Viet UCLA alum honored by Obama at White House for work with homeless

Tak and Barack

Thach Tak Nguyen shakes hands with President Obama at the Champions of Change ceremony at the White House.

A Vietnamese-American, himself coming from a broken, low-income family, was honored by President Barack Obama for his innovative idea to help feed the homeless, a project that he started while still a student at UCLA.

Thach “Tak” Nguyen, 23, co-founder and CFO of Swipes for the Homeless, a non-profit organization that started as a student organization at UCLA, was honored as a “Champion of Change in a Mar. 15 ceremony at the White House that was captured on video. Tak is in the lower right corner of the screen.

The term “swipe” in the organization’s name refers to extra meals on meal plans (cards) that students may have skipped – i.e. not swipped – during the week, and accumulated over the quarter. In 2011, Tak and his friend Bryan Pezeshki had this idea to take all these unused swipes and trade in for meals for the homeless.

As noted in the Tak’s blog on the White House web site here, to date the organization has “collected over 20,000 meals…, with a record of 7,421 meals this past university quarter.”

In 2011, the duo took this program national and now has chapters at USC, UC Berkeley, Texas State University San Marcos, and even at the University of Paris in France.

Tak is still the organization’s CFO; he deals with the internal operations of the organization, with a specific focus on talent management and grooming future leaders. His professional experience ranges from business development to project management in Fortune 50 companies.

What’s even more amazing is, as Nguoi Viet Daily News found out, Tak himself came from a broken working class family. Both his parents are barbers and they divorced when he was 15. He started working through high school, getting money for college.

Even after he got admitted to UCLA, in his first year he worked the night shift, from 9pm to 3am, getting paid $9 an hour. In his second year, he asked his parents for $75 each per month; they give him $100 each. After four months, he found a job, and voluntarily paid back his parents.

Tak credited his work to the mere fact that he was admitted to UCLA. He told Nguoi Viet that in his admission essay he asked the school to overlook one bad year in his transcript when his parents divorced.

When he got in, Tak determined to prove to UCLA Admissions they were right in giving him the opportunity.

Tak with his parents at graduation.

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17 Responses to Viet UCLA alum honored by Obama at White House for work with homeless

  1. ThaiVanTran&PalinTakeBackWhiteHouse says:

    Why are people with big hearts look so cute while those “Viet” Republicans in Tiny Saigon all have pig faces?

  2. Bo May says:

    LOL at your post, but you got it half right ’cause Jung Kim will beg the difference to that.
    All of the pig faces viet repubs are very purty and they will ‘make viet proud’, if you don’t believe me, ask jung kim.

  3. Bruce Thibault says:

    Wow. Interesting because I never thought about all the meals I missed in college because I was too hung over, or spent Sat & Sun away from campus. Great program !

  4. Unkel K says:

    These college kids knows nada about swiping…I’s remembers when we’s used to swipe meals from other kids to support ourselves. But these kids today have too much to even think about eating their prepaid meals. Gawd d*mn good for nothing leeching numb skulls. See, Tka’s got it right in using all the meal credits on his card, no wonder UCLA (University of Caucasions Lost among Asians) accepted him in their school. Did TKA play some B-ball with Pres O? BTW, that family has a bad case of slanted eyes…even by Viet standards.

  5. Jung Kim says:

    Tak is another proud Viet …. with common sense!

    Go Tak!

  6. Jung Kim says:

    Hey TakingBackDogHouse, ask joe mama why her thighs seem they belongs to little piglets.

    Bo May de chi chi? This idiot is missing thighs all together.

  7. Jung Kim says:

    TakeBackDogHouse, don’t you think Viet Republicans are cute?

    How about white Republicans?

  8. Jung Kim says:

    It is always good to watch our youths becoming next leaders….

  9. pho 75 says:

    Finally we have someone doing good for general society and Viet pride.
    I am tire hearing about all of the Viet corrupted politicians.

  10. Jung Kim says:

    Our Viet youths are remarkable… in all fields.

    Go Viets!

  11. Bo May says:

    …and what the viet repubs have done? Beside drunk driving, corruption, in fighting, red baiting, cheat and lie, loud protest at nothing significant……Nothing remarkable about that. Ouch!

  12. Bo May says:

    …why viet voters decided to vote for loretta instead of van tran?

  13. Jung Kim says:

    Viet voters voted for our Assemblyman Van Tran and mexican voters voted for their mexican candidate Loretta Sanchez….

  14. Jung Kim says:

    Go Vo My Linh!

    Keep helping small, less fortunate members of our society.

  15. Jo says:

    Good to see so many Viets doing good deeds. There’s another Vietnamese Champion of change:

  16. Jung Kim says:

    Good job Lan Diep!

    Go Viets!

  17. small business says:

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