this program into words, but I hope to share my love for paper to others as much as I can.

Where do you see yourself in five and 10 years, and what are your career aspirations?

In 5 to 10 years, I see myself as having many experiences in the industry whether it be solely at a mill or other areas. My career aspirations are to help as many people as I can while also learning as much as I can. In the future, I would like to be a manager (either on the technical side or over operations) to share my knowledge and experiences of this industry.

What would you recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper?

The paper industry is one that is so connected to everyone's lives but not commonly known. I love to tell people about the many parts of the industry as it is more than just about printing and writing grades.

Something I would recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper is to always be open to learning no matter how long you've been working, there is always something to learn in these processes. Another thing would be to be open minded and to really delve into the weird, wonderful world of pulp and paper.

Please let us know of anything else of interest about your experiences in the program.

I have been able to gain a lot of fun experiences in the program from my first time being in a canoe for our freshman retreat to the many cookouts we've had in the TAPPI student chapter as well. I love being able to share my experiences with prospective students through volunteering activities and outreach events just like how I was introduced into this program.

Please tell us what year you are in the program, your hometown, and anything interesting you might do in your free time.

I am originally from Charlotte, NC and am currently a 5th year senior in the dual Paper Science & Engineering and Chemical Engineering Program graduating this May of 2023. In my free time I love to spend time outside whether it be hiking or roller skating. I also really enjoy photography and have been able to take graduation pictures for my peers, some of which are featured in our very own Pulp & Paper Annual Report!


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